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Laurier alumna Rebecca Watts volunteers with anti-doping team at Olympics
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Rebecca Watts is excited to be present at all 17 days of the Vancouver Olympics, but the Laurier alumna won’t always be taking in the excitement of the games.
Instead, she will be behind the scenes, working with hundreds of other volunteers who form the Olympics’ anti-doping team. Watts will spend most of her time in the anti-doping “command centre,” assisting with the program’s day-to-day needs.
“Anti-doping is important to keep an even playing field for all athletes involved,” says Watts, who’s hoping the search for drugs turns up no results.
A kinesiology and physical education grad, Watts’ interest in anti-doping was piqued after taking professor Tim Elcombe’s Ethics in Sport, Exercise and Health class at Laurier.
Her urge to attend the Olympics, however, came after taking a class with professor Stephen Wenn.
“Anyone who has taken his Modern Olympics class wants to go to the games!” Watts says. “He truly encourages and motivates all his students to be a part of the Olympic movement, while educating us on the relevance of sport in society.”
After graduating in 2008 and earning a sport business management degree at Algonquin College, Watts took on two internships that would give her the relevant experience to be an Olympic volunteer. One internship was at Speed Skating Canada and the other at the Association of National Anti-Doping Organisations (ANADO).
Watts recently accepted a full-time position at ANADO, which works on behalf of several national organisations to strengthen global anti-doping efforts. Watts’ job involves liaising with international sport federations and the World Anti-Doping Agency to plan and deliver testing programs.
At the Olympics, Watts is looking forward to meeting people from around the world who are committed to sport.
“Working in an international anti-doping agency, I often liaise with people via email, but now I finally get to meet them,” she says.
Having arrived in Vancouver last week, Watts has already met some of her colleagues from Japan and Korea.
Her trip won’t be all business – Watts is also looking forward to taking in some of the games. Olympic volunteers get to see the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremonies, and she has tickets to a Russia-Latvia hockey game and two luge events.
Watts credits Laurier with helping her get to the Olympics. While at the university she worked in the Athletics Department as a bookings and customer service coordinator, and with the men’s varsity volleyball team for several seasons as an athletic therapist.
“This helped me understand the athlete mentality and the commitment to sport required by elite athletes,” she says. “It helped me find improved ways of communicating the relevance of the anti-doping message to all athletes.
“My time at Laurier was the best five years of my life. The kinesiology program is hands down the best in the country, and provides students the opportunity to succeed both academically and socially.”