Students

  • Ryan Hyndman – The Importance of Data Management and Information Literacy Skills

    Do you want to learn hard skills that could provide a comfortable lifestyle and a productive attitude? My experience with data management and information literacy throughout my independent study has not only been a complete culmination of my studies at Brock, but it has also taught me practical skills. I was able to learn hard skills such as spreadsheet analysis with crosstabs and gain knowledge of industry standards for economic impact assessments from both professionals in the field and academic supervisors. I found developing these skills to be rewarding in the short-term while also providing a financially comfortable path for the future. This combination of exposure has led me to a newfound confidence to join the work force and pursue what I am passionate about.

    Hello! My name is Ryan Hyndman, and I am currently a fourth-year Sport Management student with a minor in Economics here at Brock University! During my last term here at Brock, I had the opportunity to conduct an independent study (SPMA 4P99) under the supervision of Dr. Julie Stevens. A major component of this individual study revolved around a research project in partnership with non-profit organization, Community Researchers (CR).

    The Centre has a Memorandum of Understanding with CR where students work on projects to support sport and recreation organizations. CR pairs student researchers with organizations who are looking to have a complementary research study done. Because of my love of sports and my involvement with the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC), I was paired with non-profit organization, Play On! Canada.

    Play On! Canada organizes and stages large-scale street hockey tournaments across Canada and claim to be the largest experiential sports festival in Canadian history. To back this up, they hold the world record for the largest street hockey tournament in terms of participants! My first step was to meet with Play On! and determine what they wanted to have studied about their organization with a needs assessment meeting.

    Once, this was completed we came out of the meeting with three objectives for this study: Quantify the economic impact of their events, quantify the social impact of their events, and determine if there is interest in an attendee online portal. From there I worked with the partners to create a survey that effectively asked questions about these three topics. Dr. Stevens provided great guidance here as she helped with the structure of questions, wording of answers, and introduced me to resources that made the survey writing process much smoother.

    When the survey was released to the public, it was open for 10 days and closed with over 600 responses! Now came the hard work. I mapped my analysis and the relationships I wanted to examine. This was an important step because with such a long project, it was crucial to have a plan to stay on track and make sure deadlines were met. In addition to the objective questions, we also asked demographics-based questions of respondents. This gave me a baseline to conduct analysis and develop crosstabs to demonstrate the relationship between two or more variables. For example, when asking attendees what their interest level was in an online portal, I was able to dissect the data and report the demographics for the various answers (i.e., 20% of respondents that answered “significant interest” in an online portal identified as a woman).

    The economic impact section was a little more difficult. Play On! was interested in studying how much additional spending was brought to communities because of their events. For this, I sat down with Michael Harker, Executive Director of CR, to develop a plan of how to report this. Next, we gathered feedback from Play On! and I gathered feedback from Dr. Stevens on how to move forward.

    It was from here that Mr. Harker introduced me to the Province of Ontario’s Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM). TRIEM is a program that generates economic impact information such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), jobs created, and taxes generated based on detailed visitor spending data. Because we had asked spending related questions, we had this information and were able to generate these values for an average Play On! event.

    Specifically, this part of the project was interesting to me because having a minor in economics, this was one of the first times I was able to combine the knowledge I was able to learn from my Economics courses and combine it with the knowledge I had gained from Sport Management courses!

    Mr. Harker throughout the process repeated to me that some of the work I had been doing for this report, some organizations would pay thousands of dollars to have done. Upon some basic research, I found this to be true as Americans for the Arts, a non-profit arts advocacy organization, begins their prices for customized economic impact assessments at $3,500 USD. So, not only was I working on a project that combined my two academic interests, but this project also taught me data management and information literacy hard skills that could one day lead to a good paying job.

    Building spreadsheets, analyzing data, writing reports, does not sound like interesting work, and I’ll be the first one to admit that, but there is something about the whole process that feels very rewarding. From watching the responses come in one by one, to making charts, to identifying relationships, there is a sense of completion and productiveness that made me feel like an industry professional. I still have a long way to go to get to that point, but I feel that this project and the skills I learned throughout the process helped effectively prepare myself for careers that I hope to pursue.

    If I could leave one piece of advice for students moving forward, it is to seek opportunities to gain exposure to elements of an industry that you are passionate about and pursue them. Plain and simple, without this independent study, my data management and information literacy skills would not be as developed as they are today. Learning how to use TREIM and practicing crosstabs are just a couple of the many practical skills I used, and I can say without a doubt, this experience has opened the door for me to be able to develop applicable capabilities to bring value to potential employers. Although I hope to apply this experience to the sports industry, these skills are highly transferable to almost all industries and I highly recommend that anyone looking to gain a competitive advantage expose themselves to similar professional development opportunities!

    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. A CSC team member will be happy to follow up with you.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Tess Armstrong – Reflections on being a Community Researcher

    Tess is a first year Recreation and Leisure master’s student and a varsity rugby player. Having graduated from Concordia University last year, she is continuing both her academic and athletic endeavors at Brock University. Read to learn about Tess’s experience conducting community-based research this past summer

    Introduction

    Upon starting graduate studies within the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock University, I was presented with the opportunity to work with a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the mental health of Canada’s post-secondary student-athletes.  As a student-athlete and a novice researcher, contributing to the partnership between the Brock Centre for Sport Capacity, Community Researchers, and the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) was a fantastic learning experience. The project examined the experience of mental health professionals working with varsity athletes with the goal of understanding the facilitators and barriers to implementing this role, as well as the outcomes – specifically looking at how student athletes have benefitted from this support. Within this blog, I reflect on the lessons learned and challenges encountered throughout this project. Admittedly, most of the learning came out of the challenges. Constantly reflecting and taking action to overcome these challenges, resulted in some personal, professional, and academic skill-development which I detail below.

    Reflexivity in Practice

    First and foremost, my positionality as both a student-athlete and novice researcher were important to acknowledge throughout the research process. Such a position helped me to develop a connection to the community organization, SAMHI , informed the interview guide I created, assisted in guiding the conversations, and connecting with and establishing context for the mental health professionals.

    Having spent a significant amount of time within varsity spheres at two post-secondary institutions over the past 5 years, I can relate to the context of the research and understand its significance. More specifically, I have seen athletes undergo mental health crises and suffer due to a lack of support in place. While my prior knowledge and personal experience shaped the beginning stages of the project, I had to take a step back during the data analysis and acknowledge any preconceived ideas about what the results should look like. Though my own subjectivity is likely impossible to erase from this project, I practiced reflexivity by actively listening to the voices of the professionals, by utilizing some conventional research strategies. While developing the methodology for this project, I advocated for the recording and transcribing of interviews as it provided the opportunity to stay close to the data, return to the source of the information whenever necessary, iteratively analyze the data, and showcase the participants’ direct insights and lived experiences through emerging themes and quotations. Maintaining my identity as the researcher and refraining from making assumptions based on my own personal experiences was challenging, but necessary. Taking the time to practice reflexivity and acknowledge my positionality will help me in future research I conduct.

    Redefining Success

    When considering varsity athletics, wins and losses are the predominant measures to define success. While putting such emphasis on these performance-based measures, academic institutions can sometimes neglect the less measurable implications of competitive sport participation, such as student-athlete mental health. Further, student athletes wear many hats, including being a role model and a representative of their school, community, and sport. Such expectations can result in an insurmountable level of pressure, having significant consequences on their wellbeing (USports, 2020). To best support athletes, we must expand the scope of success, including being able to provide a positive experience for student-athletes, helping student-athletes to graduate with transferable life skills, and building their capacity to cope with stress.

    Optimizing this redefined version of success in varsity spaces requires a commitment to listen to all stakeholders; athletes themselves, and those that work with athletes. This project sought out the voices of mental health professionals to help determine the barriers and facilitators to their work. The expertise of these professionals helped to provide insight into the daily lives of varsity athletes, the struggles they encounter, and how to best support them. Interviews aided in developing recommendations for mental health support in varsity spheres – finding the balance between what is ideal and what is realistic.

    What the position entails varies across Canadian post-secondary institutions, their responsibilities possibly including but not limited to the following: 1-on-1 counselling services, mental performance coaching, facilitating workshops, conducting research, etc. This role is limited to being occupied by one individual who coordinates a multitude of services.

    Success might look like these services being available in every college and university across Canada.

    Maintaining Momentum

    Conducting a research project remotely was challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic has required people to be flexible with their work schedules, and to commit to an online presence to stay connected. As someone who enjoys face-to-face interaction and is most engaged with what is right in front of them, losing momentum was a significant challenge throughout this project; almost stopping in front of the hurdles as opposed to jumping over them. Consequently, internet problems, email delays, missed messages, and all other issues that arose virtually had a greater impact on the efficiency of work. Sometimes, email communications that I did not immediately address became forgotten, and the entire process slowed down. Awaiting responses from stakeholders was immobilizing. Thus, staying motivated and invested became more and more challenging. Reflecting on what I could have done differently to maintain momentum throughout the project; I would have made a more conscious effort to maintain constant communication (even if just a weekly check-in) – setting the standard for myself and stakeholders from the get-go.

    In losing momentum, it became easy to get caught up in comparing myself to my peers in the placement, who were collecting hundreds of survey responses. Interviewing less than five participants sometimes felt inadequate. The time constraint for participant recruitment was something I struggled with – having a short window, two to four weeks, to find, reach out, and interview participants. Those who were working in academic spaces were often away from their desks this summer, taking time off – meaning it was hard to get in touch with the ideal participant. In future projects, I would take a more fluid approach, by not waiting to collect all the data, and conduct all the interviews, to begin the process of analysis.

    Additionally, the loss of momentum carried over into when I analyzed the data. Transcribing and analyzing the interview recordings felt daunting. I became wrapped up in trying to find the answers right away, trying to make sense of the data by identifying one truth or reality. Completing the project required a shift in my mindset, an acknowledgement the process is as significant as the outcome, and that there are no “right answers” in qualitative research.  There is value in listening to the voices of those with lived experience. Being able to understand, communicate, and mobilize the knowledge being gained through in-depth interviews can only be achieved patiently, one step at a time. 

    Filling the Toolbox 

    Through engaging in this project, I acquired a wide variety of tools that will impact how I conduct my research in the future and how I manage projects. Below are some of these skills I developed and/or improved during the project.

    • Building confidence in conducting interviews
      • Creating space for the participants to speak freely
      • Learning how to guide the conversation and be adaptable
      • Navigating imposter syndrome and self-doubt (who am I to be talking to these professionals? What if I am messing this up?)
    • Expanding my online abilities 
      • Becoming comfortable with different video call platforms
      • Using different virtual resources to facilitate transcription
      • Getting creative in the process of data analysis (using Google Forms to sort and categorize raw data)
    • Representing knowledge visually
      • Exploring Canva
      • Practicing using graphics and images effectively
      • Presenting findings on PDF slides

    With each opportunity and experience, I can add to my “toolbox”. Moving forward, these skills will be useful in my academic life. Diversifying my online abilities and improving my ability to express project findings visually and virtually is important moving into this post-pandemic world, where hybrid teaching and learning is the new normal. Having gained confidence in conducting interviews will be key when approaching future qualitative research projects.

    Conclusion

    While at times hard, what motivated me throughout the research project was the notion that lived-experience and professional expertise can be used to directly influence action within community-based organizations. The collaboration between SAMHI, Community Researchers the Brock Centre for Sport Capacity will hopefully help build a case for the role of a varsity mental health coordinator and continue to advocate for more effective mental health services for student athletes, by mobilizing the knowledge gained through the project.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Bailey Burke – 2021 Events, Marketing & Communications Assistant Intern

    Bailey Burke is a fourth-year Business Communication student at Brock University. This school year, she is the Events, Marketing and Communications Assistant (intern) with the Centre for Sport Capacity.

    Hello! My name is Bailey Burke and I am a fourth-year Business Communication student here at Brock University. I have just started my experiential learning placement with the CSC. I am thrilled to be a part of this team for the next 8 months to gain experience in a field I am hoping to pursue after graduation. As a student with a growing interest in marketing and communications, I am glad to have been brought on as an Events, Marketing, and Communications assistant (intern) for the remainder of my final year.

    During my time at Brock, I have had the opportunity to learn many theories and skills throughout my courses. From improving my understanding of communication from an academic standpoint, I have also been able to develop transferable skills that I will be able to take with me into the workforce. Being part of the experiential learning course has given me a chance to apply the skills I have learned and put them into practice. That is the main reason that the experiential learning program caught my attention. Upon acceptance, I was able to go through a list of potential placement opportunities. The position at the CSC immediately sparked my interest. 

    My attention was grabbed for numerous reasons. First, the position itself aligned with exactly what I was hoping to pursue through this experience. Being able to strengthen my skills in multiple areas, such as marketing through content creation, improving my communication skills by coordinating and connecting with people, and assisting in planning events that the CSC is contributing to. Furthermore, the application process required an interview on top of the resume and cover letter submission. This was unique to the CSC as most other options did not go to such lengths. By participating in the interview it became clear to me that the members of the CSC are dedicated to students gaining as much knowledge and experience as possible during their placement. When picking a placement, it was important to me to know that I would be trusted with certain responsibilities and tasks that would allow me to further develop my current strengths and learn new skills in the process. Another fundamental component that made me realize the CSC was right for me was the team aspect. Being able to work in a team setting is a new experience for me and one that I was eager to be a part of.  As a student, I have not had an opportunity to work with a team in a professional setting and am looking forward to how I can grow from the experience. 

    A project that I will be working on this semester that I am looking forward to allows me to assist in organizing the Sport SHSM Conference day event that is being held at Brock and hosted by the CSC. My responsibilities for this event include coordinating, networking, creating content, holding meetings, etc. Already from this experience, my confidence has grown and I have had the chance to operate new skill sets. As a former business SHSM student, I remember how much these days and events meant to me throughout my high school experience and how impactful they were in helping me choose what I wanted to study. I am excited to have a part in creating this experience for other students.

    Through my internship with the CSC, I hope to further build my professional confidence, develop my transferable skills, and assist my team in creating content and events for the Brock community.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Georgia Rudolph – 2021 Events, Marketing, & Communications Assistant Intern

    Georgia Rudolph is a fourth-year business communication student at Brock University. This school year, she is the Events, Marketing and Communications Assistant (intern) with the Centre for Sport Capacity.

    Hello! My name is Georgia Rudolph and I am in my fourth and final year of the Media and Communications program at Brock University. I have recently been brought on to the CSC team for an 8-month position as an Events, Marketing, and Communications assistant. As an individual with a strong passion for sport, the Centre for Sport Capacity’s mission and values strongly appeal to me, and I am beyond excited to be a part of the CSC team for this school year.

    During my time here at Brock, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge within the communications field through courses in digital design, journalism, audience analysis, and research methods, just to name a few. Our academic department offers a full-year course entitled “Internship in Communications, Pop Culture or Film” for fourth-year students. This opportunity caught my eye as it offers the ability to immerse students into a workplace in order to further develop the skills obtained through our education at Brock. Upon reviewing the internship opportunities offered within the program, the Events, Marketing, and Communications Assistant position at the CSC immediately caught my attention. I took a few days to refine my resume and cover letter, as well as collect references from past employers to present the CSC with a well-rounded application. After expressing my interest in the position, the CSC team reached out to me for an interview where myself and coordinator Cole Mclean discussed the position, the CSC’s ideal candidate, and my qualifications for the role. After this conversation, I was thrilled to learn I had been offered the position.

    Two main aspects fueled my interest in this position at the Centre. The first was the opportunity to develop a wide variety of skills through this internship position. The Events, Marketing, and Communications Assistant role covers a lot of ground, from event management to content creation for social media as well as general communication and marketing. This piqued my interest as the position offers the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience in an array of fields. Furthermore, my passion for sport made the Centre an ideal fit. Growing up I participated in an array of sports, and along the way began swimming competitively. I quickly developed a love for the sport of swimming, and have carried that passion all the way to Brock where I compete on the varsity team. Along with training and competing for Brock, I coach youth athletes for the local swim club, as well as volunteer at club-level clinics and competitions. My love for sport has motivated me to pursue multiple communications positions within the sport industry, most recently with Pentathlon Canada and Swimming World Magazine. Upon reviewing the mission and values of the CSC, I was immediately drawn towards the organization as my lifelong involvement in sport has fueled a strong understanding of the importance of sport within our community. I am incredibly excited to be in a position where I can not only gain experience within the communications field but also contribute to the local community through the many projects CSC offers, such as our webinar series and Sport Support Team.

    One of the aspects of this internship that I am most excited about is the ability to work in a team environment. As a student, there is still so much to learn, and I strongly believe that working with a group of peers is one of the best ways to further yourself professionally. I am super grateful that this position allows me to collaborate with other interns, as well as the full-time CSC staff.  I am beyond excited to learn from this team of professionals, as well as share my own knowledge and experience. Together, our team will be combining our skills to work on a variety of projects.

    One project that I will be working on over the year is a new initiative that the CSC is launching, the Sport Support Team. The SST is an experiential learning opportunity where post-secondary students partner with local sports organizations to provide practical support in functional areas of the organizations. This initiative was strongly motivated by the struggles that many sport organizations have faced due to the COVID pandemic. I have seen firsthand the challenges coaches, athletes and volunteers have faced in the wake of the pandemic, therefore I strongly believe this initiative could have a large impact on any organization involved. I am beyond excited for the opportunity to work on projects such as this one that provides support to Niagara region sport institutions.

    Through my past positions within the sport industry, I have had the opportunity to develop hard skills in digital media, design, and communication. While working with the CSC, I aim to put these skills to work in order to help make an impact within the Niagara region and beyond. I hope to bring my unique perspective to contribute to the Centre’s success within the many initiatives spearheaded by the CSC. Furthermore, I hope to use this opportunity to create connections with industry leaders, as well as other young professionals with shared passions.

    Categories: Blog, Students, Uncategorized

  • 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.

     

    Introduction

                     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.

     Summary

    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

  • 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

  • Emma Fedorchuk: Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 Marketing and Communications Assistant

    photo of Emma Fedorchuk

    Emma Fedorchuk is a fourth-year Media and Communication Studies student at Brock University. She worked with the CSC as a Marketing and Communications Assistant for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms.   

    Wow! I can’t believe my time with the CSC is coming to an end…What a great experience!  

    I was taken on at the Centre for Sport Capacity as a Marketing and Communications Assistant back in September 2020 and have spent the past eight months learning, growing, and improving my skills in the marketing and communications field.  

    When I first started at the CSC, I felt extremely empowered with how much trust and responsibility was given to me and felt as though I was immediately welcomed into our small team. Given that this position was entirely remote, my supervisors Julie Stevens and Cole McClean did a great job of keeping me in the loop and checking in on me via our weekly meetings, and they also made a strong effort to be available to me throughout the day to answer any clarifying questions I may have had. Although the three of us haven’t met in person due to COVID-19, we all got to know each other quite well and created a positive virtual work environment where ideas and discussion were encouraged.  

    My time spent at the Centre has strengthened many of my skills; most notably my self-motivation and problem-solving. Because I was at home working alone rather than in a more traditional workplace environment surrounded by other people, I didn’t have someone looking over my shoulder making sure that I was keeping up with the tasks that were assigned to me. It was up to me to schedule my work for everything to be completed at a reasonable rate, while also leaving room for more pressing tasks that would pop up, as well as balancing my schoolwork, my internship with the Niagara River Lions, and my life outside of school/work. Knowing how to manage my time and stay motivated throughout working independently were both skills that were essential to my success at the CSC.  

    Through this remote placement, I also learned the importance of getting creative with your problem-solving skills. Because the CSC is still a relatively new organization, oftentimes I would have questions that our team didn’t have the answers for, so it was my responsibility to use the resources that were available to me to figure them out myself. YouTube tutorials and industry research became my best friends and solidified the fact that many of the answers that you are looking for are out there if you look hard enough. The CSC also taught me the importance of growing a contact list of people with specific expertise. The more I talked to various faculty members at Brock, the more I knew who to reach out to if I ever had specific questions. I would then take the answers that I received and report back to my supervisors as well as keep note of the solution to pass on to the next student that works with the CSC. 

    I accomplished a wide array of things at the Centre, but I am most proud of the work that I put into our social media and the time that I spent creating a communications booklet for future students.  

    Noah Nickel, the student that held the Marketing and Communications Assistant position in the summer of 2020, did a fantastic job at creating a social media strategy for the Centre and getting both our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts up and running. Noah handed me the torch after his co-op concluded, and it was my responsibility to continue growing our social media and to create an identifiable brand image for the CSC. With the help of countless YouTube tutorials, I strengthened my Adobe Illustrator skills and began creating graphics for the Centre’s various educational resources, events, student blogs, and member showcases. I also made a strong effort to get members more involved in our social media by paying close attention to the various projects and events that they were involved in and sharing this activity with our network. Not only do I believe that the Centre now has a solid foundation in which we can continue to grow our brand image, but I also believe that the effort I put into showcasing our CSC members made them feel more connected to the organization. 

    As for the communications booklet, I built upon Noah’s original social media strategy and added content that can best be described as “tips and tricks” that I have learned throughout my placement. In the booklet, I added a contact list of faculty who students will most likely have to reach out to, dimension sizing for Twitter and LinkedIn graphics, tips about using Hootsuite, tips about how/when to post, instructions about how to complete Member Showcases, and gave suggestions for future posts. I believe that if future students continue to add to this booklet and detail their best tips and tricks, that students will be able to start their placements/co-ops with the CSC with the context that they need to quickly gain their footing and get straight to work.  

    My advice for future students who will be working for the CSC is to try not to get overwhelmed. You will be entrusted with a lot of tasks and will have a busy calendar; but, don’t feel like you’re alone! You have supervisors that are more than willing to help you, and you have a long list of contacts that you can reach out to for specific questions and advice. People want to see you succeed. Stay organized, use your problem-solving skills, reach out to others, and keep an open channel of communication with your team and it’ll be smooth sailing! 

    As I mentioned in my previous blog, the main reason why I love sport so much is because of the communities that surround the various games that we play. My placement with the CSC has helped me to bridge the fond memories that I have playing sport with a workplace setting, and as I approach graduation, has also helped me to narrow down the type of communications work I would like to pursue. I now recognize just how much potential working in sport has to offer and will continue to seek out various sport-related positions.  

    Thank you, CSC! 

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Hazel Campbell: Winter 2021 Webinar & Forum Coordinator

    Hazel Campbell is a fourth-year Sport Management student at Brock University, who took on the role of Webinar & Forum Coordinator, as part of an experiential education credit with the CSC. Read on to hear Hazel’s thoughts after completing her placement with the Centre for Sport Capacity.

    Are you the type of person that learns better in a practical, hands-on environment? I am definitely one of those people. Although I have done well in my four years at Brock, going into my last semester, I felt that I still lacked skills that I could apply directly to my future career. When I began my Sport Management experiential education placement as the Forum and Webinar Coordinator with the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC), I was looking to improve my transferable employability skills.

    Doing this SPMA 4P99 placement with the CSC has been the most rewarding experiences in my four years at Brock. In my semester with the centre, I staged a successful webinar (see Past Webinars), I am also organizing an upcoming three-day forum, Athletes First: The Promotion of Safe Sport in Canada. I’m developing exciting new skills that I could not hope for in a typical lecture-style courses.

    In my role as the Webinar Coordinator, I drastically improved my professional communications skills. Throughout the process of planning the webinar, I made connections with CSC members, individuals from different departments at Brock, as well as individuals outside of Brock. I also built relationships with the panelists. I’m now comfortable interacting professionally with a variety of people, across a variety of platforms.

    Serving as the Forum Coordinator gave me insight into the immense amount of work required to organize and facilitate an event. I am more organized than ever because I’ve been managing many responsibilities at once. I gained valuable firsthand experience to help me pursue a career in event management. Regardless of your specific career goals, I am sure you can improve your employability skills if you get involved with the CSC.

    During my placement, I moderated the webinar that I planned. Moderating a discussion was not something I had done before, but I felt supported to try it by those involved in the webinar, and it was an exciting and valuable experience. This experience parallels my entire placement; during my placement, I was able to try many new things, while having the support to ask for help if I needed it.

    My advice for students interested in getting involved with the CSC is to go for it. Even if you are not interested in, or unable to do a SPMA experiential education credit, there are many possibilities for engagement. The Centre welcomes students from many faculties and has opportunities for a variety of skill sets.

    If your experience is anything like mine has been, you will gain invaluable experience and transferable skills. I would also suggest that students get involved sooner in your time at Brock rather than later. The only regret that I have about this experience is that I waited until my last semester to get involved.

    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