Michael Geertsema is a calm, cool, collected kind of guy. You have to be in order to keep up with all the sports and recreation clubs he’s committed to. Genuine and humble, he puts in an enormous amount of time and effort in support of youth in the community.
A former varsity volleyball player, Geertsema is in his fifth year coaching the Banff High School Junior Boys team. With practices, games, and tournaments, he spends two to three days a week working to incorporate a fun and inclusive style that gets every kid a chance to play: “I decided to start coaching because I always had community coaches helping out and I appreciated that, now it’s my turn.”
While volleyball has long been a favourite pastime, he only began kayaking in 2009 after an introductory course got him hooked. In addition to earning his coaching qualifications, Geertsema has taken a hands-on approach to board structure and club operations, working his way onto the Bow Valley Kayak Club executive committee and currently sitting as club president.
Eager to inspire more youth into the sport, he has focused his time on growing club membership. He has done so not only in numbers, but also in ability. For example, this year, four paddlers went to Nationals and two won at the Alberta Cup. “Kids are getting 30 to 40 days on the water. It’s great to see them start out as tentative kids on small waves to progressing to where they are now,” he says.
Before moving to Banff, Geertsema was living in Lake Louise and working as lifestyle coordinator for the Fairmont Chateau, helping staff find recreational activities in an isolated community. He volunteered his extra time at the Lake Louise Recreation Centre coordinating softball and hockey. He also played a significant role in supporting Canada Day fundraising festivities.
Geertsema has also been involved with the Banff Curling Club since 2012. After joining a team without any past history with the sport, he slowly worked his way up to skip. He was eventually nominated to be treasurer of the club and also lends a hand scheduling the men’s league.
“These clubs and organizations are so welcoming. They put a lot of time and effort into the things that we love,” he says. “I don’t just want to just ask from my community, I also want to give back. It’s nice to feel connected in that way.”