Sian Kunert was recently recognised as Volunteer of the Year in CSSC’s London region receiving her award from Paul Stubbs, London Chairman at the London conference. Read her story
I took up rowing in July 2013 becoming a CSSC member as an excuse to get fit and make the most of living by the Thames. Little did I realise it would become my life, not only for my own fitness and ambition but to support both the running of the boathouse and rowing club as well as to bring others into the sport.
I started as a CSSC volunteer when the Civil Service boathouse executive were looking for volunteers for the committee, so I thought why not give back to a club that has made me feel so welcome, and offered my services as treasurer in April 2014. The club completely relies on volunteer support with the committee, events and even coaching carried out by volunteers to keep things running. Even as a volunteer myself I am always inspired to see how much people devote of themselves into making the club a success.
As well as keeping the books and making sure the bills are paid on time, I was asked to consider joining the BBLRC committee as Vice-captain, a role I am now in my 3rd year of. As vice-captain I run training camps and beginner’s courses which encouraged me to train to be a qualified coach. I have run 3 get fit and learn to row courses over the past 18 months introducing over 50 new people into the sport. Coaching my first class solo this year was exhilarating and so exciting to see how that time spent can make a difference to an individual’s technique and ability. It really gave me the taste for helping teach others and prompted me to get more involved in coaching. I was given the opportunity of being mentored by one of the professional coaches at the club which is a wonderful chance for me to learn and develop.
This year I have gone on to pass my powerboat licence so I can go out with the novice squad and coach from the water which has enabled the squad to get more time rowing as they can go out on the evenings. I have also started on the path to become a qualified coach so I can take my volunteer coaching to the next level. I am so proud when one of my recruits makes an improvement, gets the chance to race or generally achieves their target. I really feel I have achieved something when I can add value to a training session and give positive feedback where I can to the squad to help meet their training goals.
Volunteer coaching 3 times a week on top of my own training as well as having a role on two committees can be challenging and sometimes things have to give, but it is definitely rewarding and I have to admit my own rowing is the best it's been. Volunteering has given me the ability and confidence to take more ownership of my training to fit everything in my demanding schedule! I wouldn't give it up for the world and am waiting for my girls to walk away with a win to really show how much everyone in the squad, the coaching team and all the other volunteers have achieved.