"I'd just won a gold medal and set a record in the 100 meter free. I was wearing my medal while walking back to our room at UBC when members of the Taiwanese Police volleyball team saw I won gold. They ran over to congratulate me. We ended up trading a bunch of swag. They were so friendly and excited that I got a gold medal."
Holly Bird hails from Hertfordshire, England and is no stranger to law enforcement. With both parents retiring from a long career with the police, and her brother currently working a neighboring division, Holly herself first started her journey in law enforcement at the age of 18. Since that time, she has worked in many roles, starting out in dispatch, but recently became an Officer! She is passionate about helping genuine victims obtain true justice and that focus keeps her fueled during the long hours and sometimes adverse situations.
Because of the nature of the job, Holly is often reminded of how short life can be. Last year, the point was driven home that we all are only given one life to live, there are no dress rehearsals. Holly says “Life is too short to dwell on things that you cannot change, too short to have negative people bringing you down in your life and too short to not be making yourself happy. I have made some big changes in my life over the last 12 months. But, regret scares me a lot more than change does so I embrace it now. That change of mind set is the whole reason I jumped on the chance to come to Fairfax!” Holly, we are glad you’re making the leap!
Karate has been a part of Holly’s life for the majority, starting with Wado Ryu at the age of 8 and switching to Shotokan in her early teens. Her favorite movies/tv shows were – not surprisingly - The Karate Kid, Power Rangers and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and she wanted to learn all of the amazing moves, including the spinning high kicks. Her father was a karateka (practitioner of karate) and watching him consistently reach his goals and obtain his black belt, she too wanted that same achievement for herself.
Entering European competition when she was 18, she began to love the art of making every technique look as beautiful and accurate as possible (kata). Recently, she has also begun to enjoy kumite as well, which literally translated means “grappling hands.”
Karate is not just a sport for Holly, it is truly a way of life. She says “It’s the constant in my life that I can turn to whenever things feel out of balance. I think most martial artists understand that.” We asked what sport she would love to try or learn and she answered beach volleyball, although she readily admits that while her hand / eye coordination is stellar in the martial arts, when you add a ball to the mix, it all goes downhill.
Citing her parents as her true heroes, watching them live their lives to the fullest serves as great motivation for Holly. What an amazing surprise to Holly that her parents will be coming along with her to watch her compete at the Fairfax 2015 Games!
Outside of her own family, she greatly respects Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez for his style, charisma and his love of the spiritual side of fighting. In recent years, Holly has begun to follow and hold great admiration for Ronda Rousey as she develops and smashes down barriers for women in Martial Arts.
If Holly isn’t training or working, you’ll find her surfing! She loves being in the sea, away from the noise of everyday life. Spending time with friends and family is also important to her, especially her adorable 5 year old nephew! Holly is a firm believer of alternative therapies and enjoys growing her own plants and foods and believes in the healing power of crystals. She is an advocate of healthy homegrown foods and loves making them taste as good as the full fat versions!
HOLLY IS MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO: meeting all of her fellow athletes, visiting DC in the summertime and is SUPER excited about seeing the Foo Fighters in concert on July 4th!
There are only a few weeks left until the 2015 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG), hosted by Fairfax County, V.A., will hold its opening ceremonies on Friday, June 26 at RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. With an estimated 12,000 law enforcement and fire service personnel from around the globe traveling to the Washington, D.C. region, many will arrive through either Washington Dulles International Airport or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Not only will these be the arrival sites of many of the World Police and Fire Games participants, the airports have eleven Public Safety officials who volunteered as representatives to compete in the games.
One of the competitors in the 2015 WPFG is Clara Irurita, an Airports Authority Firefighter at Washington Dulles International Airport. Irurita is a member of the women’s outdoor soccer team comprised of 11 female athletes from Police and Fire departments in surrounding jurisdictions. Although these first responders may have different jobs professionally, on the field they are all part of a team that seamlessly communicates and coordinates each play leading to wins and a great team spirit.
Irurita’s philosophy is that there needs to be a steady flow of information between everyone in order to achieve a given objective. She believes this applies in the sport of soccer and with her team, the U.S. Capitol Police Alliance, specifically.
“If we are not focused on the game or communicating to one another there is a greater chance that we would not have a good team dynamic and achieve any success on the field,” Irurita said.
As the Games approach, Irurita looks forward to the great team atmosphere and cohesiveness that leads to winning soccer matches. Despite being the only firefighter on a team of police officers, Clara recognizes that she’s part of a community, which shares the common goal of representing the U.S. during the World Police and Fire Games.
Serving as a firefighter for more than 8 years, Clara Irurita, 31, joined Station 302 at Dulles International Airport only recently, in 2014. Although, she is a newcomer to the Airports Authority, Irurita is not new to the field of athletic competition, especially in the soccer arena. Clara first began playing soccer as a child at a local park with kids in her neighborhood. Then, she began playing competitively at the age of 14 and continued the sport while she attended college.
After 20 years of experience on the soccer field, Clara is ready to play in the WPFG as a right forward.
“This is truly an incredible opportunity to represent the nation’s capital on an international level through a sport that I have so much passion for,” said Irurita.
For Irurita and her teammates, competing on the international soccer stage brings the added challenge of facing a high level of competition from experienced teams from around the world.
Irurita is determined to not only be prepared but be in the best shape possible; she and her U.S. Capitol Police Alliance teammates are training 6 days a week and competing in soccer matches 5 days per week. In total, the team has been practicing together for 6 months.
Irurita and her teammates have learned to balance their intense training schedule with their jobs as emergency responders, which is made easier through the support of their colleagues.
“The people I work with at the Airports Authority have been very supportive, they even take time from their busy schedules to train with me each week.” she said.
Airports Authority Fire Chief Gary Mesaris is one of her biggest supporters and will be at the Games cheering for Irurita and her team.
“Since joining the Airports Authority, Clara has always shown an impressive work ethic that makes us proud to have her as part of our team at Washington Dulles International Airport,” Mesaris said. “Clara’s strong dedication and passion for her sport makes her a great participant for the World Police and Fire Games.”
Irurita recognizes that the Games are more than just about the winning for her, and she is excited to represent the U.S. as the hosts of the games. She hopes to inspire other young women to enter the field of public safety and consider competing internationally in the Games in the future – maybe as early as the 2017 Games, set to take place in Montreal, Canada, or the 2019 Games in Sichuan, China.
Athletes traveling through Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on their way to or from the 2015 World Police and Fire Games are invited to visit special welcome booths on the baggage claim level to receive a free gift, while supplies last, and pick up information about the region.
The Fairfax 2015 World Police & Fire Games are seeking one of the most important elements of a successful event – volunteers! The Fairfax 2015 Volunteer Services Team has recruited thousands of volunteers, but is still looking for more helping hands.
Eileesh Buckley knows first-hand how exciting and rewarding volunteering at the Games can be. Having volunteered at the most recent competition in Belfast, Eileesh Buckley is hoping to come back for this year’s Games in Fairfax, Virginia. Eileesh got involved in the 2013 Games for some good fun and found her experience to be extremely rewarding. Eileesh volunteered at the registration desk.
“Working at the registration desks was great fun as I made new friends on that team, while also meeting so many competitors and their families visiting for the Games,” reflected Eileesh. Eileesh found that meeting the varied mix of Games athletes was the most interesting part of the multi-sport event. From competitive athletes, to those participating for the social aspect, she saw the sense of camaraderie that the Games drive begin to develop between these unique invidividuals.
This summer, the WPFG will be hosted by Fairfax County from June 26 and July 5. The Games will bring together more than 12,000 law enforcement officers and firefighters from across the world to compete in events ranging from ice hockey to muster, a fast-paced athletic challenge based on the teamwork, speed and endurance required of firefighters. There are volunteer roles available in the following areas: Protocol, Venues and Competition, Registration and Accreditation, Media Relations, Logistics, Transportation and Special Events.
For many of the volunteer positions, no previous experience is required. Join in on the fun and apply to volunteer here: http://fairfax2015.com/volunteer