Behind the scenes at the Olympics

- Patty Pitts

Ten-hour days, no pay and shifts that start as early as 4:30 a.m. That may not sound like a dream job to most people, but to Olympic volunteer and UVic Centre Auditorium manager Heather Regan it was “amazing.” Regan was among the army (20,000 plus) of volunteers from across Canada and around the world who powered the Olympic engine in Vancouver last month.

Her position as team leader for event services at Pacific Coliseum came after a phone interview and a personal interview. “I figure skated as a kid in the Lower Mainland, and I learned to ski at Whistler and Hemlock, but I told them I would go wherever they wanted,” says Regan, who returned briefly to her job at UVic in between multi-day engagements in Vancouver.

Each day she was in charge of a team of 8–12 volunteer hosts who did everything from preliminary ticket and accreditation checks outside the venue to ticket scanning, security checks and ushering.

The early mornings were a result of VANOC selling tickets to figure skating training sessions that started at 7 a.m. “There was either figure skating or short track speed skating competition every day I was working,” says Regan, whose celebrity encounters included skaters Patrick Chan and Scott Hamilton and American broadcaster Al Roker.

Her most memorable moment came at the expense of a Canadian short track speed skater “when three Koreans moved as one on a curve to overtake him. It was disappointing [to me] as a Canadian, but the movement of the Koreans was beautiful to watch.”

Clad in the distinctive baby blue coat of an Olympic volunteer, Regan was a magnet for fans who wanted to pose with her for a picture or who wanted to buy the coat outright. “Only the volunteers get them. I’ll be interested in seeing how much they’ll go for now on eBay.”

Regan’s coat won’t be among those offered for sale. “Are you kidding? I earned this. We ‘blue-coated-people’ gathered at bus stops and immediately started talking to each other. The volunteers were absolutely wonderful. I was so pleased to be able to be part of the Olympics.”

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Keywords: Olympics, volunteer

People: Heather Regan

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