When a heart-strings-tugging tale of perseverance and success by a BC Games athlete reaches out to a reader from a newspaper, Lia Threlfall feels a win.
A passion for sport drives the Oak Bay High grad in her role for the last dozen years, seeking and sharing stories of young athletes as communications manager for the BC Games Society.
“I’ve always loved sport and it’s sport and telling stories about sports,” she said. “It is a great job.”
While she calls Victoria home these days (by about a block), Threlfall grew up on Newport, attended Monterey (then an elementary school) before heading for Oak Bay High, and finally down Caddy Bay way to get a kinesiology degree at the University of Victoria. Throughout her school years she competed in sport, specializing in field hockey and competing at a provincial and varsity level – achieving three national titles with the Vikes.
Threlfall volunteered in press operations during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Her love of multi-sport events dates as far back as seventh grade when she wrote a report on the Calgary Winter Olympics.
Now she plans and implements communications initiatives, including branding and media relations for the BC Games and Team BC.
She enjoys digging into the stories behind the Games, seeking what drives the young competitors to achieve. For some the Games is a first step toward international acclaim and Olympic competition, for others it’s the pinnacle. Either way the light on their faces when hard work pays off, is the best reward for the Games staffer.
“For many it’s their Olympics, it’s their first step or for some it’s as far as they go,” she says. “We’re starting to see kids from the first Games on Olympic teams and doing well internationally.”
More than half of Team BC at the 2015 Canada Winter Games were BC Games alumni and 18 alumni were part of Team Canada at the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“It’s also just amazing to watch them having the time of their lives at 14 years old.”
The young competitors, and their coaches, sleep on foamies on the floor in dorms fashioned from school classrooms and meet fellow athletes at the dance. “It’s a celebration of sport and it is a competition.”
Once in Vernon she discovered a family with three kids competing in the same Games. Watching them rib each other for the camera while the parents watched with pride was a “pretty unique” situation.
And that’s her highlight: “to find those gems and pick them out and have that story shared.”
Threlfall also coaches her two young children and volunteers with KidSport Greater Victoria, the BC Wheelchair Sports Association and the Oak Bay High School Alumni Association. A longtime volunteer as well, these Games mark a return for Threlfall, who coached during a Summer Games in Penticton. “It’s a great community and the volunteers up there are fantastic,” she said.
Volunteers are critical in throwing a successful event, she said, as the BC Games Society includes 10 staff and a successful event requires 1,500 to 1,800 volunteers.
“That’s the other story that continues to amaze me, the time and energy the community puts in to host.”