Aaron Flood watched his dad shake hands with then-premier Roger Grimes during the opening ceremonies of the 1995 Canada Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alta.
He thought it was cool that his dad — Ed Flood — was a member of the mission staff for Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the biggest amateur sports event in Canada.
He was only a kid but it made him think about the games as an event he would like to experience himself one day.
The 1999 Canada Winter Games were held in Corner Brook and Flood came close to making his Canada Games debut as an artistic gymnastic, but he was the odd man out and never earned one of the seven spots up for grabs.
The 1999 edition of the games was an eye opener for him. He saw first-hand how much effort goes into staging the games and he watched his dad Ed and mom Georgina play a key role in helping make the games a success.
Flood got his wish in 2003 when he represented his province in artistic gymnastics at the 2003 games held in Bathurst, N.B., and it proved to be one of the most memorable experiences of his life.
He was proud to wear his province’s colours as one of the best in his sport. He enjoyed meeting other athletes from across the country, trading pins, swapping team apparel and enjoying the comforts of home at the Athletes Village for a whirlwind week.
Flood is now excited about having a chance to provide the best male and female athletes in this province with the same wonderful experience.
He hopes to do so in his role as the Canada Games co-ordinator for Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a role that will also see him serve as a member of the mission staff for the squash team during the second week of the games.
He is responsible for everything from budget to travel to ordering team apparel for the 241 athletes, coaches and support staff who will be travelling to the games in Red Deer, Alta., in a couple of months.
Flood hopes his athletes can perform at the top of their game and some hardware would be desired, but his main concern is ensuring everybody has a positive experience like he did when he represented the province.
“I had such a good experience at the games and I would like 241 more people to have an even better experience,” Flood said Thursday from St. John’s.
As organized as you want to be, Flood said there are a couple of things that he views as issues that could come into play with the games being held out West.
Weather is a big concern because it’s a long journey from the Rock to Red Deer. In one day alone you have 102 athletes coming home and 119 going up.
“If there are any delays it could be an issue,” he said.
There is also the issue of housing all of the athletes in one spot — in this case the residences of Red Deer College that will serve as the Athletes Village.
The fact that there is a 3.5-hour time difference between the two provinces is also something he will be keeping a close eye on. It’s going to be a much earlier rise for the athletes in Alberta s.
“So they have students moving out one day and athletes moving in two days later so it will be a tight squeeze,” he said.
Flood may have a big role to play, but he knows he’s not in it alone so he’s not going to worry about things out of his control. He knows he has a lot of experienced individuals serving as members of the mission staff so he knows the team will be ready to do everything they can for the athletes.
All that matters to him is seeing the smiles on the face of the athletes who wear Newfoundland and Labrador’s colours.
The beauty of it all is that his dad, so many years after the handshake, will also share the experience as a member of the mission staff.
The Canada Games is all about making memories. For Flood, it will be an experience he figures he and his dad will talk about many years after the torch has been extinguished in Red Deer.