Jim Prokop (right)

High-calibre volunteers keep Surrey 2012 BC Summer Games on track

From rounding up 16,000 apples to scheduling 1,500 bus trips, organizing young athletes for the July 19-22 event is a numbers game.

Ask any of the 15 volunteer directors of the Surrey 2012 BC Summer Games what the biggest challenges are in hosting the Games and he or she will tell you that it’s numbers – big numbers.

Take the transportation requirements for example.

Games Director of Transportation Jim Prokop says that 80 full-sized buses and some 30 courtesy cars and min-vans will be used July 18-22 to transport approximately 3,400 athletes, coaches and officials to 22 venues throughout the city and outlying communities.

The pick-up and drop-off points include 14 Surrey schools where athletes will sleep as well as airports and other points of arrival and departure for out-of-town participants.

“There will be approximately 1,500 bus trips scheduled over five days that will accommodate more than 60,000 participant passenger trips,” says Prokop, who honed his skills in transportation logistics during a 25-year career with TransLink (and predecessor BC Transit) and through his involvement in developing the transit plans for TransLink for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“Most of the bus services will be to move athletes and their coaches between accommodations at schools to the various sporting venues. Most of these are in Surrey, but some of the water sports will be held in surrounding areas such as Deas Island (rowing), Abbotsford (towed water sports), and Fort Langley and Pitt Meadows (canoe and kayak).”

It goes without saying that when it comes to ensuring that athletes and teams from the eight competing zones all make it to the right competition venue at the right time, there is zero margin for error. Thankfully for participants and Games organizers, Prokop has all the right stuff, especially given his additional 2010 Winter Games responsibility as a Director of the TransLink Host Command Centre.

He also has a superb supporting cast, including a dedicated team of six experienced chairpersons who have been at work for the better part of two years laying the groundwork for all that they and some 100 other transportation volunteers will do during the long days ahead.

“There is actually even more to it than what meets the eye,” says Prokop, explaining that in addition to competition activities, participants also need to be transported to food service venues, opening and closing ceremonies and to special events, including two dances that will be held exclusively for almost 2,400 athletes.

There is also the challenge of moving mountains of participant luggage and managing a lost and found service.

“These are areas where we will utilize the most volunteers,” he says.

Director of Food Services Linda Creighton has a lot on her plate too in preparing to feed participants. The food services director of the Langley 2010 BC Summer Games, Creighton says part of the trick to serving thousands of hot meals in a tight time frame is the utilization of massive “Jurassic ovens.”

To that end, she has arranged to take delivery of three commercial ovens on loan from manufacturer Rational Canada that will be set up in enormous army surplus tents outside Cloverdale Arena, which will serve as the Games dining quarters capable of serving 640 athletes every 20 minutes.

“The ovens are worth upwards of $60,000 each and they are absolutely critical to our needs,” says Creighton, who served a term on the Board of Directors for the BC Chefs’ Association as well as the BC Produce Marketing Association.

“The ovens can cook food at varying temperatures and in a fraction of the time that it takes a conventional kitchen oven.”

Director of Results and Registration Vince McKay is literally a numbers guy. He draws his expertise from the financial services industry in which he has worked for most of his career, including the last 15 as principal of Surrey based Essential Financial Planning Services.

But he also credits his formative experiences as a Canadian Armed Forces airborne infantryman for the rigour and discipline required to ensure the accuracy of the registration process for both participants and more than 3,000 volunteers, not to mention electronically recording reams of competition results.

Asked why he would take on such an overwhelming and exacting volunteer task, the father of three active daughters just shrugs his shoulders.

“Sport is an important part of leadership development and in raising children to be healthy and responsible adults,” says McKay. “The philosophy of our entire team of directors is that, every two years, a B.C. municipality has a responsibility to do its part to provide a memorable sport experience for these kids. In 2012 it’s Surrey’s turn, and so we’re just doing what we have to do, and we’re happy to do it.”

The Surrey 2012 BC Summer Games will be held July 19-22, beginning with the opening ceremony July 19 at 7 p.m. at Holland Park, Old Yale Road and King George Boulevard.


Surrey 2012 BC Summer Games by the numbers:

• Number of participating athletes: 2,361 (more than both the Commonwealth Games and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games)

• Anticipated number of participating coaches and officials: 800

• Total number of volunteers: 3,148

• Number of meals volunteers will prepare over five days: 32,000

• Box lunch requirements:

– 33,000 juice boxes

– 16,000 apples

– 16,000 slices of bread

– 8,000 cups of yogurt

– 9,500 bagels

– 7,000 granola bars

• Number of sports included in the BC Summer Games: 20

• Number of competition venues: 22

• Age of youngest participating athlete: 9 (canoe kayak)

• Age of oldest participating athlete: 19 (equestrian)

• Average age of participating athletes: 14

• Medals awarded: 2,099

• Number of medal presentation ceremonies: 284

• Number of foam mattresses required for participant accommodations: 3,500

• Number of Surrey schools that will be used for participant accommodations: 14

• Retired RCMP volunteers for 24-hour security: 150

• Number of trained first aid workers and sport medicine volunteers: 190

• Number of Friends of the Games (Surrey businesses providing financial and in-kind support): 49

• Value of Friends of the Games support: $500,000

• Expected economic impact in direct spending by games participants, spectators, volunteers and organizers: $2.6 million

• First BC Games: 1978 (Penticton)

• Previous BC Summer Games held in Surrey: 1989


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