2023 nvw isabelle rioux

Being a volunteer: Isabelle Rioux

The team manager for the Bow River U11 Bruins talks about giving back to the game, maximizing the experience for the player and what goes into her role

Jason LaRose
April 17, 2023

Without the volunteer, there is no minor hockey in Canada – it’s really that simple. And that volunteer can come in a variety of roles.

A part of National Volunteer Week, chatted with Isabelle Rioux, team manager for the Bow River U11 Bruins in Calgary, to talk about her role, what it entails and why others should give their time to the game.

How did you get involved with Bow River Minor Hockey?

IR: I must admit, I was a skeptic when my husband signed our kids up to play hockey four years ago. We were a skiing family and, to me, this meant my sport was going to be put on the back burner. That's when our story with Bow River started. Without knowing it, we were joining a new community that was going to become much more than I anticipated.

How did you get involved as a team manager?

IR: Two years ago, both our sons’ teams needed a manager, so my husband and I decided to take on these positions. We had only done minor volunteering roles prior, but we sort of had the itch to be more involved. It was a steep learning curve, but we were able to bounce ideas off each other and progress together. We learned quickly that other parents have the same itch to help more, so we went with it. My first year being team manager was great! These parents became friends, and we were able to achieve all our goals off the ice so our kids and coaches had a great year on the ice. When the position was open again last season, I did not hesitate in raising my hand!

Why did you decide to volunteer your time in this role?

IR: After we saw our kids' love for playing hockey and having fun with their friends in the dressing room, we were all in. With the support of parent volunteers and Bow River Hockey, it didn’t take me long to say “I got this!” I also quickly realized that I am doing it for the kids. We want them to learn important lessons – perseverance, teamwork, leadership, etc. We also want them to have fun, and a team manager is essential in making this happen.

What exactly does a team manager do? What are the responsibilities that go into it?

IR: As a team manager, your main responsibilities are being organized, communicating efficiently, knowing all the rules, leading the team through important decisions on budgets and making sure things run smoothly throughout the season. You also need to make sure that every family volunteers and feels like they are part of the team. Working hand-in-hand with the head coach as you make decisions together to benefit the team is another vital responsibility.

What are the challenges?

IR: In general, as a team manager, you could have difficulties getting everyone to fulfill their volunteer hours. You will also need to deal with humans who have emotions. You need to listen to concerns or frustrations, and you might need to resolve conflicts between parents or kids.

What are the wins?

IR: There are multiple wins in being a team manager. First, working together to achieve goals that were set at the beginning of the season is very satisfying. Then, seeing the kids have fun, improve and be grateful for all that you do is also rewarding. But to me, the most important win is the lasting relationships and new friendships I have developed over the last two years. As I said previously, my family is now part of a community composed of people that support, encourage and help each other throughout the hockey season, and that is priceless.

What advice would you give to someone that may be interested in volunteering their time but isn’t sure what to expect?

IR: If you are interested in becoming a team manager, you need to know that it is a big time commitment, but one that is totally worth it. If you are still unsure about volunteering, talking to someone who has done it before can help in deciding if this is for you. Finding a mentor can also be useful. Yes, there are challenges but, in the end, the rewards mean so much more.

Why are volunteer roles like this one and so many others important in the local hockey association?

IR: It's very simple – without volunteers, minor hockey would be nonexistent. We need people to get involved, contribute to their community and show our kids that they matter and that we are there for them. As I said in my first answer, I was a skeptic when my kids started playing hockey four years ago. Slowly but surely, the sport has taken a special place in my heart, and being a team manager has hugely contributed to this. I now proudly call myself a Hockey Mom and I have the long black winter parka to prove it!

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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