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Volunteering is a Natural Progression

Seamus Reynolds is a volunteer with Bann Rowing Club

1. What does your volunteering involve?

Head Coach, coaching rowers and organising the rest of the coaching. Also if I’m not coaching, you’ll usually find me fixing boats or patching them!

2. When did you first begin volunteering?

I’m actually a coach for the Gaelic Football club in Coleraine as well, doing strength and conditioning over their winter training, but my number one sport has always been rowing. I started in 1978 here in Coleraine, but worked in construction for 28 years and travelled a lot so I ended up rowing for different clubs in London, Wales and Waterford. You pick up a few things rowing for different clubs.

3. What inspired you to get involved?  

Have always had a strong connection with rowing, and then I suppose when my kids began to row as well, I became even more involved with coaching.

4. What attracted you to the role?

Much the same, I’ve always enjoyed and been involved with the sport and I guess it’s a natural progression that whenever you stop rowing yourself, you start coaching.

5. What skills or qualities are required for your volunteering role?

People skills and man management. As a foreman for years I was used to working with people, and there’s a lot of organisational work involved here too. On Saturdays especially, from 8.30am to 2pm, there’s all sorts of schedules for kids to come down and train. So there’s a lot of working out and managing to be done, as well as setting the times and coaches, there’s different equipment too, working out who can use the boats at which times.

6. Why do you volunteer?

There’s always been a good family feel around the club, I always got on with my coaches, enjoyed what I had and wanted to put something back into the sport.

7. How often do you volunteer?

 Six days a week, most of the training during school year is at 5am.

8. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

 I really enjoy seeing how busy the club has become; we’re attracting kids from all across the board, boys and girls from different schools, ages and levels. We’ve kids coming from Rasharkin, all round the triangle, and further afield. I just enjoy seeing the kids get a lot out of it and getting the club buzzing. I was involved with this club in the 80s when there were only two or three members, who are committee members now. The past few years have been great though, as it’s grown so popular and of course we’ve got to see people who’ve been involved here moving on and rowing at a very high level. It’s been fantastic for a small club in a small town.

 

9. Why would you encourage others to get involved?

We’ve found it’s not just rowers, but also the parents of kids who row that can see the attraction. We’ve actually put parents on coaching courses and have some involved coaching the beginners. We often see a lot of parents either take an interest or wish that they’d done it themselves at a younger age.

 

10. What has been the highlight of your volunteering?

Getting to see kids reach the top level. Two years ago we won the Junior Irish Championship and then won three Championships last year. That was great and a long time coming, as I think the last championship won was the girl’s four in 1984. It spurs people on as well, reading and hearing about the success. The athletes now know that if you put the time in you can go as far as you want.

11. What advice would you give someone starting to volunteer?

Spread the load and give what you can. If you’ve got the time do it, don’t over commit and stretch yourself but certainly give what you can and make sure you’re enjoying it throughout. It’s not just about coaching, but the simple things like packing boats, and taking the boats and kids up and down to the regattas.

12. I know you were chosen as a torchbearer – congratulations!

Do you think the London 2012 Olympics will inspire people to get involved in sport and will it leave a legacy?

Definitely, you can tell there’s a buzz about the town, not even just for the rowing but also with the flame coming here. It was actually my daughter, Shannon, who I coached that nominated me. I think it’s going to inspire a lot of people, for example we’ve had 25 new girls approach us in the last the past month. It’d be nice to see something be put back into the sport though, and not just here, but all over, at the school and any other rowing club, because from what other small town in the UK are you going to see possibly three athletes go to the Olympics to compete in the same sport? It’s a phenomenal achievement.