Volunteers are at the heart and soul of Australian sport, and this National Volunteers Week Paddle Australia will be celebrating those who give so much to make our sport possible.
One of those such volunteers is Canoe Sprint Technical Official Tracey Tapscott.
Tracey first got involved with Canoe Sprint 13 years ago, when her son picked up a paddle at his school in Adelaide.
Fast forward 10 years, and Tracey has just wrapped up a week officiating at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup in Hungary.
“My involvement in the sport started in 2010, initially taking my sons to and from training and supporting them as a parent volunteer at local regattas,” Tracey said.
“I then received a tap on the shoulder from Jim Murphy at a state regatta and started assisting him as an aligner at the start line, as well as performing various other volunteer officials roles.
“My first officiating at a national event was the 2014 Canoe Sprint National Championships, where I was asked if I would learn the computer program that Paddle Australia uses for scheduling and running national competitions.
“My first event in this role was in December 2014 and I have been in the role for Paddle Australia ever since then,” she said.
After enjoying her time officiating so much, and making the most of learning from fellow Australian officials, Tracey decided it was time to upskill and take her volunteering to the next level.
“In 2022, myself and Mark Bulmer were nominated by Paddle Australia for the International Technical Official seminar, which was to be held in the lead up to the 2022 Canoe Sprint World Championships in Canada,” Tracey said.
“The seminar was separated into two components, theory and practical. The theory has to be successfully completed and involves learning the ICF Statutes and Canoe Sprint Rules, and completing two online assessments.
“The practical component was over the five days of the World Championships, where we had hands-on experience and tuition in various roles and in the final session we were even invited to observe the operation of the Competition Committee.
“The experience in Halifax exceeded expectations and has only strengthened my commitment to Canoe Sprint,” she said.
Looking back at her journey, Tracey said she could have never dreamed of the places she’d go or the people she’d meet through volunteering.
“Over the years I have made new friends and have been able to travel with the sport, and being involved in the running of a regatta enhances the experience of being at an event,” Tracey said.
“I have made many friends who were involved in Canoe Sprint events in the lead up to and during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
“Speaking with them about the whole experience underlines the importance of officials to the success of such a high level international competition.”
Tracey encourages anyone who might be sitting on the sidelines wondering how they can get involved to consider volunteering.
“For those wanting to get involved, my words of advice would be just do it! It’s very rewarding to be involved and provides great experiences and personal development opportunities,” she said.