Beyond Our Edges: Sara Anderson – Providing Spirit in Service to the Sports Community
Sara Anderson is a Professional Engineer in our Calgary office who originally from Italy and calls Canmore home. Aside from being a passionate member of the Urban Systems team, she has been generously volunteering her time with the Canmore Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) for several years. She shares what the experience has been like, and the meaningful ways she is contributing to her community.
What keeps you busy outside of Urban Systems?
My son has been playing hockey with the CMHA for six seasons, and through that, I have been volunteering my time in some capacity. I have volunteered to run the shot clock, the scoreboard, been a Team Manager, and for the last two years, I have been giving my time as the president of the CMHA. That’s really where a lot of my time goes when I’m not at work.
What inspired you to volunteer as president?
To be honest, it was really a case of no one else being able to do it. It is a very time-consuming position, and many people felt they lacked the skills and experience for the role. Coming from Urban Systems, I saw it as a good fit to what I have been doing, as well as a chance to improve my consulting services. For me, I see it as an opportunity to put the idea of spirit in service back to my community. I really want to give all kids the opportunity to play sports, and volunteering my time to them is the perfect way to do that.
Have you had any goals during your terms?
The main goal has been to shift from an older operating model to one that is more transparent and open while also building the program to increase programming and services. The CMHA includes three communities – Canmore, Banff and Stoney First Nation – so, at times, there are challenges getting everyone to come together because of different goals or expectations. When it comes down to it, everything we do is meant to benefit the kids in all communities and to foster their love of hockey.
We’ve initiated some new programs for the kids on top of the usual skating and skills training, adding dryland training, as well as programs for both competitive and more recreational players. We have also started some coaching clinics in partnership with Hockey Alberta, where we provide the funding to send coaches to the clinics. For all our operations, though, it’s about making it clearer where the money the CMHA is spending goes, emphasizing that every dollar spent goes back to the kids in their development or that of their coaches. We want to make sure that no matter their interest level, we are addressing the needs of every child, and no one is turned away for financial reasons.
Has the experience had an impact on your work at Urban Systems?
Because I’m dealing with so many different organizations and groups, my work with the CMHA is very much like being their consultant. I’m dealing with budgets, programming, and even managing grievances from families and members, but it’s all to benefit the community. Often my role also includes searching for and applying for grants through Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada to help keep fees affordable. There’s always something going on every day which is very similar to my role at Urban Systems, so it just strengthens my ability to time manage and deal with many different things at a time.
What has the experience meant to you?
For me, the experience is really rewarding. I feel that sometimes there is so much need in our communities and helping them is important to me to try and make a difference. I don’t always want to think about how much time I spend on it, but I have received a lot of support from both the people within the CMHA and the larger community. As a woman and someone not from Canada, it’s not very common for someone like me to be in this kind of role, so the support is really amazing. And people are really seeing the intention behind what I’ve been trying to do over the last two years. But what is most rewarding is seeing the kids smiling, enjoying the sport, and growing as players. Being president is a two-year term, but I will happily put my name forward again keep volunteering as president for as long as they have me!