Canada Games athletes, volunteers invited to share experiences with Brock historians

Brock University researchers are capturing Canada Games history as it happens from the perspective of athletes and volunteers on the ground.

As part of the Sport Oral History Archive (SOHA), co-directed by Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak and Professor of Sport Management Julie Stevens, a team is working on campus to capture the stories of athletes and volunteers participating in the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games to add them to their growing online collection. The Games take place on Brock University’s campus and at various locations throughout the Niagara region from Aug. 6 to 21.

“SOHA is a unique partnership between Sport Management and History,” says Stevens. “You don’t usually see this kind of interdisciplinary work. What it brings to the Canada Games is a special collection of athlete and volunteer voices.”

Athletes’ and Volunteers’ Corner will take place Thursdays and Fridays during the Games — Aug. 11, 12, 18 and 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. Recent History graduates will be on hand to record experiences and impressions of Niagara 2022 in the Digital Scholarship Lab in Brock’s Rankin Family Pavilion. All Canada Games athletes and volunteers are welcome to participate in a short, two-minute interview.

Four people stand looking at a projector screen that has an old image of cyclists on it.

Jason Corry (BA ’22), Knowledge Mobilization Co-ordinator, Brock Canada Games Academic, previews the Canada Games slide show with Paige Groot (BA ’22), Kirsten Koop and Mike Storms (BA ’22). The team will be running a slide show of past Canada Games images and demonstrating how the images are being digitized Tuesday evenings during the Games.

“We know in sport right now that participants’ voices are important for us to hear,” says Stevens. “Capturing these in the moment will provide a very interesting perspective of a Games experience.”

The project is part of a collaboration with Canada Games that took place over more than two years leading up to Niagara 2022, says Vlossak.

“It’s so exciting to have the opportunity to showcase our work during the Games and to engage with Games participants,” she says. “We are especially looking forward to hearing from young athletes and volunteers about their experiences and adding their voices to our Canada Games collection.”

Complementing Athletes’ and Volunteers’ Corner is the SOHA Studio, a public demonstration of SOHA’s work digitizing past Canada Games material. The showcase will happen in the Digital Scholarship Lab on Tuesday, Aug. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. Last October, the Canada Games Council delivered more than 66,000 slides, photographs and images to SOHA for digitization.

While then-fourth-year History students Michael Storms (BA ’22) and Kat Rice digitized more than 500 images at that time and conducted research on lacrosse and women’s hockey,  there is more work to be done.

Storms, who has since graduated, returned to Brock to help demonstrate the digitization process and record athletes’ contributions alongside History graduate Paige Groot (BA ’22) and fourth-year History student Kirsten Koop. SOHA Research Assistant Anitta Martignago will also be on site. The team is supported by Jason Corry (BA ’22), Knowledge Mobilization Co-ordinator, Brock Canada Games Academic.

“Every Games group has their own experience,” says Storms. “We’re in a weird time, post-COVID. It will be interesting to see how the Games changes their lives and what differences there may be from the past.”

Groot, who will be helping to record stories, isn’t new to oral history. She was among the Brock History students who collected stories for the Garden City Arena for SOHA last November.

“The major difference is that we were collecting people’s memories after they happened and they had time to reflect them on,” she says. “Now, it’s almost like we are historians of the present. We’re getting to collect history as it is happening and understanding how these athletes and volunteers feel they are being impacted by the Games while they are happening.”

The team is excited to collect and share participants’ voices, and to get the public excited about history.

“Now everyone is going to hear how wonderful the Games are and how great it is to have them here,” says Storms.

What: Athletes’ and Volunteers’ Corner
When: Aug. 11, 12, 18 and 19 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: The Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rankin Family Pavilion at Brock University

What: SOHA Studio digitization demo and slideshow
When: Aug. 16, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: The Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rankin Family Pavilion at Brock University

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