In 1979, Kamloops was host to the inaugural B.C. Winter Games.
Now, 39 years later, the city is doing it all again, and some of those who helped make it happen the first time will be there to watch — and volunteer.
Back then, Jack Hollstedt was a director for the Games and his wife Lois sat on Kamloops city council.
Jack was charged with providing three things for athletes: accommodation, food and registration. He put athletes up in city schools and fed them in school cafeterias, on top of registering them for all of their events.
Today, these jobs fall to at least three different people.
In 1979, Kamloops was a city 2/3 its modern size and the Games were roughly the same size they are today, with more than 2,000 athletes and coaches participating.
But the city had no trouble filling volunteer positions.
Jack and Lois said they can’t recall Kamloops hosting an event the size of the Games prior, adding it was a challenge putting together something of this size.
“I think what happened back then is that service clubs got involved tremendously. I’m not sure that’s still the case, because there are fewer clubs to be involved,” Lois said, noting there is no longer a Kinsmen club in the city — a club that was a big volunteer contributor back then.
Volunteers have always been a big part of the Games’ success, not only year after year, but in securing them as a permanent fixture for sports in B.C.
Securing volunteers for the Games was vital in showing the provincial government an event of this size can work in a city like Kamloops.
“We were very much under the finger of the provincial government, so we definitely wanted to make sure we did everything just as proper as we could. It was a very large event for Kamloops in those days,” Jack said.
Lois, who will be volunteering at the Games this weekend, said the city is still very much a volunteer community, but things have changed since 1979.
Flashback Friday to the Kamloops 1979 BC Winter Games. 4 former Directors joined us today and brought along their original jackets! pic.twitter.com/WkMS6aDIhY
— BC Games (@BCGames1) February 24, 2018
She’s had to pick up a few extra shifts to cover for the positions still unfilled.
“I don’t think the problem is that people aren’t willing — it’s that people are busier,” Lois said. “There are more women in the workplace now than there were then — two people working full-time in families when it used to be just one.”
Making it all come together is something Hollstedt has experience with. Before he helped organize the 1979 Games, he was the president of the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament.
After the Games, he helped organize the 1996 Brier, the 1998 Ford World of Curling, the 2000 Scott Tournament of Hearts and the Strauss Canada Cup of Curling from 2003 to 2008.
Looking back at the Games, Jack, now 80, said what he still remembers most is all the fun he had making it happen.
“At the time, you don’t think that way, because you’re too busy,”
“So when I look back, we had such a great time. I hope that everyone that’s involved now can take part in that kind of fun.”
Athlete of old
Bob Walton from 2018 would have a few tidbits of skiing-safety advice for 1979 Bob Walton.
No. 1 on the list — wear a helmet.
Walton, 53, is coming full circle along with the 2018 B.C. Winter Games, first held in Kamloops in 1979 and returning to the Tournament Capital this year.