Brock Sport Management students maximizing Canada Games experience

A unique experiential learning opportunity is coming to fruition for a group of Brock University Sport Management (SPMA) students.

The long-anticipated Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games kicked off Saturday, Aug. 6, and with it the penultimate experiential learning chapter in Associate Professor Laura Cousens’ SPMA 498 Major Games Field Course, which connects students directly to major sporting events.

“The students are excited. To get the hands-on skills and to see, from the inside, how a multi-sport event works are invaluable experiences,” said Cousens, who has taught the course for more than a decade. “There’s something special with all of this build-up and work having gone into these Games, because they were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our students have had a unique opportunity to get involved with committees and roll up their sleeves in the extended planning process.”

More than 80 Brock students have been involved in the pre-event planning and are volunteering during the Games through various roles including marketing, event services, technology, medical, language services and volunteer recruitment among others.

The course is designed for students seeking experiential opportunities in their field of study and focuses on four key sections: Spectator Engagement, Athletes’ Village and Polyclinic, Social Media and Media Operations.

A group of students stand beside a pond and waterfall.

A group of Brock University Sport Management students are volunteering during the 2022 Canada Summer Games through the Major Games Field Course taught by Professor Laura Cousens’ (front row, third from right).

Among those taking part is fourth-year Sport Management student James Ruddy, who is serving as a volunteer social media assistant with the Games along with two of his classmates.

“We took the class to pursue the social media volunteer positions, and the Canada Games staff who volunteered in our course got us really excited about it,” he said. “Now, we get to go out, shoot content, have fun and talk to people, and it’s been an amazing experience.”

While he’s enjoying the immediacy of responding to social media inquiries from the public and creating new content, Ruddy also said the lessons he is learning could lead to new opportunities in the future.

“This is something that could totally transition into a career,” he said. “It’s addictive and we are all intrigued by what working in social media could become. The Games has given us an amazing start, and we have learned so much about social media and photography. The organizers have given us the tools to make content that will be seen by people from across the country.”

Ruddy and his classmates are part of a growing number of students who have gained first-hand experience through SPMA 498.

The Major Games Field Course has played a key role in more than 400 Brock students landing career opportunities at multi-sport events, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games and the North American Indigenous Games.

“You can learn all of the theory and read every one of the articles, but when I visit students at the Games and they are executing everything we’ve been talking about: that is the takeaway,” Cousens said. “The on-site critical thinking, problem solving, strategic planning and cultural awareness through volunteer experience is a game changer. Every Games is different, but this one is in our backyard, so it provides a lot of enhanced learning experiences.”

To learn more about Brock’s Major Games course, read Cousens’ Teaching Spotlight in The Brock News.

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