With the National Women’s U18 Championships taking place in Huntsville this week, a considerably talented team has been assembled that will not have the chance to lift a trophy or see their name on a scoresheet. Yet without the contributions from this group, the tournament wouldn’t be able to take place, let alone crown a champion. In celebration of their efforts, Doppler will be shining a spotlight on some of the many volunteers involved with the games, offering an inside look on the incredible amount of time and energy required to coordinate an event of this calibre.
The Host for Team Alberta, Tracy Robinson, is the first such volunteer to be featured. A hockey mom who used to billet players when her son Zack was a member of the Jr. A Otters, Tracy has also been heavily involved in women’s hockey thanks to her daughter Natalie, who suits up as a senior for the University of Maine Black Bears. So when the call for volunteers first came out looking for team hosts, Tracy was immediately on board.
“I realize the commitment that these girls have put in and the sacrifices they have made,” she says honestly. “If there is anything I can do to make it a better or more memorable experience, that’s what I intend to do,”
As a host, Tracy’s duties are varied and constant. She was there at the airport when the team’s plane arrived and rode on the bus with them to Huntsville. She’s gone grocery shopping with the team to ensure they had the food they needed to compete.
“I guess I’ve always had that mothering instinct,” she says after Alberta’s first game on Wednesday. “Wanting to be involved, take care of them, help out as best I can to make it a great experience. I meet with them first thing in the morning, and am basically with them all day. If they have any questions or need anything, I’m there. I put out fires and do whatever I can to help the team.”
It’s a big commitment for someone who has a busy life of her own, but it’s a job Tracy is happy to do. She has made the necessary adjustments to her schedule to be available to the team at a moment’s notice for the duration of the week, in addition to providing round-the-clock access to her via her cell phone from when she describes as “when they get up to when they go to bed.”
Being the host, entrusted with the comfort and well-being of the entire group, is a lot like being on the team, and already Tracy is developing a bond with the players.
“I have the greatest team. The girls are fantastic and are so respectful and well behaved,” she says. “They are lovely girls and are a real joy to be around. So are the coaching staff and management on the team. They’re phenomenal and very appreciative of what the volunteers are doing. We bonded right away, since day one.”
Tracy was also appreciative of the tournament’s organization committee, whom she credited as doing a fantastic job in communicating and coordinating with the volunteers in the months leading up to the games.
“You see a lot of familiar faces,” says Tracy of the group. “There is a really good hockey community here. A lot of people put in a lot of time to make an event like this happen.”
Tracy’s team Alberta will play their final game at the Canada Summit Centre Saturday at 10:30 am against Saskatchewan.