St. Albert soccer scores big prize
State Farm Neighbourhood Soccer Volunteer of the Year contest winner
By: By Nicole Starker
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 20, 2012 06:00 am
The St. Albert Soccer Association has scored the grand prize in the 2012 State Farm Neighbourhood Soccer Volunteer of the Year contest.
SASA won a trip for four to see the Canadian men’s national team’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualifier against Cuba at BMO Field in Toronto last weekend, along with a $500 Umbro gift certificate.
SASA executive director Melody Martyn didn’t learn about the contest until a few days before the Aug. 30 entry deadline, but quickly put together an entry that the association could use to honour volunteers. Though the application was submitted in her name, Martyn says it was an application for the organization.
“You were allowed to apply if you were an administrator or if you were a volunteer or you could nominate someone else, so we applied kind of as an association,” Martyn said. “I guess they liked what we said, which is good.”
Martyn has been executive director for four years, but began volunteering with SASA 14 years ago, holding positions including board member, technical director, registrar and coach.
“I had mentioned there are so many in this association that give back selflessly season after season that if I won, rather than go with three of my own friends, I had planned to share the wealth with others from the association who had given back so much over the years,” Martyn says.
This is the second year for the State Farm contest and the first year SASA entered. Residents from New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta were eligible to apply and entries were evaluated on community impact, entry write-up, volunteer time contributed and tenure with the soccer club.
“The day that they announced (that we won) it happened to be a board of director annual social that the president puts on for us. So we took the tickets and put them in a hat for everybody that has done volunteer work as a director in the past or currently and that sort of thing,” Martyn says.
The four names drawn were league co-ordinator Diane Bejcar, Impact, fields and referees co-ordinator Margaret Sturgess, program and events co-ordinator Marj Ormiston and Martyn. The four women have more than four decades of SASA volunteer experience between them.
“We thought well, I guess it’s going to be a staff retreat, but each and every one of us has done years of volunteering before we came to work here so I don’t think it was out of line,” Martyn says.
None of the women had visited Toronto before and Martyn says they were thrilled for the opportunity to see the national team in action. She says BMO Field had a great atmosphere, and one of the end zones was especially enthusiastic.
“Everybody down there was singing and they had a drummer and they had huge massive Canadian flags that they were waving. Everyone had a Canadian scarf that they were throwing in the air and there was some really good cheering going on there,” Martyn says. “It was exciting to be a part of it.”
Canada beat Cuba 3-0, but was eliminated from World Cup qualifying in Honduras on Tuesday with an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Honduran hosts.
SASA will use the $500 Umbro gift certificate to show appreciation to the around 1,000 volunteers that keep St. Albert soccer players on the pitches.
“Every little bit helps to let it be known out there that coaches are volunteers and team managers are volunteers and they put in a lot of hours,” Martyn says.
SASA does spend money on volunteer recognition, but they are grateful that the State Farm contest prize can increase the offering this year.
“We’re going to put together some sort of a contest … to honour some more volunteers in the association,” Martyn says. “I’m guessing they’re going to be pretty excited because I’m guessing there are at least five people that are going to be able to pick out a Team Canada jersey in their size or a Team Canada hoodie if they prefer.”
Parents very often get involved in the sport as volunteers and Martyn says it’s an excellent way for moms and dads to spend time with their children, but a new group of volunteers is emerging within St. Albert’s soccer community.
“One of the things I’ve noticed in the last maybe three years is we’re having more and more young teenagers that are now graduating from school or in high school that are coming back and signing up to coach teams, which is shocking,” Martyn says. “I’ll bet you we have at least have a dozen teams with student coaches and that’s pretty huge considering how busy they are with their own school life and jobs and everything.”