VERNON — No one is more passionate about sports than Kelly Mann is.
As far as he’s concerned, youth athletics and the community surrounding it is where it’s at.
The president and CEO of B.C. Games has guided the province’s Summer and Winter Games to great heights through a passion for
Mann was in Vernon last week, to help the host city launch the official countdown for the 2012 B.C. Winter Games, set for Feb. 23 to 26.
In tandem with the launch, Mann announced a four-year partnership between the Games and Black Press, parent company of the Comox Valley Record.
“While we sponsor literally thousands of events each year, the Games, both winter and summer are on a scale that is one of the largest opportunities to engage our readers across B.C.,” said Candy Hodson, senior vice-president of national sales and marketing for Black Press.
“In covering the BC Games it allows Black Press to also showcase our best — we bring together ‘local’ on a provincial scale,” she said.
Mann agreed the shared focus on athletic promotion in the community between the B.C. Games and Black Press is a perfect fit.
“Black Press papers and the Winter and Summer Games are in virtually every community in B.C. Black Press will provide extensive coverage and advertising to support the B.C. Games and share the story of how the Games impact athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and communities.”
The partnership will coincide with four Games, the 2012 Summer Games in Surrey and the 2014 Winter and Summer Games in Mission and Nanaimo, respectively.
From his downtown Victoria office, Mann overlooks the antique section of Fort Street. It’s just a few blocks down the road from Oak Bay High, where he graduated in 1976.
It was there that Mann became deeply rooted with the values of youth sports, playing and managing school teams.
He’s been with B.C. Games since 1992 but also co-founded the Kidsport Greater Victoria chapter in 2002, one of the most successful in the country.
When president Randy Blair of the Black Press Lower Mainland division proposed the newspaper chain become one of three corporate sponsors, Mann knew the opportunity at hand.
“We want people to understand the competitive support system in athletic development in B.C.,” Mann said.
“You don’t hear of Ryder Hesjedal as a B.C. Games athlete, you hear of him as a Tour de France competitor. We talk about athletes like they fell out of a tree but really they’ve had a support network since they were eight. This (partnership) will add greater depth to the role of athletes and the support network of the development stage.”
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It’s expected an estimated 2,800 volunteers as well as 2,100 athletes, coaches and officials will be involved in the 18 sports of the Winter Games.
The youngest possible athletes are nine-year-old figure skaters, the oldest (able-bodied) athletes 17, in hockey and netball.
Athletes with a disability will range in age from 13 to 40 and will compete in skiing – cross-country (para) and skiing – alpine (para). Athletes with a disability include wheelchair athletes and visually impaired athletes.