Dr. Van Bussel is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Sport Management at Brock University. Dr. Van Bussel has over 18 years of academic, administrative, and service experience in sport management. His educational background includes a PhD focusing on Sport Law and Policy Studies from Western University. He has won awards in teaching and coaching and was named OUA (USPORT) Provincial Coach of the Year on two separate occasions with the Western University Women’s Soccer Program. His research interests include Sport Law, Risk Management, Governance and Policy, and Coach and Athlete Communication.
It’s been a long journey throughout. I started intending to go to law school and I was accepted but at that time coaching and sport management became a big part of what I wanted to do. I went back and did my first masters in coaching education at the University of Victoria. Worked with our National Coaching association with the National Coaching Institute in in Victoria and worked with Canada soccer. I worked with U19’s that were preparing for the World Championships in Edmonton. I also worked in a camp with athletes that were under 10 years old all the way to professional athletes. It was a great experience for me, I got to coach my own teams and work with them. And that’s where I fell in love with graduate work, I went back and got a second masters in sport management at Western University. Then my PhD which focused on sport management in sport law, I worked with Dr. Greg Dickinson at Western again. After that, I had the opportunity to go to Jacksonville University, I taught there and worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the PGA and a number of different of organizations in the Jacksonville area.
It was a great experience, but I wanted to come back to Canada. Thankfully, Fanshawe College offered some opportunities to do that. I was a chair at Fanshawe College for awhile and then the opportunity came up to be here at Brock. Since then, it’s been a wonderful fit, I feel like I’m home here in the Brock sport management community. It’s been a fantastic adventure working with a number of different sports organizations and many wonderful researchers along the way.
With the Centre for Sport Capacity, it’s been a great opportunity working together with Dr. Julie Stevens and Cole McClean and looking at different initiatives right out of the gate. I talked early along with Dr. Michele Donnelly and Dr. Hilary Findlay about creating a conference on safe sport and they were integral in creating that experience. We had a great team of student leaders that we were able to work along in helping develop the conference; having it as a great educational experience for them. It was great to get involved with the student experience here and to have outreach. I think that our safe sport conference was essential in terms of creating a connection. Kind of first of its kind especially in a virtual environment and being able to have outreach to too many different organizations across our country, as well as internationally was a great addition.
I had the opportunity to teach the second-year law classes early on when I came to Brock. It was an engaging topic, and it was great to be involved with that right away. I created the new governance course that we have here on campus, around three years ago now. It allows individuals to engage in aspects of governance across organizations and looks at how governance has a significant impact on our sport community. Students are also able to do analysis of governance on an international level. They are asked to dive into different sport organizations that they are interested in and work with their peers to find out information, potentially opening some doors for them to work in those organizations in the future as well. So those were exciting opportunities to start with.
I also taught the intro course for first-year students during the pandemic, so that was a major shift from in class to online and having an impact on them. We still maintained some synchronous components with seminars, which was great and hopefully our first years had a great experience with that. In addition, I taught the negotiations course for fourth-year students. Presently, we’re looking at different types of interactions and looking at the science and the art of negotiations, making sure we can have success in our negotiation environment in the future. My goal is to try to engage students and change up my teaching on occasion so they can have different experience in the classroom. Hopefully, they learn some tools that they can put their toolbox and take with them on their journey in their sport management careers.
My dissertation research dealt with safe sport and looked at relational risk management between coaches and athletes. It took a proactive approach to leveling the playing field and having reciprocal conversations between athletes, coaches, and administrators, to be able to identify relational risks and being wary of the situations that can happen. It also included these so we lso being able to adjust and grows so that they don’t spiral out of control that we’ve seen in some of those past experiences. You know, in Canada, United States, we want to make sure that we have an impact on safe sport.
And it generate new ways of thinking of how we can promote safe sport so that athletes are engaged in the process that administrators and coaches are engaged in the process and that there’s costs of communication that goes on. So the development of the Safe Sport Conference was. It was a key, Part 2 that we wanted to not only have the conference, but have some legacy items that went along with that, and it started off. We were lucky to receive a grant from here from Brock, a Explore grant RA in exchange.
- What clubs or associations are you involved with?
I’ve been a board member on some of our local soccer clubs here in London, ON. I have been consistently involved in the coaching community, running clinics and different things. I’m also assisting Boler Mountain with some of their coaching and teaching development. And they’re two and then also having an opportunity to look at. I’ve also been involved with other local sport organizations, such as youth baseball and football organizations. Whether it be in a coaching, administrative or an advisor capacity, I’m always looking for those opportunities.
I also have some great connections with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. Dr. Kirsty Spence and I are doing some studies looking at the True Sport Clean program, and its development. I am also assisting in leadership development with a sport and strategy law group. Lastly, I have my connections to Team Canada Soccer, I look to maintain all these relationships going forward and continue fostering many relationships in our sporting environment.
- What is your favourite TV show at the moment?
I watch a lot of sports, so that’s you know I’m a big NFL fan, so I watch a lot of a lot of NFL. I’m starting to watch Ted Lasso now as well. It’s always good to have some lighthearted comedy and some different things that come forward as well. So there there’s some great miniseries and different things on. I’m also a history buff, so I like some historical type of shows that that have a great connection too as well. So that’s some of my favourites at the moment
- What is your favourite sports teams?
My family lived in the Jacksonville area for awhile, so we are Jags fans which hasn’t been easy. Being the last place team last year and going through the bumps and bruises; but the skies are looking brighter in terms of our quarterback situation there. So excited to cheer on the on the Jags! From a soccer perspective, I’ve always been a Chelsea fans. But my original team is PSV Eindhoven, which is in Holland. That’s where my family is from before they moved to Canada. So, I have a great connection with the PSV and enjoy cheering them on. Obviously for hockey, basketball, and baseball, I have the Toronto connection with the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Blue Jays; all great representatives of our Canadian sport environment.
My sport journey started off with coaching, when I was maybe 16 or 17 and I really fell in love with it. I was always an athlete; I played football and soccer, so to me coaching was my way to give back to sport. I was fortunate enough to be an assistant coach at Wilfrid Laurier University with the men’s soccer program and then eventually took over. As well, I was an assistant coach at Western University and eventually head coach of the women’s soccer program there. I was humbled to be honored as the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) coach of the year for 2 years in a row. Our team was ranked number one in Canada for those two years and went to nationals. All the credit goes to that fantastic team with the women’s soccer program. They not only love to play together on the field, but they also loved to be around each other, and they had the task and social cohesion at its maximal level. That was a great experience and a great shoutout to that incredible group. I owe them lots of credit for those awards as well.