It's volunteers week and today we are highlighting one of our female volunteers - Sue Alvey. Sue kindly wrote us a short blog post about where volunteering has taken her.
I have always had a love of athletics and during my school days I competed at school level in 100m, 200m and Long Jump. I became involved with club athletics with Cleddau Athletics Club (later amalgamated with Preseli Harriers to form Pembrokeshire Harriers) about 20 years ago, when one of my sons wanted to Sprint and Long Jump. The club had a sprints coach and throws coach but no jumps coach and to prevent the club from folding, I agreed to train as a jumps coach and as my son was now also triple jumping, I learnt how to coach that too. With a shortage of volunteers I soon also became a team manager and club treasurer. As Pembrokeshire Harriers was born I moved over to coach in Haverfordwest, still taking on the role of treasurer and also becoming the club welfare officer at the new track where I still coach long and triple jump and help an assistant coach with his development as a long jump coach. I progressed through the levels of coaching as they were at the time and am now a level 3 long and triple jump coach. I was also lucky enough to act as Welsh event coach for long jump for a year, a role which took me all over Wales holding development days for aspiring athletics. I currently act as the regional welfare officer for West Wales and have regularly attended the School Games as a member of the athletics welfare team.
I started officiating just after I started coaching with Cleddau Athletics Club as a volunteer, retrieving implements, raking sand pits and pulling tapes through until the club asked me to attend a course to qualify. I qualified as a field judge 18 years ago and gradually moved through the grades (now levels) to reach my current level 4. During this time my sons progressed from Junior Leagues to Senior Leagues (4 of my 5 sons competed regularly) and all got used to Mum being there all day with them, and later on Dad as well as I coerced him into taking a timekeeping course to make up the numbers so that the course would run. We then went on to officiate at regional and Welsh Championships and more.
I still enjoy both coaching and officiating, though now I think the officiating has taken priority. I have always enjoyed helping athletes achieve their goals and reach their potential and as an official you get to see that at close quarters. I love watching the athletes develop and improve over the years and of course it’s nice to be able to say that you had a part in their development when they reach the highest level. (I used to coach David Omeregie in the long jump when he started competing in combined events at an early age). It’s also nice as official to go to a higher level meeting and see athletes that you have come to know competing and be a friendly face that they recognise when they are on edge and nervous. Travelling around the country to different athletics meetings means widening your circle of acquaintances who all have the same interest, so that you get to look forward to meeting up with them again.
The highlight of my career has to be officiating at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the atmosphere, the nerves (yes officials get nervous too) and the friends I made will never be forgotten. I have also been fortunate enough to officiate at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the IPC European Championships in Swansea.
With what is left of my spare time I also sing in a choir, Cantabile, based in Haverfordwest which is a female voice choir and enjoy relaxing by knitting and cross stitching when I get the chance.
Like so many volunteers across our sport, Sue is an outstanding example of a individual that gives so much at all levels in a variety of different roles. Further details of how to get involved in volunteering, please visit the Welsh Athletics volunteering pages.