If you’re looking for something to do in mid- to late-August, Sport Niagara has just the thing for you.
The not-for-profit organization established to carry on the sport legacy from the Niagara 2022 Canada Games is looking for volunteers to help with the 2024 World Rowing Championships. Scheduled to take place August 18 to 25 at the Henley Course in Niagara, the best in the world at the senior, Under 23 and Under 19 age groups will be competing for medals. .
With 2,500 athletes from as many as 80 nations participating over eight days, organizing committee member Vittoria Wikston says 750 volunteers are needed to ensure things run smoothly.
“We are hoping to get volunteers from across the region,” Wikston told The Local recently. “We have so many roles, more than 75 different ones. When people register, we ask them to check off their top five choices. We’ll talk to the volunteers one at a time to find out where they are best suited.”
Roles include flag bearers, boat holders, transportation providers, parking attendants, ushers and much more. Opportunities are available, as well, for the fan festival, which takes place at Rennie Park in Port Dalhousie from August 21 to 24 and features musical acts The Trews, Mimi O’Bonsawin, Scott Helman and others.
Wikston says each volunteer is asked to commit to about 16 hours in total split up over two days during the course of the competition.
2024 is the third time for St. Catharines to hold the World Rowing Championships, the most recent being the 1999 event.
Wikston points out that through more recent events such as the 2018 U18 Men's FIBA Americas Basketball Championship, the 2019 Canadian Wrestling Trials, and the 2022 Canada Summer Games, all hosted in the region, Sport Niagara has developed a method for hosting events of this magnitude.
Organizing committee chair Bill Schenck adds the 2015 Pan Am Games to that list of past events. Though those games were primarily hosted by Toronto, the rowing competition was held on the Henley course that year.
The athletes’ village will be at Brock University this summer, providing a number of volunteer opportunities at that location.
“That’s one of the things that makes this unique,” Schenck says. “The athletes and coaches will all be staying under one roof, eating together, and being transported to and from the same location. It will be an exciting time.”
Schenck, a past president and long-time director of the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation and the Henley Regatta commissioner for two decades, expects many who volunteered at past regattas as well as those other recent events will take part this August.
“We have a core group who volunteer at all the local regattas, including the high school championships,” Schenck says. “Many of them have expressed interest in being involved. But there are many roles and responsibilities that we don’t use for those regattas. And the magnitude of this event requires many more people to be involved.”
The volunteer registration portal opened just over a week ago and Wikston says the response has been great.
The portal will remain open through the end of February. The committee will then take the following three months to go over the applications, match volunteers with roles and contact successful applicants.
There will be some general volunteer training in July and role-specific training and orientation will be provided for all volunteers on August 8. Each participant will receive an exclusive event uniform kit that includes volunteer shirts.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years old, and high school students can use their hours toward their graduation requirements.
“It’s a great way to share new experiences and make new friends,” Wikson says. “And to be a part of a great rowing tradition in Niagara.”
To apply, visit stcrowing2024.com/en/about-us/volunteer.