Outside of a pair of male hockey contests in the evening, Wednesday was a quiet day at the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Clarenville.
Members of the Central girls’ volleyball team from Exploits Valley High in Grand Falls-Windsor register at the athletes village after arriving in Clarenville for the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games on Wednesday. The second half of the Games officially began Wednesday evening with two boys’ hockey games, with most sports, including volleyball, getting underway today. — Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram
But Games manager Brad Pitcher, the organizing committee and the legion of volunteers were a busy bunch as they welcomed second-half athletes and prepared for the remaining sports which were scheduled to be in full swing starting this morning.
“We’re pretty well working around the clock,” says Pitcher, a proud Clarenville native and three-time Games athlete and a convener for beach volleyball at the 2012 Summer Games in Harbour Grace and Carbonear.
“This is our second try, Saturday was a little more difficult. We feel like we’ve got everything in place and we’re going to promise them just as good an experience as the first half athletes had.”
Pitcher says one of the reasons things have gone so smoothly this week is because of the corporate sponsorship.
“As much as we can plan the Games and have great ideas, it all comes with a dollar value and if it wasn’t for them, none of those great ideas would become a reality.”
In addition to getting the 700-plus athletes, coaches and chaperones registered, accredited, and set up in the athletes village, the host committee had to prepare several venues to accommodate the new sports, including gymnastics.
A full truck with equipment borrowed from the Aesirs Gymnastics Club in Glovertown arrived at Clarenville high school Tuesday evening along with Gymnastics Newfoundland and Labrador executive director Natelle Tulk and technical director Carolyn Woolgar.
“It’s kind of a new sport to us, so they were great in giving guidance in terms of what we needed. And we had some great volunteers helping out,” Pitcher noted.
“Even though gymnasts are little, the equipment is big and heavy.”
Down the hall at Clarenville Middle School, the gymnasium was being used for registration throughout the day before being turned into an entertainment venue at night. By this morning, it will be ready for boys’ and girls’ volleyball, a sport in which the Host team, represented by the Clarenville high Cougars, is considered legitimate contenders for gold.
“The boys just won provincials, so they’re in mid-season form and we think the girls could play spoiler to a few teams,” says Pitcher, a former Memorial University Sea-Hawks varsity team member.
“I try not to be biased towards any sport, but if I’ve got any free time, you’ll probably see me at volleyball.”
Other second half sports include alpine skiing, badminton, table tennis, and figure skating which is taking place at Whitbourne Stadium, over 100-kilometres away. The next closest suitable ice surface is in Port Blandford, slightly closer, but Whitbourne was chosen for its proximity to St. John’s and the officials and judges coming from the capital region.
Action continues Friday. Medal games in most sports are set for Saturday with the closing ceremonies, which will be hosted by sports broadcasting personalities Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, set for Saturday night.
“The opening was a nice way to kick things off and see everyone enjoying it,” says Pitcher. “I think I’m going to have a sigh of relief when the closing happens and all the kids are having just as much fun.”