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Volunteering at WSSC

Have you’ve ever run in a race, ridden a century or participated in some type of charity fundraising event? Or have you ever tried to organize any of these events yourself? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you know that most events, large and small, are impossible to pull off without the help of volunteers and the success of an event rests largely on the shoulders of its volunteers.

The annual World Spinning® and Sports Conference is no different. Volunteers at WSSC are involved in almost every aspect of the conference from setting up to tearing down, and everything in between. Volunteers help run the Spinning Pro Shop and check-in attendees at the registration counter. There are volunteers in all the rides, monitoring the doors, organizing the standby line and filling riders’ water bottles. There are volunteers in all the sessions, helping Master Instructors set up and collection evaluation forms. Volunteers also move fitness equipment such as balls, tubing, kettle bells (thanks Anthony) and bikes from room to room as needed, and volunteers collect and organize the fitness equipment at the end of each day.

“Why would I want to become a volunteer at WSSC?” you might be asking yourself. Well for starters, how about you get to attend the conference for free? Yes, I said free, as in you save over $300 from the cost of registration ... but wait there’s more. When you’re not working, you can attend sessions just like conference attendees. Here’s what volunteers actually agree to: in return for working one of three conference volunteer shifts, they are free to attend and participate in any session they wish on a space-available basis, but only when they are not scheduled to work. This means that volunteers will not have a guaranteed schedule to attend sessions, but they will have a pass that will allow them entrance to any session after the ticket holders have entered. Volunteers also get the 14 STAR points, just like conference attendees.

The three shifts that volunteer have to choose from are:
1) Setup and teardown: This shift is two 8-hour days: one on Thursday to unpack, set up and organize various aspects of the conference and one on Sunday to tear down and pack up. This leaves volunteers all day on Friday and Saturday free to attend sessions.
2) Shift 1: Volunteers work all day on Friday and on Saturday morning.
3) Shift 2: Volunteers begin work on Saturday afternoon and then work all day on Sunday.

Within each shift there are several jobs with varying hours. In addition to working one of the three volunteer shifts, volunteers are required to be at the conference by 3 PM on Thursday for volunteer check-in and to attend the volunteer orientation meeting. Volunteers are also required to work the Thursday night ride with Josh Taylor and the Friday night ride with the Master Instructor team. All in all, it is about 20 hours of work over three days. Like all the attendees to the conference, volunteers are responsible for their own airfare to the conference and their own lodging, food and incidentals.

So what’s it like to be a volunteer? Let’s talk with someone who has been there. I’d like to introduce my friend, Mat Seretan. Mat is a certified Spinning instructor from Long Beach, California and a WSSC volunteer veteran. Mat was a volunteer at the very first WSSC in Miami, held at the Eden Roc Hotel in 2001. Mat’s last tour of duty was in 2006. In 2004 and 2005, Mat did double duty as a volunteer and as an assistant to presenter Jeff Wimmer, master mechanic and all-around great guy. In 2007 and 2008, Mat attended WSSC solely as an assistant to Jeff. Overall, Mat has been to 10 WSSCs, seven as a volunteer (six in Miami and once in Chicago in 2002). According to Mat, being a volunteer takes a special energy and a positive attitude, since everything doesn’t always go according to the plan. Volunteers need “to be able to roll with the punches … and be able to just smile and laugh it off.”

Another key quality, according to Mat is a strong sense of responsibility. “As a volunteer you’ve made a commitment to MDA to be on time and do whatever is needed to be done, whenever it needs to be done,” says Mat. “Having to move bikes for the evening rides means that you’ll often be late joining your friends for dinner, and you can't drop everything to ‘blow off’ your assigned duty to meet up with your friends by the pool on a nice sunny day.”

To sum it all up, Mat says of his volunteering experience, “Looking at the big picture, I feel volunteering can be a great experience. You have the chance to be part of a team and get a real behind the scenes look at how the whole WSSC is put together. You also have more of an opportunity to chat with and get to know the Master Instructors, as well as regular conference goers, than you would as just a regular attendee. Through being a volunteer, I was able to collect enough STAR points to receive life-time certification in just three years and was also able to meet a lot of great people, many who I'm still good friends with to this day.”

To apply to become a volunteer, go to http://www.spinning.com/en/conferences_trade_shows and click on the Volunteer Application link. Download and fill out the application. An additional requirement of the process is that applicants must send a $300 check with their application. This is to ensure that volunteers successfully complete their obligations by reporting to all of their assignments. At the end of the conference, volunteers are given their checks back to tear up and dispose of properly.

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