Volunteering isn’t as altruistic as it seems.
Some people volunteer just to beef up their med school application. Others enlist because a friend guilt trip’s them into it. And other times—like during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics—volunteers flocked because of the promise of free Olympic clothing.
(Everyone in Vancouver wanted to get their hands on one of those famous blue Olympic jackets, which, right after the Olympics, were selling on Craigslist for as much as $500. The funny thing is, those jacket were only cool for two weeks. Now the only place you'll see them is on Hastings street. Near the safe injection site. On homeless men).
The odd person, though, volunteers just to be a good, helpful person. Alex Alami is one of these rare volunteers.
At CrossFit competitions and fitness throwdowns around the globe, the organizers generally take a moment to acknowledge the volunteers and judges. The scene is always the same: Everyone claps politely to briefly show their appreciation, and then the competition carries on.
At the recent Winter Challenge at the Richmond Oval, though, the organizers took the time to salute one particular volunteer: Alex Alami.
Alami loves CrossFit. As much as anyone. He works out more than his fair share and he can generally keep up with the top tier of men at most gyms. But when it comes to competition—from local throwdowns to the Canada West regional competition—Alami is always the first to sign-up. As a volunteer judge.
He's a staple at events in Vancouver, giving more than his fair share of time, but it didn’t occur to him that he would, or even should, be recognized for his efforts. In fact, he thought Dave Kitchen was calling him out at the Winter Challenge to give him shit.
“I had no idea they were going to recognize me that way. While judging that heat, there were a few no-reps on pull-ups. When the athlete got off the bar, Dave Kitchen asked me, ‘Four, five no reps?’ So when Dave asked me to stick around after that heat (to be recognized), I thought they wanted to talk to me about something I had done wrong,” Alami said.
But, of course, Kitchen asked Alami to stick around to publicly present him with an award, not just for his efforts at the Winter Challenge, but for giving up his weekend multiple times a year. Alami explained why he's so willing to help: “I actually enjoy judging,” said Alami, who has been judging and refereeing since high school. “Todd (Widman) said it best when he was the head judge for the regional in 2012. ‘When we do our job well, athletes perform their best.’”
Although he loves judging, Alami he might not be judging at the next Triple Crown event at CrossFit North Vancouver in January. Not because he doesn’t want to. But because he’s thinking of doing something for himself, for once. He’s thinking about competing!