Like most mothers, Annie Mae Roffey became involved in sports because of her five children.
Like most devoted mums, she had to be a taxi service, minder, nurse, coach, peacekeeper and motivator besides all her other commitments.
That was years ago when they were tiny, but even now with them all grown up she is still actively involved in Cayman’s sports scene.
Her offspring are Kathryn (26), Brian (23), Heather (21) and twins Sean (18) and Gillian (18). But unlike most women, Roffey has followed the path much higher – going from cheering mother on the sidelines to Chief Operating Officer of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee.
But the transition from devoted mother to COO did not take place overnight and Roffey does have an impressive résumé. This is why Merta Day, Women’s Sports Coordinator in the Cayman Islands Department of Sports, selected her as one of the women to profile for Honouring Women Month.
Day said: ‘Annie Mae Roffey’s story will be an inspiration to women. She is an exceptional woman who not only raised an Olympian, her daughter Heather, but whose contribution to sports on a local and international level is unmatched.’
Roffey’s path to success began 22 years ago when Kathryn, reached school age and began participating in sports days, swim meets, then T-ball and softball. Before long she was elected to the board of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association and later to the board of the Cayman Island Games Association. During that time she caught the eyes of the CIOC board because of her incredible work ethic as well as her organisational skills.
The Olympic Committee appointed her as Chef de Mission to the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 followed by the crème de la crème, the Athens Olympics in 2004 and then to the Pan Am Games last year. It is easy to see that Roffey’s enjoyment of sports has evolved into a passion.
So why did she move from the sidelines to volunteer extraordinaire, to administrator to COO? ‘Because my children were involved in sports from a young age, and there were five of them,’ she says.
‘I had to take them to activities and wait for them and helping out was more fun than just sitting around. The helping out turned into volunteering for more and more activities.’
And then she was encouraged to take up the COO position at the Olympic Committee. ‘The opportunity was presented to me at a time when I felt like a change in career. I decided that I could do with less stress, a different challenge and some alternate brain activity.’
Roffey said that so far she really likes her new position. ‘I have four great ‘bosses’ in the CIOC executive committee. I have been familiar with a lot of the federations and associations for years through volunteering with the Swimming Association and the Island Games Association, and also as Chef de Mission for various tournaments.
‘This has also enabled me to be familiar with the athletes for the different disciplines. I am actually doing much more than I ever did before in sports and learning more every day about the local and international aspects of support for sports.’
Roffey highlights a few of her favourite moments. ‘I was Chef de Mission when Kareem won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2000, I was Chef de Mission when Shaune Fraser won silver at Pan Am Games, and the Olympic Games was an awesome experience for all the athletes who participated.’
On a personal level, she notes that she was also at the CAC Games when Heather won gold. ‘I was not working the games that year, so that was special. I could be her proud mom and not feel I was being partial. Before all this there were athletes excelling at Carifta Games, both in swimming and athletics, whom I was there to support.’ She was also there to cheer Heather on at the Athens Olympics four years ago.
Roffey said she is pleased to be chosen but thinks ‘women should be honoured year round. I believe women should be respected in a family, a household, the workplace and the community. By respecting them, they will automatically be highly honoured by those around them. Women play an essential role in the community.’