Camaraderie comes easy in team sports. Elite performance requires more effort, often times through grinding consistency and dedication.
For JP Perron, his effort embodied four-day-per-week practices with the Manitoba men’s volleyball team for one year leading up to the 1985 Canada Summer Games in New Brunswick. The hours forged an elite-level volleyball team seeking gold.
The team marched through early round play and met with the Quebec men’s team – an eastern juggernaut and gold-medal favourite. Team Manitoba upset the number-one ranked squad in the fifth and deciding set to punch their ticket to the finals against fellow prairie rivals Saskatchewan.
“We felt there was so much parity among the top teams that anybody could beat anybody,” said Perron. “We were fortunate that day was our day. We played incredibly well and fought our way to the finals.”
Perron and Team Manitoba eventually lost to Team Saskatchewan, earning them a silver medal. Despite the finals loss, Perron’s experience had a lasting effect.
“I wished we won gold but I knew long term that the memories of the Games would far exceed a gold medal,” Perron said. “I played alongside so many talented and kind people that, for many of us, still have friendships today.”
The Games also instilled virtues Perron would rely upon throughout the next three decades.
“Playing in the Games taught me discipline and time management,” Perron said. “It made it easier transitioning to university volleyball, which eventually landed me my first job.”
That first job was an entry-level position at a payroll company. Five-day-per-week workdays and 31 years later, Perron is now President of Payworks, a national workforce management solutions provider headquartered in Winnipeg.
The 2017 Canada Summer Games mark two significant milestones. It’s the Games’ 50th anniversary and Canada’s 150th birthday. Perron’s advice to this year’s crop athletes: hold nothing back.
“Embrace the whole experience. Athletes will play alongside so many talented and kind people, and for some of them, the Games are a stepping stone to the Olympics. Make the most of your opportunity.”