NATASHA Cummings has two families - one is her immediate and the other is the Warrnambool Wolves community.
The Harris Street Reserve-based club has been a part of her life since her eldest son Oscar Cooke started in the miniroos program at five.
Cummings and her partner Phil Cooke started off running around chasing her kids and watching them develop as players.
"We ran around and helped out where we could and as a teacher I was good at herding kids together for want of better word and I would go out there and try and do that," she recalls of those early days.
"I helped set up and pack up and then that led to me doing a lines person course so I could run lines and be helpful."
Phil is now the coach of the under 14s after progressing from an assistant coaching role and Oscar is learning to be a linesman in the junior grades and also helping out with miniroos.
Cummings was content to help out in any way she could. Then, two seasons ago, club president Brett Gasper approached her to be junior coordinator.
Gasper said Cummings had made a big difference in her time in the role.
He said she restructured the entire junior set up for the 2020 pre-season.
He added the pre-season was the most organised and structured he had seen at any grassroots club.
The mother-of-two said this was a way for her to be involved in something her partner and their children adored.
"It's something the boys are passionate about and I am there all the time anyhow and so when Brett asked me to do it I took the opportunity," she said.
"If I didn't have to coach, I was happy to do the organising and behind the scenes, documenting and things like that."
Cummings said she was just one part of the big machine that helps the Wolves' pack run so smoothly.
"I just wanted to try and enable the coaches to their thing," the 45-year-old said of her role as coordinator.
"There is a huge network of people who make it work. I sit in the coordinator role and under my role we have five coaches - two in under 12s and 14s and one 16s.
"They run two nights of coaching a week and one game day. It is a massive undertaking.
"Then within that each team has a team manager to work with coaches and then we also have parents as assistants to help coaches and then the help of volunteers so they can get out and play."
Cummings, who now shares her partner and sons' passion for the world game, said her role was something which suited her skills.
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This was the best way for me to help them," the Emmanuel College photography teacher said.
"Working in the canteen suits some people's skill set but this is something I can do as I am good at organising and I help put it into a format everyone can understand.
"Brett and I work very closely together so that it is clear what we are trying to achieve as a club and so that all volunteers, players and committee are on the same page moving forward.
"We have seen some fantastic growth in that and before we got shut down (for COVID-19) the energy and enthusiasm was amazing.
"The kids were amazing, the parents were amazing and we were really excited until we got shut down but we are really excited to start it back up when ever we can get go ahead."
Even when soccer stops, or is put on hold like it currently is, Cummings is still working closely with the club to make sure it runs smoothly.
"There is still a lot of things going on with Brett and I trying to get things organised," she said.
"When it stops it doesn't really stop. There is always documenting to do in the off-season and stuff like that."
Cummings said it was the people within the club who made it easier to dedicate more of her time.
"Brett has been amazing since he became president. The amount of hours he puts in is extraordinary," she said.
"He has helped implement some massive improvements to help the club.
"One of volunteers there now Jeff Morland-Hunt, he does everything. He was one of the kids' first coaches and he is still there now. He brought a real fun atmosphere to playing soccer."
A sense of community is also a driving factor in the former Melbourne resident's commitment to the club.
"The biggest thing about the Wolves is we are all equal," she said. "There is no A or B teams, we are just the Wolves.
"That is driven by the committee, volunteers, parents, coaches and all of those together bring strength to the club, which is really cool.
"We will continue to help out any way we can and a lot of it has to do with the wonderful atmosphere.
"Many of the volunteers do equal amounts of work. You can also see it in the players, who also want to help out as they are volunteering to referee junior games and help run miniroos.
"It's not about the individual, it is about being part of a whole-club mentality and to helping make our club better.
"The whole Wolves' community is in it together. It's a joyful, wonderful team environment for out kids.
"You see the laughter and kidding around and there is lots of real, positive and active young people out there and the coaches are helping driving a lot of that great culture."
Cummings believes listening, being adaptable and open-minded, remaining unbiased and playing to your strengths are what makes a good volunteer in her eyes.
- For National Volunteer Week The Standard is celebrating the people who help sports across the region continue to run smoothly and efficiently. From Tuesday to Saturday a new volunteer will tell their story of service and dedication.
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