Vernon’s Ann Holmes has earned a Sport B.C. President’s Award for her tireless volunteer efforts with KidSport and other local sports organizations.

Holmes goes to bat for the kids

Vernon’s Ann Holmes earns Sport B.C. President’s Award for tireless volunteer efforts with KidSport and other local sports organizations.

One weekend, she’s helping promote KidSport at the Vipers Golf Tournament. The next, she’s in Vancouver for Softball B.C. meetings.

In between, she’s visiting her mom, kids and grandchildren in Alberta, running programs for parks and rec and lining up one-to-one readers for Ellison School.

Ann Holmes gets things done, often in a hurry, and never says no when asked to contribute. Traits which won her a Sport B.C. President’s Award earlier this year.

The honours go to volunteers from Sport B.C. member groups who represent the spirit of volunteerism, and whose dedication, energy and commitment make a difference.

Holmes, whose silver 2006 Toyota Corolla is neatly organized with important papers, has done everything from coaching to serving as president of Vernon Minor Fastball.

She first got involved in fastball with president Cheryl Paris and director Anne Tutte, helping them folding newsletters.

“I just went from there,” laughed Holmes. “I’m hands-on and as my husband says, I ‘Do it for the kids.’ I was a teacher and I like fastball. I just feel I have something to give to the kids and the reward is seeing the kids learn and having fun.”

Paris, who ran minor ball for five years and coached for 20, remembers Holmes as the consummate numbers lady.

“The nice thing about Ann is she wasn’t an expert coach, but she was a really good organizer, which left me to coach, which is what I really wanted to do,” said Paris. “She organized summer camps for the little kids and tournaments almost every weekend. That was a big job. She was our go-to-person.”

Recreation services director Doug Ross met Holmes at a Level 3 coaching course and soon after, hired her to help with volleyball leagues and several drop-in sessions.

“She is KidSport, no doubt about that,” said Ross. “Ann gets it done. I mean it affectionately: she’s a pit bull. We pay her but not much. She does it more out of the goodness of her heart. We’ve already told her she can’t leave.”

Born and raised in Truro, N.S., her father, Clifford worked for the railroad and the military so the family of  five moved around a lot. Holmes graduated from high school in Oromotco, N.B. in 1967, the same city where her father founded the curling club. Her mother, Shirley, 86, lives in Sherwood Park.

Holmes (nee Stewiacke) attended Teacher’s College in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. She inhertited some athletic genes from her father, who played hockey with Sears catalogues for shinpads, and fastball.

Holmes and her husband, Bob, started a family in Woodinville, Wash. before moving to Vernon in 1991. During a four-year stay in Washington, they billeted Petr Nedvěd of the Western Hockey League Seattle Thunderbirds.

Nedvěd, a second-round draft pick of the Canucks who spent 15 years in the NHL, left the then Czechoslovakia as a refugee on Jan. 2, 1989 at the age of 17 after playing in the international Mac’s Midget tournament in Calgary. Nedvěd was the star of the tourney, with 17 goals and nine assists.

“We billeted Stu Malgunus for one year and then Stu and Peter for a year before we had Doug Barault for a year. Petr became part of our family. He was asked to throw out the first pitch at a Mariners’ game so Jon, Becky and Miles (her children) taught him how to throw a pitch.”

She gets advice and backing from her hubby, who is retired from the re-insurance business.

“Bob is an Oregon Duck. He went there on a track scholarship out of Toronto. He was an awesome runner and in Midget, he held triple and high jump records. He’s been supportive of what I do and always supportive of our kids in anything that we do. He didn’t know much it cost to volunteer until I quit working.”

Holmes, who spent five years helping in the Vernon Curling Club office, has been involved in KidSport since 2001. She allocates funding.

“We help between 250 and 275 kids a year. It was started here by Chris Nelson, in memory of his son, Mark (died in 1997, at age 20,  of brain cancer). It’s a great program and we have great support. We cover registration fees and help them get equipment through JumpStart at Canadian Tire. Mike (Melbourne) and Marg (Griffin) are great supporters at Sun Valley Source For Sports.

“Sometimes we talk to the parents and they are very appreciative. The school principals are just awesome. They validate the applications.”

A Level 2 certified curling official, Holmes has worked at some major events, including the 2008 World Ford Women’s in Vernon. She’s high on the elite curlers.

“They’re very good for the fans. At that level, a lot of athletes are unapproachable, but curlers are awesome to deal with.”

When in Vernon, she also makes time for her daughter and grandson. She also makes mouth-watering jam for family and friends.

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