This weekend, I was a volunteer at the CrossFit Games NorCal Regionals. There were way more volunteers than necessary, and my team leader was overworked, so he didn't give me any specific responsibilities. However, my volunteer bracelet served as an all-access pass, so I hung around the control tent, where the athletes lined up to go on the field, then staggered off afterwards.
The first cool thing that happened was that I spotted Bob Harper, said hello, then tweeted a picture of him.
More hanging around, until the head judge realized at the last minute that he didn't have enough people. He asked for volunteers, so I walked up. My job was simple:
- Watch each team member row 1000 meters.
- Make sure they held on to the handle for the entire 1000m.
- Hit the reset button between athletes.
So I stood around and hit one button over and over. It turned out that the team I was judging set a worldwide competition record for that event, and a picture of them ended up on the crossfit.com main site... with me standing behind the rower, ready to press buttons.
The head judge asked for volunteers again the next day, and this time someone handed me a JUDGE t-shirt as I was running onto the field for the final team competition. I pulled it on, but then the head judge realized he had enough people after all. I got to keep the shirt, but didn't have to judge; best of both worlds, because judging the final team event looked complicated and stressful, not to mention sunburny.
I noticed that the athlete's warm-up area was a total mess: water bottles and tape everywhere, dumbbells and plates scattered, not enough equipment... so I decided to tidy it up and keep it stocked. I set up the 345-pound barbell that all the individual men used to warm up for their final event, and all the athletes chalked up in the chalk buckets that I kept full. Each athlete selected the height they wanted for the rings, and at least one of them left some blood behind. I saw all the athletes up close; the men are really big and ripped, and most of the women are pretty small and ripped, except for their thighs, which are tremendous. This also put me in position to observe the athletes as they came off the field after each event, usually covered with sweat and dust.
I didn't know what volunteering would be like; the only part of my prediction that was spot-on is that my neck got sunburnt.
To get involved in an event, volunteer. If you're not given specific tasks, you can still contribute, with this passive/active couplet:
a) Cultivate passive availability: stand around where things are happening and be available.
b) Cultivate active service: look for ways to contribute, then jump in.
c) A sunburn is a reasonable price to pay to be this close to champions.