Tannis Stang began volunteering in 2008 when she transitioned from being a wheelchair racing athlete to a coach, helping the next generation of athlete.
Fourteen years later, she’s still a coach with the Cyclones Athletics program and is working to bring more opportunities to athletes as a board member with the Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association.
Read below as she answers six questions about her volunteering journey.
- Who or what inspired you start volunteering in sport and why?
I first started volunteering in sport after I had been an athlete. I had an amazing coach, Rick Reelie, as an athlete and after I was done training and competing, I wanted to still be involved in sport and in our club. Rick began mentoring me and I started coaching our grassroots athletes.
- Why do you believe volunteering is important?
Volunteering is what makes sport so great! It is all the incredible volunteers that provide our young athletes the opportunities to become involved and develop the skills to keep them active for life.
- How important are volunteers to the sport community?
Many amateur sporting opportunities wouldn’t be available if it wasn’t for volunteer coaches, refs, officials, managers and all the other wonderful volunteers. Volunteers provide countless opportunities for athletes to take part in practices, training, competitions, games, tournaments and more. Most of these opportunities would not exist without volunteers.
- What is it that drives you to keep volunteering?
The athletes are what drive me to keep volunteering. I love being able to get new athletes out to try wheelchair racing, especially athletes who didn’t know they could have a future in sport. The athletes who are pursuing their love of sport, training and competing and striving for their next personal best, also drives me to keep volunteering. I am driven by providing opportunities to these athletes, opportunities that I had and will never forget.
Without the incredible volunteers who gave their time and energy during my time as an athlete, I would not have had the training, competition and travel opportunities that I did. I strive to be a coach who provides opportunities for athletes, encourages their love of sports and supports them, whether they are involved at a recreational or competitive level.
- What’s the most rewarding part of volunteering for you?
The most rewarding part of volunteering is seeing athletes grow, develop and love sport.
When an athlete figures out a new technique, hits a new top speed, races a personal best and reaches goals, it is extremely rewarding. Being a part of the athlete’s process as they develop as athletes or as they participate and race for fun, is why I volunteer.
Their excitement, smiles, successes and achievements as they do something they love is very rewarding and I hope that the athletes I coach develop a lifelong love of sport and being active.
- What would you say to get others involved in volunteering?
Please consider it! You will find an amazing sports family, you will have the opportunity to work with many amazing athletes (and their families) and you will learn and benefit so much from them.