In the build up to this year’s AoC Sport National Championships, much of the focus has been on the athletes who will be competing in Tyne and Wear. But the event wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for a dedicated group of people making sure the weekend runs smoothly – our team of volunteers.
From ensuring athletes are at the right venues at the right times, to taking photographs to capture the event – and a host of other jobs in between – the volunteers are what make the National Championships such a fantastic occasion.
A host of students from colleges across the country applied to be part of this year’s Championships, while there will also be students from Northumbria University, Sunderland University and Newcastle University donning the green volunteer kit over the weekend.
And some of them may end up hooked for life – not just by the AoC Sport National Championships, but by volunteering in sport as a whole.
One person who will be able to tell them all about the benefits of volunteering is former Preston’s College student Rachel Langlands, who will be helping at her third National Championships on Friday.
“As part of my Foundation Degree at Preston's College, we had to organise and run the North West volleyball competition. They were really impressed with how it went and we got nominated to go to Bath for the National Championships,” she said.
“Then from there I got the bug and wanted to help more often and offer my skills and knowledge again.
“Volunteering brings out my confidence and knowing I am making a difference by helping others makes it all worthwhile.”
Throughout Rachel’s three years as a National Championships volunteer, she has experienced a variety of roles, helping with sports including netball and hockey, checking people in on reception and taking photos and videos, to name just a few.
And being able to turn her hand to such an array of tasks, along with the breadth of people she has met along the way, has kept her coming back year after year.
“I’ve loved meeting new friends, interacting with students and fellow colleagues,” she said.
But it’s not just the National Championships which have seen Rachel return for several successive years. In fact, her involvement with the AoC Sport event is small fry when compared to her work in other sporting areas.
“I have worked on an American Summer Camp for the Girl Scouts for 14 summers, starting from counsellor and working my way to Trip Leader, Adventure and Sports Director and eventually running the Day Camp,” she said.
“All these summers led to doing 18 months in the States working on camps and with the Girl Scouts full time, which was fantastic.
“I would recommend volunteering to anyone because it is an amazing experience and so worthwhile.”