The sporting life
Sport has always been a way of life for Claude and Kathy Dallaire.
The 68-year-old St. Catharines residents have been involved on a variety of levels, from participating as varsity athletes at university, to coaching, to volunteering.
“We enjoy sports, we both have done a lot of sports and our kids have kept us involved with that,” said Claude, a retired teacher who spent the bulk of his career at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, where he coached gymnastics and soccer.
“She managed and I coached. We worked well as a team because Kathy was very good at that and I was good at what I did.”
Kathy, a retired nurse, feels the same way.
“We both enjoy athletics,” she said. “It’s something we’ve always done. We each have our own things that we do. It’s a common interest for us.”
The Dallaires are planning to team up again, this time as volunteers at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.
Claude will act as Venue Team Vice Lead, Meridian Centre, while Kathy is the Volunteer Services Lead, Meridian Centre.
“Where else can I get to boss her around?” Claude joked.
Kathy has heard that one before.
“It’s a running joke,” she said. “That’s what he tells the kids.”
Claude signed on first, then quickly persuaded his wife to come on board.
“Once he got involved I told him to go for it, have a good time,” Kathy said. “Then (they said) we thought you would be a good volunteer lead.”
Claude will be responsible for co-ordinating all lead functional areas for the Meridian Centre, where basketball will be played, while Kathy will see to it all the volunteers are organized.
The couple have previous experience with larger events after volunteering at the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Hamilton and the 2019 Canadian Dragon Boat and Canoe Championships in Welland.
Both enjoyed the experiences.
“It was the camaraderie,” Kathy said. “For the Pan-Ams, meeting all the different people from all the difference countries. I think part of it is sports really got me to where I am today. If you can be part of an organization motivating, helping those kids make goals, look at what their future holds.”
Claude loves the atmosphere of larger events where volunteers are the backbone of the infrastructure.
“Typically, people who are volunteering are like-minded people,” he said. “I think that’s important to recognize. The people you volunteer with are there for probably the same reasons you’re there and want the same outcomes you want.”
The Dallaires met when they were students at Ottawa University.
Claude, a native of Oshawa, was coaxed to come to Niagara in 1977 with an offer to coach gymnastics and teach math at Grimsby Secondary School where he stayed for eight years before moving to St. Catharines.
At Churchill, Dellaire continued to coach gymnastics and also got the school’s girls soccer program off the ground. He also coached soccer at the St. Catharines Community Soccer Club and Concord Soccer Club.
Kathy, meanwhile, helped at soccer and also volunteered as a swim instructor, lifeguard, and examiner at the YCMA.
“I didn’t know the area so I thought it would be a good way to get involved,” she said.
She has also volunteered at hospitals, the Performing Arts Centre, and recently signed up to volunteer at immunizations clinics.
“We’ve got a lot from the community and feel we can give back. Everybody works together and we get a great community,” she said.
Claude feels volunteering has kept them young.
“We’ve volunteered for a lot of things,” he said. “Our kids (two sons and a daughter) have kept us in touch. We wanted our kids involved and they did a lot of sports and we got involved in their sports. If we weren’t coaching, we were there.”
Both are eagerly awaiting the Games.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Claude said. “I think everyone wants to get it going.”
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Kathy added. “I think we’re going to do a really good job and be proud of our community. We have great people who are encouraging and enthusiastic.”
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