• Jess Crosthwaite: Fall 2021 Marketing, Communication, & Business Development Coordinator

    Jess Crosthwaite is a fourth-year sport management student at Brock University. This fall term, she is the Marketing, Communications and Business Development Coordinator (intern) with the Centre for Sport Capacity.

    Hello! My name is Jess Crosthwaite and I am very excited to be a part of the Centre for Sport Capacity. I am starting my fourth and final year of the Sport Management (SPMA) program with a minor in media and communication studies (COMM) here at Brock University. Originally from Pickering, I have spent my whole life playing sports; I enjoyed my time so much that I wanted to pursue an education that would allow me to stay involved in it. As a part of the Sport Management program, there is an option to complete an internship, and understanding the value of gaining real world experience while still in school, I jumped at the opportunity.  Therefore, this semester I will be serving as the Marketing, Communications and Business Development Coordinator intern for the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) 

    Since I began my time at Brock University, I’ve been involved across campus and in the Niagara community and have always sought out chances to . The opportunity for experiential education in the Sport Management program was something I looked forward to and sought out from my very first year. By the time I reached my third year, I was prepared and enthusiastic to submit my application..   

    Upon getting accepted into the sport management internship course, I was met with a list of many options of organizations that were hiring for the Fall 2021 term. However, I was drawn to the role with the CSC as it was a something different from anything I had experienced in previous roles. While I have been involved in the operational and recreation side of sport, such as my summer spent as a tournament operations assistant with the Canadian Junior Golf Association, and my intramural supervisor role with Brock Recreation. Working for an organization with a focus upon research and provides practical support to sport organizations, is unique. It allowed me to experience a different aspect to a familiar  

    Additionally, the application process to this position required providing a writing piece, as effective communication skills are an important part of the role, along with the typical resumé and cover letter; another unique feature of this internship.  

    The most exciting aspect of this role in the CSC is that I am able to expand my knowledge in the sport industry and experience a different perspective. Already, I am registered for, or have completed, a number of training sessions that will give me the chance to develop competencies and grow as a professional as I prepare to enter the industry. Some of these sessions include media training, website accessibility, and entrepreneurship instruction. Additionally, I have already made many great connections in just the short time I’ve been here. With the CSC being apart of the Brock University community, you get to connect with members and staff that you may not otherwise have. It has already been great to speak and collaborate with numerous students, staff, and faculty on projects within the Centre. I’m thrilled to continue to make those connections in this role. 

    I hope in my time with the CSC I can help in growing their outreach as well as organizing some great programs and events for the Brock community and local sport organizations. Overall, I’m very excited for my internship with the Centre for Sport Capacity. 

    Categories: Blog, Students, Uncategorized

  • Caroline Hummell – A Municipality & Me: Reflecting on the Benefits of Community Research Collaborations

    Caroline is a first year Recreation and Leisure PhD student and member of the Centre of Sport Capacity at Brock University. This past summer, she was one of ten students selected to participate in the 2021 Summer Community Improvement Program with Community Researchers, an initiative that pairs Canadian university and college students with communities to conduct research projects. Read to learn about Caroline’s participation in the pilot launch of the program and key lessons learned from her experiences.


    Sport and recreation organizations and members of the academic community are beginning to see the reciprocal value in forming partnerships due to opportunities that involve increasing capacity to carry out research, gaining guidance on developing reports, and learning the best methods for communicating findings. As a graduate student within the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock University who recently partnered with a municipality on a research project to explore barriers to participation in youth sport and recreational programming, I can speak to the benefits of such a collaboration. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to present some key lessons learned and valuable skills improved because of my positive experiences with said partnership.

    From Research to Reflection: Lessons Learned

    In addition to the beneficial results gathered from the data, I learned a lot simply from the opportunity to collaborate with community stakeholders on a project. Below I share two key lessons learned from my experience in this collaborative community-research project.

    Lesson #1: Youth will share their thoughts- they just need an opportunity

    This project truly emphasized the importance of engaging youth in research and seeking their input. When given the opportunity, youth will provide candid and insightful feedback if the questions prioritize their perspectives. By considering youth’s perspectives and opinions, creating a relationship based on mutual respect, and assuring youth that their feedback will be taken seriously, they will be extremely open to answering your questions. It was incredible reading through every survey response and focus group transcripts and feeling how much the youth wanted to help to improve their municipality’s programming. As such, our job as researchers and community members is to take this feedback and inform key stakeholders (e.g., youth) that their perspectives are being considered when adapting and improving programming. In sum, this experience provided me with the assurance that we can ask youth tough questions, and they will answer them honestly and insightfully

    Lesson #2: Aim for your research to have impact in the real world

    Research can certainly have an impact in areas outside of the academic sphere, such as in business, government, or civil society. Through my experience with this project, I witnessed firsthand how research can positively affect a specific community in Ontario. The municipality’s stakeholders involved in the project were adamant about using the findings to inform the improvement of existing programs, but they also felt motivated to use the insight to take on new projects. For example, they are using the report and infographic I developed in a presentation for their city council to open discussion around the development of new initiatives for the youth within the municipality (e.g., skateboarding events and study group nights). Further, in our focus group, it was terrific witnessing the youth participants begin to brainstorm different responsibilities that they and their peers could take on to help enhance their municipality’s programming, such as assisting in the marketing of new programs and decorating the sport and recreation facilities to attract more youth. Seeing research findings applied practically indeed highlights its impact on community stakeholders. By stepping outside of my academic realm, I could apply my research skills to help a municipality that genuinely cares about its community members

    Improving my Skills as a Young Researcher

    In addition to the key learnings presented above, this project helped me reflect on specific professional and life skills I improved from this experience. These skills are discussed below.

    Clear and consistent communication. From the inception of this project, I made a poignant effort to keep municipality stakeholders “in the loop” every step of the way. Whether this was having an in-depth needs assessment meeting at project commencement to weekly check-in emails, I provided regular updates to my team to keep everyone informed of the project’s progress. In addition, I learned how to select what information was relevant to share and what information could be saved for the final report. Finally, I discovered the best methods for relaying different kinds of information by utilizing various forms of communication methods throughout the duration of this experience (i.e., virtual meetings, emails, and phone calls). As a result, I sharpened my overall communication skills significantly.

    Active listening. During meetings with the municipality team, it was important to ensure their needs were heard and respected. Therefore, before each meeting, I drafted an agenda to guide the conversation and left room for open discussion. I also prepared a list of questions and actively took notes when my team members responded. By being prepared for our meetings, it allowed me to improve my active listening skills as I was able to be fully present and engaged in the discussions from the start.

    Knowledge mobilization. Since I was working with municipal stakeholders and youth in the community, a primary objective was to produce a report that communicated the project results in a concise yet engaging manner. As such, I was able to use creative freedom to add colour and visuals to the final report. For example, when presenting the focus group results, I focused on limiting the amount of text included and emphasized key participant quotes instead. Furthermore, in addition to the main report, I created an infographic full of colour, numbers, and visuals to summarize the key findings in an easy-to-share, easy-to-understand document. These techniques tested my ability to identify key messages and contextualize knowledge products to specific stakeholder groups. As such, this project has allowed me to refine my knowledge mobilization skills.


    The Summer 2021 Community Improvement Research Program was an incredibly valuable experience. I learned essential lessons around engaging youth in research and building partnerships with community members. Through this experience, I was also able to improve professional skills related to communication, active listening, and knowledge mobilization. In sum, participation in the project, and the course overall, has contributed to my growth and development as a Brock University and Centre for Sport Capacity graduate student.

    Read the Completed Report Here

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • September Showcase – Dr. Kirsty Spence

    Our September Member showcase is… Associate Dean of Teaching and Undergraduate Studies at Brock University, Dr. Kirsty Spence

    This month we learned about Dr. Spence’s path to her current role, her favourite thing about being a part of the Brock Community and some future plans she’s looking forward to.


    My current role is the Associate Dean (AD) of Teaching and Undergraduate Studies for the Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAHS). I look at this position as encapsulating many of my strong interests, as through my work in this role, I focus on preserving the high quality of teaching across various programs within the five departments of the FAHS. As my home base is the Department of Sport Management, I continue to complete Sport Management research projects and teach SPMA students in addition to integrating many of my responsibilities while working in this administrative role.

    In my Undergrad years, I studied within the Bachelor of Kinesiology program at McMaster University and while there, I fell in love with the sport administration field, which was an earlier name for sport management. Through that early passion, I honed my interest in management and administration and upon graduation, I entered the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) program at the University of Toronto to become an elementary school teacher. After graduating, I taught for eight years, from 1991- 1999 in elementary schools in Canada, Russia and Taiwan. During that time, I also taught a variety of subjects and grades, from Kindergarten-aged children through to Grade 8 aged students. Aside from teaching, I volunteered a fair amount of time as a coach of many sports teams in these educational institutions. Those early years of my career certainly set the stage for a love of teaching and learning. In 1999, I returned from teaching in Taiwan, having decided to enrol in the Master of Human Kinetics (M.H.K.) program at the University of Windsor to deepen my studies in Sport Management. I have since seen the threads of teaching, management and leading through my sport management academic career in research, teaching and service activities. All of that has served to provide me with a rich career that started in the early 90s and allowed me to teach students from Kindergarten through to Ph.D. level contexts.

    My specific academic work in leadership development speaks to helping people develop their capacity as leaders, whether through research projects, teaching students as future industry leaders, or coaching organizational leaders. So, joining the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) was an easy decision for me. When I first came to Brock in 2004, the Canada Sport Policy had already been developed in 2002 around four pillars including enhanced participation, enhanced excellence, enhanced capacity, and enhanced interaction. When I thought about my research area of leadership development and then later, my work as a certified leadership coach with Integral Coaching Canada®, I wanted to work with sport leaders to help them enhance their developmental capacity, a value I felt was implicitly encompassed in Canada’s Sport Policy. I feel that this is largely what we’re working with here at the CSC, helping people in sport organizations increase their capacity so that more effective outcomes are possible for them and their organizations.


    I typically teach first year undergraduate students in SPMA 1P92 and graduate (M.A.) students in a Leadership and Organizational Behaviour course. For me, these two courses are bookended, as I get to see students experience both their first year in the undergraduate and then their first year in the M.A. program. What really excites me about teaching first-year students is at its simplest form, I can welcome and be a friendly face to students who are new to Brock University. When I think about teaching students representative of a large age spectrum as I have, I believe very similar qualities or principles of being an educator apply, regardless of students’ ages. Qualities such as trust and respect, as well as the educator’s actual love of teaching and learning are the same, regardless of age. What excites me the most is just the ability to be a part of that welcoming process in any way. I can be a piece of that greeting committee, to say, Hey, welcome to Brock! Welcome to sport management, you’re going to have a great experience here. I want to try to be as best as I can be so that students can be as best as they can be in starting the program. Beyond that first-year introduction, to see students’ growth through their journey in the program is monumentally exciting. I have very much enjoyed seeing students walk across the stage during graduation, it’s unbelievable to see how much they’ve developed as people and I am gratified knowing I was a part of that in a small way.

    Research Work/Projects:

    There are a couple of research projects happening, but one exciting research project is happening alongside Dr. Mike Van Bussel, also a CSC Member and an alumna of our Master’s program, Dina Bell-Laroche. We’re collaborating on a Canadian leadership development program for sport leaders, called the Sport Leaders Retreat, Virtual Edition; it’s a first of its kind in Canada. As the facilitator, Dina is a leader of leaders and we are tracking her leadership facilitation through the program and the impact of the leadership development program on both participants’ personal leadership and on their sport organizations. It’s really exciting to see somebody putting this kind of curriculum into action to help impact the development of Canadian sport leaders and their capacity. This project represents the work that I felt needs to be done within the sport management discipline. It’s really inspiring to me that we’ve come to a place in time where all conditions are right to make this project happen.


    • What’s your favourite TV Show right now?

    Well, I have to say, Ted Lasso. It’s an all-around awesome show, which is very funny and that in my opinion, demonstrates effective leadership and management in the context of a Premier League (European Football) sport organization. I enjoy seeing shows that have an organizational lean to them. I feel it’s an uplifting antidote to some of the darker news we are facing in today’s world.

    • What is your favourite sport or sports team?

    Do you have to even ask this? Of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs!!


    I’ve been fortunate to receive several awards focused on University teaching and learning. Most recently, I received the Brock University Distinguished Teaching Award in 2019, where I was recognized for teaching excellence and educational leadership within the Brock community. I also very recently received a Best Reviewer Award from the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada, for my work as a reviewer for conference abstracts. I mention this award as I was happy to know that my review efforts, which were in service to another person’s research work, were recognized as strong and helpful. We are fortunate as academics to engage in interesting work and receive recognition occasionally in various ways and I have appreciated being recognized for my work in the past.

    Future Plans/Desires:

    My future plans would include continuing my efforts to integrate areas of interests, for which I feel passion into my job, including equity, diversity, inclusion, leadership and human development interests. My desires are really centered upon serving other folks and helping them become better students, staff, or faculty, however they define “better.” That’s the great thing about working within the A.D. position, I can help serve other people and their development and I am happy to continue to be a part of that.

    Categories: Blog, Member Showcases, Uncategorized

  • Bobby Dhaliwal: 2021 Spring/Summer Digital Marketing & Research Assistant


    Bobby Dhaliwal is an incoming Sport Management graduate student at Brock University who gained a well-rounded sport industry experience through his hybrid role as Digital Marketing and Research Assistant at the Centre for Sport Capacity. Read to learn about Bobby’s thoughts after completing his role during the 2021 Spring/Summer term.

    As I was nearing the end of my sport management undergraduate journey at Brock University in spring, 2021, I was looking for a position that would provide me with an outlet to present my abilities in the sport marketing realm. I spent the past four summers gaining experience in diverse areas of the sport industry to enhance my skillset consistently over time. These roles included a combination of employed and voluntary positions such as Student Ambassador for the Toronto FC, Game Day Operations for Canada Basketball, the Guelph Nighthawks, and the Brampton Beast.

    As a dedicated student with a progressive mindset, I knew by my fourth year that I was capable of applying newfound concepts to positively impact an organization. The CSC provided an outlet for me to gain both digital marketing and research experience to best prepare me for my career aspirations. As I am starting my Masters at Brock this September, Dr. Michael Van Bussel and I agreed completing this role at the CSC would be a valuable part of my graduate studies.

    I will start by reflecting on the Digital Marketing and Communications aspect of my role. As someone who passionately analyzes consumer trends and the marketing execution by various sport organizations, the CSC provided an outlet to put my creative abilities into practice. Through the use of Adobe Illustrator and Canva, I had the privilege of creating all CSC promotional material over the past four months. The material consisted of social media graphics, video graphics, brochures, and unique post captions to maximize consumer engagement on all channels.

    Working for a research centre at a university made content creation more challenging as I had to maintain creativity while adhering to Brock University’s guidelines for online content. This forced me to brainstorm ideas more efficiently as a creative. I was able to implement new ideas such as video clips while ensuring colour codes, logo usage, fonts and text followed guidelines and portrayed the message our directors were looking for. Additionally, this process further developed my self-organization skills as I had to make sure to organize all draft and final version files in the appropriate team folders for all current and future members to access through OneDrive.

    The sport industry is a fast-paced environment that requires you to adapt quickly to be successful. During the preparation period for our Safe Sport Forum that was held from June 16-18th, consistent meetings were held to ensure the completion of all requirements ahead of time. Thus, I was not confined to a single role due to the diverse needs of the CSC. I found myself contributing to various areas of the Centre such as communications and data management to ensure success.

    For instance, I took on the task of searching and sorting all OUA teams’ Athletic Directory emails on Microsoft Excel to ensure an efficient rollout of our Safe Sport Forum communications. The inevitable cross-over tasks helped me build teamwork skills as I contributed to the roles of my co-workers when they needed assistance. However, this did not feel like additional work as the CSC does an excellent job of embracing all members of its team. Dr. Michael Van Bussel (Director) facilitated all team meetings by organizing a weekly agenda and highlighting specific areas to address with the names of contributors listed accordingly. This encouraged consistent engagement, allowing me to present new ideas and provide the team with updates on important tasks. Contributing to these meetings served as a major confidence boost for me as an up-and-coming professional. I was able to gain valuable perspective from our team while merging my own knowledge and research to consistently find new ways of development.

    The second part of my role came as a Research Assistant as part of a partnership between the CSC and Community Researchers. This process offered the greatest opportunity for growth in my professional development. After completing courses such as SPMA 3P07 (Quantitative Analysis) and SPMA 3P17 (Qualitative Analysis), it was time for me to apply my acquired knowledge as I aim to earn a Master’s degree in the near future. The CSC research project required the completion of a four-part training program that helped me complete a client a needs assessment, a research proposal, a survey, clean data, and create a final report for Parks and Recreation Ontario. Under the guidance of Michael Harker (Director at Community Researchers), I gained valuable exposure to Microsoft Excel as I worked tirelessly to identify the different types of data, clean data, create different types of charts, and implement the appropriate cross-tabs to maximize the effectiveness of the report. These are all applicable skills to many different areas of the sport industry as it continues to evolve.

    If you are a student looking to diversify your skillset under the guidance of very experienced professionals, you must consider an opportunity at the Centre for Sport Capacity. The Centre is able to offer a variety of experiential learning opportunities that can fit your needs whether if they are internship opportunities, volunteer opportunities, research opportunities, and more. Be sure to visit the CSC website for more information and submit an intake form here.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Ryan Hyndman: 2021 Spring & Summer Marketing, Communications, and Business Development Coordinator

    Ryan Hyndman is a fourth-year Sport Management student at Brock University, who took on the role of CSC Marketing, Communications, and Business Development Coordinator (Intern), as part of an experiential education credit. Read to learn Ryan’s thoughts after completing his Internship with the Centre for Sport Capacity.

    Are you a student looking to get involved and gain valuable experience? Look no further than the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC).

    I cannot believe that my time with the CSC is complete after the fastest four months of my life comes to a close! Doing this Sport Management internship with the CSC has certainly been a highlight throughout my time at Brock University. My experience with the Centre provided valuable exposure to many aspects of the sport industry, which allowed me to develop a wide variety of skills that will help me become a better sport manager throughout my career.

    In terms developing skills, communications was my most significant area of improvement. Under the guidance of Dr. Julie Stevens, Director and Cole McClean, Coordinator, I learned that being detail oriented when it comes to comms work is extremely important. Whether it is putting out a social media post or even just sending an email to someone for the first time, it is critical that the goal of what you are trying to say lands with the reader. Essentially, you need to write so that others pay attention, and I developed this ability from my time with the CSC.

    Much of my communications work was the result of being the hands-on lead for social media throughout the summer. I created a comprehensive social media schedule that would house all the information needed for a post until it was ready to be posted. I was responsible for the creation and distribution of more than 50 posts over two social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn). This contributed to the CSC growing to 455 combined, social media followers and gaining more than 120,000 social media impressions since August 2020.

    I contributed to almost all aspects of the CSC in my tasks this summer and it made me a more well-rounded professional. Having the exposure to a wide variety of tasks not only allowed me to develop many new skills, but also allowed me to discover what areas I enjoy and might want to pursue as a career. I learned that data collection and analysis tasks exist in the sport industry and are something that I enjoy. Being able to locate, analyze, and organize information and data using the appropriate technology helped me discover that tasks related to that skill may be a job I want to pursue.

    For data management, two experiences influenced my attraction to these tasks. First, I conducted an extensive CSC metrics tracking initiative where I gathered data on many different aspects of growth within the Centre. For example, social media metrics such as followers, likes, shares/retweets, impressions and engagements were all compiled. Alternatively, I also worked on an industry research project for Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO). Through the CSC’s partnership with Community Researchers, I participated in a four-part research training program. In these sessions I learned how to interact with a client, create an effective survey, analyze the data using spreadsheets, and present the data in report form. These projects were some of my favourite responsibilities this summer and directly contributed to the development of hard skills in the area of data management.

    Students may believe that an Internship within Brock may not provide as much exposure into the industry as other organizations, but that was not the case. I was introduced to many industry professionals with plenty of different backgrounds. Being able to pick their brains on their expertise helped immensely when working through tasks. The combination of exposure to professors and professionals shaped me with a multidimensional perspective of the of the sport industry, which will make me a unique job candidate.

    My advice for students is, if you have the opportunity to get involved with the CSC, jump at the experience and continue to develop an extensive network of professionals that have a vast range of industry knowledge. Specifically, marketing and communications are functional areas where the CSC provides massive opportunity to take the next step in terms of skill development. The best times I’ve had in both high school and university are when I participated in extracurriculars and opportunities such as this position. It is important to take advantage of an experience like this when it is available because I genuinely feel as though I have a competitive advantage over my peers with what I have gained by working with the CSC.

    If you are interested in connecting with the CSC, visit the CSC website for any placement/volunteer positions or directly reach out by submitting an intake form. A CSC team member will be happy to follow up with you.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • August Member Showcase: Sarah Ane

    Our August Member Showcase is…Associate Director of Recreation and Culture at the Town of Lincoln, Sarah Ane!

    We learned more about Sarah’s background, her past teaching, a recent research project, and some of her personal interests/hobbies.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to specialize in your specific line of work? Can you tell us why you wanted to join the Centre for Sport Capacity and what you’ve gotten out of being part of the Centre so far?

    I have worked in the parks and recreation sector for the majority of my professional career for various municipalities. I completed my studies in Sport and Business Management and early on I was fortunate to have experiences working for a variety of sport organizations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Through these experiences I learned the importance of sport development at the community level. If we don’t support sport at this level, we don’t produce future Olympians, professional athletes or promote sport for life. This fueled my desire to work in local government to focus on creating supportive environments, facilities and policies for sport development and encouraging lifelong participation.

    Can you speak about a class (or classes) that you are teaching this semester/a class you taught previously/one that you will be teaching soon? What about this class/these classes excites you? Is this a new class that you are/will be teaching? Or a class that you’ve taught in the past?

    Previously, I’ve taught at Niagara College in the Recreation and Leisure Studies program about the Role of Government. I find this subject matter very exciting as often students do not understand the vital role that local government plays in shaping many of the everyday programs and services we benefit from in the communities we live. I have also taught courses on community development approaches to recreation planning.

    Can you speak about any recent, current, or future research projects that you’re excited about? What inspired you to want to get involved in your topic of research? Was this research work partnered with a community partner in the sports industry or any other industry?

    Most recently, I was fortunate to collaborate with Brock faculty through the Centre for Sport Capacity and Niagara Community Observatory to develop a policy brief that examined the critical and essential role of parks and recreation services during the pandemic.

    The policy brief illustrates the value of the parks and recreation sector to Niagara residents during the pandemic and includes discussion and recommendations of how the sector can move forward post-pandemic, using a health equity lens to ensure parks and recreation services remain at the forefront of future regional and municipal policy discussions.

    What’s your favourite TV show right now?

    I don’t watch a lot of TV on a regular basis – mostly news and sports. However, I have been known to binge on a Netflix series periodically. I also love a good docuseries.

    What are your current hobbies/interests?

    One of things I enjoy the most is supporting my 7-year-old son in his sport and recreation pursuits. I’ve quickly become the loudest, overzealous, cheering parent in the stands or on the field. There is nothing I enjoy more than watching him try his hardest and watching him cheer on and encourage his teammates.

    What’s your favourite book?

    My favourtie genre of books to read are biographies. Some favourites I’ve read over the years that are specific to sport that I’ve really enjoyed have been “Open” by Andre Agassi, “Mamba Mentality” by Kobe Bryant and “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. Most recently, I read “Crossroads” which was written by Kaleb Dahlgren, a survivor of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.

    What’s your favourite sport or sports team?

    In terms of professional sport, I am a loyal Ottawa Senators fan. Not only are they my hometown team, I was fortunate to work for the organization during the season they made it to the Stanley Cup finals against Anaheim. Although they didn’t win, I learned a lot from the experience about the importance of working in a supportive corporate culture and how much I valued that moving forward in my career.

    There is nothing I enjoy more than watching amateur sport competitions! I am a huge fan of all things Olympic Movement. I was honoured to be one of 12,000 torchbearers for the 2010 Winter Olympics as the torch made its way from Olympia, Greece to Vancouver, B.C.

    Categories: Blog, Member Showcases

  • July Member Showcase: Dr. Laura Cousens


    Our July Member Showcase is…Associate Professor in the Department of Sport Management at Brock University, Dr. Laura Cousens!

    We learned more about Dr. Cousens’ research background, what she enjoys about teaching, some of her research projects, and some of her personal interests/hobbies.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to specialize in your specific line of work? Can you tell us why you wanted to join the Centre for Sport Capacity and what you’ve gotten out of being part of the Centre so far?

    When I first started, I looked at professional sport and I actually put the SPMA Pro Sport course on the books because I felt it was essential with so many of our students looking to get into pro sport to understand more than just the box scores. My thesis and my PhD were all done on pro sport but when Sport Canada introduced the Sport Canada Research Initiative Grant in 2007, to encourage professors to do research on sport participation, I submitted an application, and we were awarded a grant in the very first year. I had published some articles on network analysis in the past, so what we decided to do was use a network perspective to look at community sport organizations. One of the things I am most proud of is, we did a panel discussion for NAASM expecting no one to show up presenting this data, and the room was full with only standing-room space left for attendees. From here, we decided to do a special issue on community sport because there was clearly a lot of interest and we wanted to get the research out in the public. When I went on sabbatical, we began this special issue for the Journal of Sport Management and expected to get 20-25 submissions and received over 70. Only being able to include eight in the special issue, the rest were to be published in subsequent issues of the Journal of Sport Management. For a couple years, I really focused on getting all of this data out into the public, until the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver. When I attended, I heard there was 40-50 of our students in volunteer roles at the games, so I took some time to go out and visit them and thought that there are so many jobs in major games, there should be a course for it. So, I created the Major Games course for the Sport Management department. It is an experiential course where students are put in roles within major games and the one thing that I realized is that students do amazing work when they are put in these roles. I also teach the strategic alliances course, which is how I have tied in my networks research with my teaching. This was, at the time, one of the only courses in North America dealing with inter-organizational relationships and there was no publications in sport speaking to this. To ensure students had material within sport for this course I did another special issue for the International Journal of Sport Management on my next sabbatical. We still use these articles to this day, and they are fantastic for the students. A number of years ago now, I partnered with Right to Play to create the SPMA 3P93 Sport for Development course and as much as it is a lecture-based course, it really is experiential because the students are learning through play. In the Sport for Development field course, we have gone to Turks and Caicos and hope to go to the Barbados in the future to work on sport for development projects and provide a sustainable development commitment to the people there.

    The Centre for Sport Capacity to me is an opportunity for professional collaboration and it provides opportunities for its members to undertake projects and consulting that benefit our research, teaching and the students without being under academia. The CSC also allows the opportunity to be entrepreneurial with applying for grants and cultivating partnerships. The Centre is absolutely vital to providing this avenue to professors to work on projects which can involve individuals from all across campus. The CSC is like a “think tank”, being able to bring different ideas together from many different perspectives and disciplines

    Can you speak about a class (or classes) that you are teaching this semester/a class you taught previously/one that you will be teaching soon? What about this class/these classes excites you? Is this a new class that you are/will be teaching? Or a class that you’ve taught in the past?

    I’ve taught virtually everything in the sport management department and the course that is the biggest eye opener for students has got to be Sport for Development. So many students that come into our program don’t think about it and they say it is a game changer for them and that they see sport through a lens that will really help people. For the students that want to work in pro sport, we look at a lot of pro sport foundations and how you can blend sport for development and pro sport together. These foundations invest in community sport programs which is very near and dear to my heart and is exactly what these trips to Turks and Caicos and Barbados are doing. If you ask me for a second one, it would be Major Games because it has impacted so many students lives.

    Can you speak about any recent, current, or future research projects that you’re excited about? What inspired you to want to get involved in your topic of research? Was this research work partnered with a community partner in the sports industry or any other industry?

    In COVID you’re able to participate in all these meeting with people all around the world, so when I was on a call with a lot of people, I put in the chat if anyone knew of any Sport for Development programs in the Caribbean. I heard back about this award-winning program in Barbados that was started by a professor who was also on the Barbados Olympic Committee. The issue we were dealing with in the Turks and Caicos was the high dropout rate and the UN did a study and found that only 60-70% of kids in school there graduate. So what were were doing was working with the schools to improve that statistic through the power of sport, workshops, and presentations to get the kids to stay in school. So this program in the Barbados sets kids up with an internship in their last year of school in something they are interested in, and this has resulted in a near 100% graduation rate. The idea is to get kids out of the classroom to motivate what could be out there for them and inform their worldview. They also learn organizational skills and marketing skills from planning sports events and that is how sport is used to teach some of these hard skills that are then used in their jobs. That is what my research is focused on right now, because this is a model that could be used all around the Caribbean. The idea is that publishing this research will expand the impact of that work going on down there.

    What’s your favourite TV show right now?

    Game of Thrones would be my pick right now.

    What are your current hobbies/interests?

    Competitive equestrian, play tennis, distance swimming, spending time with my two kids and my family.

    What’s your favourite book?

    Murder mystery novels and suspense crime, Jo Nesbo is one of my favourite authors. I also love biographies because digging into the life of someone is so fascinating.

    What’s your favourite sport or sports team?

    We are a Raptors family and have a Raptors den with flags, banners, sweaters, and it’s all “kidded out”. I also love the Olympics and being able to watch all these different sports like Rugby and so many others. My favourite sports to participate in are Riding, tennis, swimming.

    Now’s your time to talk yourself up! You can talk about awards you’ve won, certifications you have, professional affiliations, personal achievements…anything your heart desires!

    I would say that the two special issues I authored were very special to me because they were very impactful in our field of sport management and I was the first person to publish an article on networks in our discipline. I have also won some awards for volunteering outside of Brock. I won the Ontario Bronze medal for volunteering for work I did with the Kidney Foundation where we created an event that has probably raised over $250,000 now. I am very proud of that work as many professors are focused on their publications, but for me its all about can I make an impact on a student’s life. Creating new courses like Sport for Development, Pro Sport, and Major Games and taking kids overseas have been some of my best memories. For me it’s fabulous to see the students have these personal growth opportunities while also providing a sustainable development commitment to others.

    Categories: Blog, Member Showcases

  • June Member Showcase: Cole McClean

    Our June Member Showcase is…Coordinator of the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) at Brock University, Cole McClean!

    We learned more about Cole’s path to the CSC, what he enjoys about his role, some of his research interests, and some of his personal interests/hobbies.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to specialize in your specific line of work? Can you tell us why you wanted to join the Centre for Sport Capacity and what you’ve gotten out of being part of the Centre so far?

    I was in a unique position when I took on the role as the coordinator of the CSC. I had just finished up my M.A. (Sport Management) here at Brock working with current member Dr. Shannon Kerwin. Upon completion of my degree, I was weighing next steps and decided to take on some Research Assistant (RA) roles to fill the unemployment void, as well as a chance to explore new areas and learn new skills. I knew I enjoyed research and wanted to explore a related role in the industry, rather than pursue a PhD right away. One of those RA roles was with a multi-department Experiential Education project at Brock with Dr. Julie Stevens and a few other Brock members. I actually hadn’t worked with Julie in my time at Brock, but after working with her on a couple of projects, the CSC Coordinator role opened up, it seemed like a great fit.

    As for what I’ve gotten out of my first couple of years with the CSC, there is too much to cover in one post. The first aspect that stands out are the meetings with community partners. I learn a lot from each group or individual we meet with and the process of understanding their needs as well as figuring out how to support them is rewarding.

    The other part is student engagement – over the past few years I feel the CSC has done a good job of providing students across various departments at Brock with valuable practical experience. We’ve really carved out some consistent roles as well so we’re always trying to offer students experiential education opportunities.

    Can you speak about any recent, current, or future research projects that you’re excited about? What inspired you to want to get involved in your topic of research? Was this research work partnered with a community partner in the sports industry or any other industry?

    There are a lot of projects that I am excited about in the Centre and I almost feel bad choosing only one. If I had to choose one at the moment though, it would be the 2020 U16 European Cup – Girls Hockey Participation project involving a number of national hockey federations. The purpose is to understand the issues girls playing the sport face and resulting high drop-out. In turn, the goal is to develop resources and support initiatives aimed at reducing barriers faced across particular age groups. This project is notable to me as it was the first major project I was involved in as the coordinator (Winter 2019), and while COVID-19 halted the project, progress is being made again.

    What’s your favourite TV show right now?

    It takes me a while to get through shows, but Billions is currently major one I’m working on. I also recently finished the Expanse, which I highly recommend as it filled the hole that Games of Thrones ending, left.

    What are your current hobbies/interests? (maybe something you picked up since we’ve all been staying home!)

    My healthy hobby that really got me through winter was daily walks to get away from screens and take my mind of things with a podcast or music. I never thought I’d be a person that could go for walks so often, but with the lockdowns the walks became

    To try and make weekends a bit more exciting, I usually attempt a new, interesting recipe that I’ve never done before. It’s been rewarding trying dishes that I honestly never thought I’d make myself.

    What’s your favourite book? (recently, or your all-time favourite)

    Recently, Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land as I’ve followed politics to some degree, but learning what actually goes on behind the scenes and the toll it takes is really interesting.

    What’s your favourite sport or sports team?

    If I were to pick one, it would have to be the Toronto Raptors. I love the sport and everything the organization has come to stand for. I also enjoy reading about Masai Ujiri as a leader, how he approaches his role, and the great things he’s done for the culture of the organization.

    Categories: Blog, Member Showcases

  • Interview with Peter Donnelly – Athletes First: The Promotion of Safe Sport in Canada

    We sat down (virtually) with Dr. Peter Donnelly, from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, to chat about his participation in the forum, “Athletes First: The Promotion of Safe Sport in Canada,” that will be held on June 16, 17, and 18 on Microsoft Teams. Dr. Donnelly will be speaking on the Governance panel on the second day of the event.

    In our interview, we had a chance to speak with Dr. Donnelly about what safe sport means to him, as well as what attendees will gain from attending the virtual forum.

    What does Safe Sport mean to you?

    Safe Sport is increasingly coming to be used as the collective term used to refer to sport where athletes are not subject to physical, psychological or sexual abuse, and where they are not bullied or neglected. To me, it means bringing humanity back into sport — building a sport culture where athletes and sport leaders are fellow human beings, respecting each other’s human rights, and where adults in charge of children’s sport acknowledge and take seriously their duty of care for those children.

    How are you involved in Safe Sport?

    A colleague at Queen’s University, Hart Cantelon, used the term “child labour in sport” in 1981 and it stuck with me. I began to hear more and more stories about children as athletic labourers and about child abuse in sport. In about 1987 I began to study this seriously, interviewing retired high performance athletes about their past experiences as child and adolescent athletes. I called the study, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” so you can imagine the kind of things that I was hearing in the interviews. Since that time, I have been seeking various ways to try to improve the experiences of children in sport.

    Why should someone attend this forum?

    Anyone interested in helping to change sport, especially high performance sport, from a culture of abuse to a culture of respect, might be interested in this forum.

    Categories: Blog, Webinars/Forums

  • May Member Showcase: Dr. Pat Reid

    Our May Member Showcase is…Associate Professor with the Department of Sport Management at Brock University, Dr. Pat Reid!

    We learned more about Dr. Reid’s areas of academic interest, Sport Management courses that he has taught, a research project on the 1972 summer Olympic Games in Munich, and some of his personal interests/hobbies.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to specialize in your specific line of work? Can you tell us why you wanted to join the Centre for Sport Capacity and what you’ve gotten out of being part of the Centre so far?

    Over 40 years of management positions in various sport industry capacities. This included 17 years as a sport consultant with Sport Canada; vice-president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association before it morphed into Hockey Canada; director general of the Sport Medicine & Science Council of Canada; director of marketing with Natation Swimming Canada; director of sponsorship for Corel Corporation; director general of back-to-back Ontario Summer Games (Ottawa); executive director of the combative sports commission in Edmonton, during which time I picked up a Ph.D. in sport management at the University of Alberta. I then applied for, and was hired, by Brock University to teach sport management courses.

    Can you speak about a class (or classes) that you are teaching this semester/a class you taught previously/one that you will be teaching soon? What about this class/these classes excites you? Is this a new class that you are/will be teaching? Or a class that you’ve taught in the past?

    One of the strengths I bring to the department and the CSC is about 40-years of “hands on” management experience in sport. It makes for richer dialogue and student understanding. Industry experience provides you with applied knowledge such that you can successfully teach a myriad of subjects. Teaching out of a textbook without industry experience limits the value of the information, in part because the available texts are grossly slanted toward the USA market. Lecturing from the perspective of lived experience allows students to better appreciate what management in sport in Canada is really all about – both the good and the bad. With the electronic world we live in today, students already have access to written material about theory while actual industry experience is a sought after added value. I have taught courses in organizational behavior, sport policy, critical issues in managing sports events, ethics in sport, the business of hockey, the internship program, etc. It is not the course material I enjoy, it is communicating with the curious student, the high work ethic student that is really attractive for me.

    The Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) is an interesting initiative by Dr. Julie Stevens (also a U. of Alberta grad). I like the concept and was asked by Julie (and Cole McLean) to join the CSC. The CSC is a work in progress with some blue-chip members willing to work in cooperation and collaboration with each other. I hope I can make a contribution as well.

    Can you speak about any recent, current, or future research projects that you’re excited about? What inspired you to want to get involved in your topic of research? Was this research work partnered with a community partner in the sports industry or any other industry?

    I have always had an interest in research stemming from curiosity at a young age. I have published more than 25 articles in sport technical journals before writing 6 academic articles and was involved with two book chapters. I am pleased to be the first SPMA professor to

    present papers at the Academy of Management (AOM) and the European Group of Organizational Studies (EGOS). Currently, my latest research is a historical piece on the 1972 summer Olympic Games in Munich where the PLO killed the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches. It was my first attended Olympic Games and I collected the available German newspapers each day and kept them in a scrapbook. It sat on a shelf for years. Just recently I had the articles translated into English. These newspaper articles are no longer available at source, so my collection is a rich secondary data set. I am in the process of interviewing a number of Canadian athletes, media, and officials who were in Munich, to obtain primary data. I want to publish a paper next year, the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, from a Canadian participatory perspective.

    I have a number of other research initiatives that bode well for collaboration with other CSC members. It just takes time to prioritize and follow through.

    Are you involved in any clubs/associations?

    As a senior age wise, I now value my time more than ever, so I am only volunteering to CSC because I fully endorse and support what Julie Stevens is attempting to do with CSC.

    What’s your favourite TV show right now?

    The Good Doctor & Blue Bloods.

    Best Netflix series?

    The Queen’s Gambit; Jack Ryan; Longmire; Shetland, Ozark, Justified.

    What are your current hobbies/interests?

    (maybe something you picked up since we’ve all been staying home!) Learning to play guitar, studying Aboriginal sport history.

    What’s your favourite book?

    I have a home library of over 75 sports books that expands regularly! Every book read or re-read can spark your curiosity and new ideas.

    What’s your favourite sport or sports team?

    From my coaching background and time spent with marketing guru Mark McCormack, I developed a preference to focus my time observing “individual talent” even in team sports like hockey: Connor McDavid, Marc-Andre Fleury, Alexsandr Ovechkin, Connor Hellebuyck, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, etc., rather than rallying behind one specific team. It allows for a wider appreciation of every game, of every sport.

    Now’s your time to talk yourself up! You can talk about awards you’ve won, certifications you have, professional affiliations, personal achievements…anything your heart desires!


    I’ve received numerous “awards and accolades”. To date the two most significant would be receiving the University of Waterloo Alumni Achievement Award, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and being inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. In terms of “rewards”, I love and cherish my daughter Taylar and son Brett, and I am blessed with my life with Joanne, my wife. At a distant second (and materialistic) level, I am happy to have my three rings representing three IIHF world hockey championships, and my Olympic ring for being a head coach.

    Future Desires

    I’ve been involved with the 4F01/4F02 internship course each year and I have read the students self-reflection papers at the end of each term. Fourth-year students dislike working 450 hours for free. It is time for the program to take the next step and require employers to pay “something”, even $500/month, for students placed with their organization. I wish I had the time to contribute to taking this program to the next level.

    In addition, I would like to write a non-fiction book or two. Academically, we need more Canadian focused and Canadian relevant texts in sport marketing, sponsorship, management, etc. This brings me back to the necessity of the added value of professors having industry experience and imparting realistic knowledge of the management of sport in Canada to students preparing to work and succeed in the industry. It would be nice to partner with a few key colleagues and industry partners to create such texts. That is a significant benefit of the Centre of Sport Capacity.

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    Categories: Blog, Member Showcases