Students

  • A curious mind leads to new opportunities: Reflecting on the benefits of “being curious”

    My name is Mandisa Lau, and I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Recreation and Leisure Studies. I completed my placement with Brock University’s Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) where I served as the team lead for a pilot program called the Sport Support Team (SST).

    “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back”

    The expression “curiosity killed the cat” is often used to warn people that being curious can get them into trouble, but the rewards or risks may be worth it. As I reflect upon my experience, I realize that I may have not completed my placement with the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) if it had not been for curiosity. As a matter of fact, growing up I was not very athletic and often despised sports. However, recently learning about the psychosocial benefits of sports, I am more open to the idea of participating and or researching the topic. Thus, when the opportunity came up with the CSC, I was more inclined to learn what it means to enhance sport capacity.

    This blog outlines my reflections, key skills, and the Brock Competency that I have acquired as a university student completing my 60- hour fieldwork placement at the CSC.

    “Be Curious”

    A major part of my role involved working with other students and my supervisor towards a common goal, which was to enhance the capacity within local Niagara sport organizations.

    As a result of pursuing a fieldwork placement in sport capacity, an area that I am not familiar with, and asking questions to increase my knowledge, I developed the competency “Be Curious“. This competency refers to exploring new ideas, opportunities, and sources of knowledge, as well as demonstrating a commitment to lifelong learning. Furthermore, curiosity helped me to develop personal and professional skills such as collaboration, innovation, and inquisitiveness.

    During my time as the Sport Support Team Lead, I developed three skills- collaboration, innovation, and inquisitiveness.

    Collaboration

    As the Sport Support Team Lead, I guided and mentored sport management students. Though many supervisors/team leads may start from a place of “here’s how I do it”, I started with a true interest in others.[1]

    By collaborating with students outside of my program, I gained new perspectives and insights. Not only did this change the nature of the interaction, but it helped to build relationships with my peers and my supervisor which led to a great working collaboration. Moreover, I gained insight into the importance of interdisciplinary work and even considered what my future career might look like if I were to pursue a position in the sport industry. My goal is to enhance my collaboration skills by gaining exposure to opportunities requiring interdisciplinary work, such as pursuing an executive position in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences student association at Brock University.

    Innovation

    During challenging times, it was important that I remained optimistic and used my innovation skills to respond creatively and overcome constraints. For instance, at the beginning of the winter semester when provincial guidelines put a pause on sport practices, my fellow peers and I were uncertain if we had enough time to gain sufficient hours and experience within the semester. Thus, it was important to be open to new ideas and understand that there is more than one way of doing things. Besides challenging times, innovation skills are crucial as this may help an organization refine problems, capabilities, and strategies. I can improve my innovation skills by translating conflicts that arose during the placement as learning experiences and self-reflect on everything that happened.

    Inquisitiveness

    An inquisitive personality refers to always inquiring, and always asking questions [2]. In fact, being inquisitive also requires you to be reflective of what you’ve learned from other people. Thus, an inquisitive interaction is an intentional one. By nature, we are so used to focusing on ourselves, but researchers have found that the more we focus on ourselves, the harder it becomes to look at another perspective [3]. For instance, through interactions with local sports partners and students, instead of presenting the information, I asked open-ended questions which all were guided by curiosity.

    Moreover, inquisitiveness is something I’ve improved over the years by gaining more self-confidence and asking questions when necessary. When I begin my professional career, I hope to model what that means and how it is practiced as a leader with an inquisitive nature.

    Conclusion

    As I reflect upon my time at the CSC as the SST Lead, I am extremely thankful for the opportunities present to not only refine but develop transferable skills that will aide as I move into my last year of my degree. Furthermore, I want to thank Dr. Stevens for her continuous support and guidance through this semester as well as my fellow peers in the Sport Management program for joining the SST.

    Lastly, I would highly recommend the SST to anyone looking to leverage their personal and professional skills as well as gain experiences in community and non-profit sport organizations!

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Chris Weier – Entry Blog, Marketing, Communications, and Business Development Coordinator

    Hello, my name is Chris Weier, I am from Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, and I am currently a student finishing the last year of my sport management degree at Brock University. I am the Marketing, Communications, and Development Coordinator Intern with the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) summer, 2022. I am very excited to continue my professional development with the CSC and look forward to the many projects and experiences that I will face in the next four months.

    With the help of Career Zone at Brock and the Sport Management Experiential Coordinator, Michael Fawkes, I was able to secure an interview with Dr. Julie Stevens, the Director of the Centre, and Jess Crosthwaite, the Coordinator of the Centre. The application and interview process was something I had never experienced before. For the past seven summers, I worked on a farm where there were no resumés, cover letters, or interviews required. With support from Career Zone, I was able to develop both a successful cover letter and resumé and complete the interview process for the first time.

    Growing up I was heavily involved in sport, playing both hockey and lacrosse; however I have limited experience on the business side of sport. Nowadays, I continue to play lacrosse for the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League and I am currently an on-ice official at the minor hockey level as well as a linesperson for the Ontario Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey Association.

    The introduction to the business side in areas of communication and marketing and the opportunity to gain valuable experience was the main attraction of the CSC for me. As a participant, you do not often get exposed to this side of sports and I recognize that I need to develop technical skills such as content creation, social media management, and website design, among others, to continue my professional development. It is also important to develop key soft skills in areas of leadership, problem-solving, and time management that I believe I will develop with my time at the CSC.

    I was also intrigued by the Centre because of the interaction and close relation it has to its members, the Niagara region, and community partners. I believe that this internship will expose me to numerous networking opportunities with people and organizations that will be valuable resources in the future. Additionally, I learned a great deal from the many student blogs from past CSC interns, as they described the types of opportunities and various experiences they had while interning with the CSC.

    Interning with the Centre will allow me to be a part of many exciting events and experiences throughout the summer. One event that stands out to me is the 2022 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay that happened on May 28th. This event was a collaboration with the Niagara 2022 Canada Games and Commonwealth Sport Canada while engaging with Brock staff, faculty, and other members in the community.

    The Centre for Sport Capacity provides great experiential learning that will be extremely beneficial to my professional development. Throughout the internship, I hope to continue to develop both hard and soft skills that can be transferred to future opportunities as well as connect with a range of industry professionals to help build lasting relationships. I look forward to my opportunity as the Communications, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator intern with the Centre!

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Jason Corry – Exit Blog, Marketing, Communications and Business Development Coordinator

    Hi, my name is Jason Corry, I am originally from Whitby Ontario and am currently completing my fourth year of Sport Management at Brock University. Over the last four months I have been the Communications, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator at the Centre for Sport Capacity.

    The Centre for Sport Capacity is an amazing organization which has allowed me to improve both as a person and a professional. I learned a great deal about the intricacies of how sport organizations operate and through these processes I developed skills in a wide variety of operational areas that I had previously had no experience with. I do not consider myself a very creative or artistic individual and as such the idea of generating visual content on the CSC’s social media platforms seemed daunting at first. However, with the support of my amazing supervisors, CSC Members, and fellow student interns, I was able to become comfortable with content creation sites such as Canva.

    I also developed practical soft skills that will assist me in my future. I communicated with a variety of stakeholders in a vast array of tones. This allowed me to enhance my communication skills both written and verbal. I wrote emails, created social media posts and spoke with various partners. Communicating with so many different stakeholders allowed me to effectively convey my ideas, which is a valued skill in the workplace today.

    The most exciting project that I worked on was the Girls Leadership Academy which will take place this summer during the 2022 Niagara Canada Summer Games. As the Communications, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator, I was tasked with bringing this project from the conceptual phase through to fruition. I used many business strategies that I had learned in class to assist in developing this program. For example, I used financial analysis tools to help determine the price points and revenue projections for this event. Specifically, I created a break-even analysis using course teachings from SPMA 3P27 and developed an in-depth SWOT analysis to assess the marketplace.

    One of the Centre’s many foci is knowledge mobilization (KM) within the sport industry. This involves taking information that has been discovered through research and communicating findings to help inform policy-makers, other individuals and organizations who can put this information into practice. In my role I worked on many different forms of KM and this experience has allowed me to secure an RA position with the Canada Summer Games Academic. When I first applied to work at the CSC, I did not know what KM was, but through the many projects and events that I helped deliver at the CSC I have now been able to gain summer employment in an area I now enjoy.

    Overall, working for the CSC has taught me so much about working in an office setting and has enabled me to develop as a professional. These lessons will help me succeed in my postgraduate work. I have recently been accepted to Osgoode Hall Law School and am hoping to pursue a career in law. My experience with the CSC and the skills I have developed in these four short months have created a great foundation that will help me to achieve my future career aspirations.

    I cannot thank the CSC enough for making this a wonderful experience and I would encourage any and all students to seek volunteer, placements or paid positions within the CSC.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Georgia Rudolph – Exit Blog, 2021-2022 Events, Marketing, and Communications Assistant

    Hi again! To reintroduce myself, I am Georgia Rudolph. I am a fourth-year student in the media and communications program at Brock University and I am wrapping up my 8-month internship as an events, marketing, and communications assistant at the Centre for Sport Capacity. I completed this internship as a part of the fourth year course; COMM4F00. Following the conclusion of this semester, I will be graduating with my undergraduate degree.

    My time at the Centre was a fundamental aspect of my education here at Brock. Throughout my internship, I was able to effectively apply the skills and concepts that I have learned throughout my undergraduate degree in order to prepare myself for the workforce. One of the key insights I gained through my time with the Centre is the importance of collaboration. During my time at the CSC I was able to work alongside many amazing staff and partners of the Centre, all of whom offered me valuable advice. Having a great team whom offers beneficial input truly showed me how much can be learned from our peers.

    While I was able to contribute to many CSC projects and events, an experience that I found to be extremely gratifying and educational was my involvement with the Sport Support Team (SST). The SST is a new initiative to the CSC which launched in January of this year. The goal of the SST was to assist in enhancing local sport association operations in several functional areas to achieve improved capacity following the struggles created by the pandemic. To do so, the Centre recruited and trained several student volunteers who were then paired with a local sport organization. These students contributed to the organization by assisting with fundamental tasks needed to support the operation of these non-profit organizations. As an athlete myself I have seen the detrimental impacts the pandemic has had on many local sport organizations. Being able to offer assistance to these organizations, while also offering students experiential learning opportunities is extremely gratifying. I am honored to have contributed to this program, and I cannot wait to see what the future of the SST holds.

    My role within the SST consisted of managing the start-up of the program, as the CSC team got this new initiative off the ground. I was responsible for managing many of the volunteer applications, as well as interviewing students interested in the role. As we got the SST running, our team organized professional development training sessions for the students in order to prepare them for their work with their partner sport organization. Furthermore, I was a contact point for our partner organizations as a way for them to outline their specific needs from the SST initiative, and to pair students with their partner organizations based on skills and interests. This experience was very exciting for me, as it allowed me to further develop skills in effective communication, and leadership.

    The CSC offered me many opportunities to further develop professional skills that will transfer into my future career. During my time with the Centre, I was able to gain experience in event planning through the management of the CSC Sport and Environment series. The series consisted of three webinars, each with expert keynote speakers whomst conduct research within the field. Being responsible for the effective planning and execution of this series was a huge accomplishment for me, and certainly taught me a lot about the various aspects of event planning

    As I reflect on my time at the Centre, I am immensely grateful for the wide array of experiences offered. I feel that I was able to bring skills that I had already developed, such as digital content creation, and use these skills to expand the CSC’s digital reach. Furthermore, being able to work in a team environment where my voice is valued allowed for me to share my perspective on CSC events and content as the team worked together to improve the Centre’s output.

    As graduation quickly approaches, my next steps are starting to fall into place. This May, I will be starting a role as a customer engagement co-ordinator for a company within the sports industry. This role will allow me to draw upon my experience at the CSC, and further the skills I have been able to develop throughout my internship.

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Ian Macintosh – The Sport Support Team: Helping Community Sport Organizations in Niagara

    The Sport Support Team: Helping Community Sport Organizations in Niagara

    The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on many aspects of life both locally and internationally. There were monumental political, technological, and social changes seen throughout the world. However, the critical problem affecting many small community sport organizations (CSO) was the economic burden imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the South Niagara Canoe Club (SNCC), the programs that fund their core operations were suspended, leaving the SNCC unable to generate revenue.

    Recognizing the challenges that the SNCC and other community sport organizations faced, I decided to join the Sport Support Team (SST). During the pandemic, I realized the power sport has to unite people during challenging times. People wanted diversions and positivity when there seemed only to be unwelcome news. I still missed the ability that CSOs had to connect with others who share similar passions. Therefore, I joined the SST to create opportunities for others to similarly use sport as a mechanism to build positive social change at a community level.

    In November of 2022, I joined the SNCC as a team manager. My role consisted of helping the organization ideate and promote its spring, summer and autumn programming for the 2022 calendar year. The planning aspect consisted of event creation and implantation on their website. I partook in helping to schedule and post the programs onto the website and then promote the programs through the club’s social media. Before joining the club, I had no experience with canoeing, kayaking or dragon boat. However, I do not believe that not having experience with unfamiliar sports should stop you from applying. With the SST’s help, I quickly learned many lessons about both the sport and the vision and values that the SNCC had. This knowledge lets me tailor my work to meet the expectations of the organizational stakeholders and have more impact within my role.

    Below, I outline some of the main lessons that I took away from my experience helping a local sport organization following the COVID-19 pandemic.   

    A Little Help Goes a Long Way in Small Organizations

    Most CSO members are volunteers. Any support that you provide to these organizations, no matter how small, goes a long way in helping them. Although I was volunteering only five hours a week, I quickly became an integral part of the organization. With the training provided by the SST, I approached each situation with professionalism and put an intentional focus on learning more about the culture and stakeholders of the SNCC. This resulted in significant trust and responsibility being put into me. For example, having an audience of over 30,000 thousand people on social media felt slightly daunting. Nevertheless, the experiences the SST provides will help us understand some of the roles and responsibilities that we will have in future internships and entry-level jobs within the sport industry.

    Adjusting to the Ambiguity of the Professional Work Environment

    One of the first lessons I learned after joining the SNCC was how different our academic careers are from a professional work environment. In high school and university, you often have a clear outline of the expectations for a project or exam and what steps you need to take to succeed. However, I quickly realized that in a professional setting, the tasks we are responsible for have a variety of ways to be achieved. Thus, it is vital to have a supportive environment focused on helping you acclimate. Through the SST training and the kindness of the SNCC members, I quickly adjusted to the unique working environment that nonprofits work within. With their support. By asking probing questions and learning organizational expectations, I soon became comfortable with ambiguity which played a large part in finding success within my role.

    Developing Transferable Skills for the Sport Industry

    Having an opportunity during our time at Brock University to gain experiential learning and utilize the theoretical knowledge we gain from our classes can feel incredibly rewarding. I built upon my education to develop transferrable skills that I can use in my personal and professional future. Below I outline three transferable skills I acquired while working for the South Niagara Canoe Club.

    Organization

    Given that the volunteer work was self-directed, you have the flexibility to choose when to begin and end tasks to meet obligations. In order to succeed, I needed to elevate my organizational skills. While I worked with volunteered for the SNCC and the SST, I managed many responsibilities. I was volunteering for the 2023 North American Indigenous Games, the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games and working on independent research study while having seven full-time classes at Brock University. Thus, the importance of managing my time efficiently was necessary to find personal success while also bringing value to the South Niagara Canoe Club.

    Coordination

    In my role as the team manager of the South Niagara Canoe Club, the importance of planning and coordination were paramount to increasing summer program participation after the COVID-19 pandemic. To better plan the summer programs, I scheduled frequent meetings with the Commodore and other stakeholders, letting me better tailor the programs to a target audience and enhance the SNCC’s mission of becoming the go-to destination for paddle sport within the Niagara region. The tailored, carefully planned approach resulted in 73 registrations during the first three weeks of summer camp registration — an increase from only 14 the previous year. By increasing my coordination with others, I was able to gain the insights needed to succeed within my position and gain valuable skills for my future career goals.

    Analytical Skills

    Being part of a CSO also helped me understand and solve real problems local sport leaders face every week. For example, while I have been an avid social media consumer for countless years, I never really considered the differences between creating content for myself and for an organization. In my volunteer role, I had to think critically about the best ways to connect with my target audience while remaining authentic to the SNCC brand. One way to do this was to create new social media platforms for the SNCC to leverage, like LinkedIn and TikTok. It also meant expanding my social media platforms to include Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. I had to analyze the different audiences and cultures of each platform and adapt my content creation strategy. Through these multidimensional problems, I challenged myself while building my analytical skills.

    Conclusion

    As a result of the Sport Support Team and the collaboration between the Centre for Sport Capacity and the South Niagara Canoe Club, I experienced an invaluable opportunity to build transferable skills and learn how CSO’s have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this experience has been one of the most fruitful in preparing me to enter the sport industry after I graduate. I would recommend the SST to anyone looking to engage in community and nonprofit sport organizations in the future or anyone simply looking to give back to the community and further their personal and professional growth.

    If you want to get involved with the Sport Support Team, visit the SST webpage

    All Photos Courtesy of the South Niagara Canoe Club

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Bailey Burke – Exit Blog 2021-2022 Events, Marketing and Communications Assistant

    My name is Bailey Burke, I am from Barrie, Ontario, and I have just completed my 4th year of the Business Communication program here at Brock! I have been an intern at The Centre for Sport Capacity for the past eight months and have officially completed my experiential learning requirements with them. The CSC brought me on as an Events, Marketing, and Communications assistant (intern). My role consisted of working alongside my team to develop media content, organize webinars for community members, and also gave me opportunities to work with other departments within Brock to create promotional content for upcoming events being hosted by the CSC. I was given autonomy over the work and content that I made, which allowed me to gain confidence and experience within my desired field and expand my network, to name only a few of the opportunities presented to me during my time with the CSC. 

    Expanding on my experiences and opportunities, I came into the experiential learning program hoping to grow my hard skills while still improving my professionalism and transferable skills. Event management and content creation within the Centre allowed me to develop both simultaneously.

    The webinars I assisted with required multiple posts to inform students about the upcoming webinar discussions, the speakers who they would hear from, information about the host of the webinar, etc. This allowed me to develop many different graphics, which became second nature as my internship went on. In addition, I had to meet with webinar hosts to gather the information I needed to create this content. Working with the hosts allowed me to network, become comfortable leading meetings, and gain the confidence I needed to handle myself professionally in different settings. 

    Though there was a lot to be learned from the work that I did with the Centre, each was unique and had exciting elements. The most exciting project I was given a chance to work on was the content development for the Sport Conference Day that is being hosted May 17th, 2022. This event offers high school students the opportunity to come to Brock for the day and hear from a keynote speaker, complete workshops, as well as hear from a Brock student panel. The event also allows SHSM students to complete many of their requirements. My role in this event started in the early planning stages. I worked with Brock Recruitment to work out promotional measures and the overall expectations for the day. This resulted in a flyer being developed and shared with high school teachers to encourage them to bring their students. As a result, the Sport Conference Day surpassed the expected number of participants and now has a waitlist for classes looking to attend! It was really rewarding to see the amount of interest for this event I had a small part in. 

    The Sport Conference Day is only one accomplishment I had at the Centre. There were many personal accomplishments I was able to make during the past eight months. From perfecting my email etiquette to learning how to work efficiently and effectively as part of a team, I reached the goals I had set for myself. 

    Though I am sad to be leaving the CSC, the perspectives and skills I am leaving with will be prevalent as I move toward my next steps after graduation. As I go forward into my career, the communication skills and workplace etiquette that the CSC taught me have provided me with the confidence and capability to enter the workforce. Knowing that I can design content, work with a team, communicate with an array of people, organize events, etc., is all thanks to the work and opportunities the Centre provided me. 

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Mandisa Lau – Breaking Down Barriers, One inning at a time: Reflections as a Community Researcher

    Breaking Down Barriers, One inning at a time: Reflections as a Community Researcher 

    Up to 62% of Canadian adolescent girls are not participating in any kind of sport and one in three girls who have participated in sports drop out by late adolescence (Canadian Women & Sport, 2020). 

     Such statistics illustrate that gender inequality continues to be prevalent in sports. Therefore, I was thrilled to collaborate with Canadian Girls Baseball, Brock Centre for Sport Capacity and Community Researchers on a research project that was looking to understand female athletes and family satisfaction. Specifically, Canadian Girls Baseball (CGB) were looking to see if a female-owned, and led organization made an impact to young female athletes. As a result, I created survey questions that were then distributed and e-blasted to families to capture their satisfaction rate. In total, there were 50 respondents.  

    Our aim for the research project was to examine players’ satisfaction as well as understand the impact of a female-led sport organization upon female youth participants. This blog provides my reflections, key lessons, and valuable skills that I acquired as part of this project. I look forward to continuing to practice and improve such skills throughout my journey as a researcher.  

     

    Diamond, Surveys, and Self-reflection: Lessons Learned 

    I learned a lot from attending training modules, conducting needs assessments, creating, and analyzing research data. Below, I outline two skills that I learned through this process.  

    Lesson #1: “See Me, Be Me” 

    “See me, be me” I first heard this simple but profound quote during my initial needs assessment with Canadian Girls Baseball CEO, Dana Bookman. With multiple female leaders to look up to within the CGB, this quote was very fitting. The quote was also extremely inspirational as it encourages women to keep breaking down barriers, especially in male-dominated sports, like baseball. For instance, when one strong female leader overcomes a barrier, it inspires others to do the same. Through survey responses, parents also indicated that CGB was an excellent example of what women can achieve when they work together.  

     

    Lesson #2- Think Outside of the Diamond: Design your Research to be Impactful for a variety of stakeholders’  

    When I was designing my survey, I had focused on our main objectives: 

    1. To measure/determine/analyze if organized baseball programs can result in a safe environment where female players can develop psychosocial skills and life skills  
    1. To determine how CGB has influences the lives of female players 
    1. To measure/determine what impact female players felt as CGB is a female-led, girls only organization. 

    I assumed that these results would only be used to tailor and improve CGB’s existing programs I did not realize that the results could be used beyond program improvement, such as, grant and funding applications. Therefore, I included questions where respondents self-reflected on the perceived importance of CGB being a female- run and all sports organization that aims at to break down barriers, especially in male-dominated sports.  

     

    Developing my Skills as a Community Researcher 

    By participating in this collaborative project, I was also able to reflect on my experience and how I can best apply the professional and life skills I developed. Below, I outline and discuss three professional and life skills.  

    Accountability  

    As a full-time student with two part-time jobs, I always hold myself accountable for everything I do.  However, I have never partaken in an independent study course where the majority of the course was done autonomously and self-directed. At first, I found it daunting, how was I supposed to hold myself accountable if there were no specific deadlines? In addition to the monthly training modules, it also served as a quick check-in to see where each student was at with their projects. Through monthly training modules and email check-ins with my academic supervisor, CBG and Community Researchers, I had the opportunity to enhance my accountability skills.  

     

    Written Communication  

    Due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, most of my communication with CGB was through email. It was important that I was able to draft well-written and clear emails to ensure that everyone was on the same page. Therefore, I further developed my writing skills through drafting weekly reports and emails to CGB, Community Researchers and my academic supervisors.  

     

    Flexibility 

    Conducting a research project remotely had its own challenges. Specifically, a prominent challenge encountered was the management of varying work schedules. Our initial meeting took place during my reading week when I visited New York, and despite being on a trip, I looked forward to our meeting and was prepared to work remotely. On the other hand, different work schedules also meant that there were delayed messages or missed email responses. Our course timeline was greatly affected by this, especially during the launch of the survey. However, with a new mindset and an extension to the course, we were ready to continue!  

     

    Conclusion  

    As a result of this collaborative project with Brock Centre for Sport Capacity, Community Researchers, and Canadian Girls Baseball, I learned important lessons about the value of having a strong female mentor and how to use survey results beyond the CGB program. In addition, I had the opportunity to gain and improve on my accountability, written communication, and flexibility skills. Overall, I hope that this meaningful collaboration as well as my research data will bring light to the persistent issue of gender inequality in sports.

     

    References  

    Canadian Women & Sport (2020). Canadian Girls are Dropping out of Sport According to National Study. Women and Sport. https://womenandsport.ca/canadian-girls-dropping-out-of-sport/ 

      

    Categories: Blog, Students

  • Jason Corry – Communications, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator (Intern)

    When I think about the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC), I think about the projects the CSC has hosted and longing to be apart of them. I think about how my own experiences with sport have been influenced by programs like the Centre. As I look ahead, to the projects I will oversee and deliver I know that I will positively impact others’ lives as the new Communications, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator Intern at the CSC.

    My name is Jason Corry, and I am a fourth year Sport Management (honours) student at Brock University. I am extremely excited to complete my internship at the Centre for Sport Capacity where I can continue to engage and build strong relationships with many different people. I hope that in my new role I can be a part of providing experiences and interactions that I was lucky enough to enjoy during my undergraduate experience.

    While at Brock I volunteered with many great organizations in the Niagara region. I volunteered as a station coordinator at the Niagara Barrelman Triathlon, and as a coach for youth hockey organizations to help grow the sport. Most recently I have worked as writer and editor of the Brock University (BU) law Review. This role appealed to me because it offered me a chance to improve my verbal and written communication skills while also providing other students with assistance in pursuing their own career goals. I collaborated with others to alter the format of the BU Law Review, making the review more appealing to readers, and providing more learning opportunities to help others achieve their law school dreams. Through these experiences I have developed skills that will help me succeed in this role and provide meaningful interactions with sport to children across Canada.

    What intrigues me the most about the CSC is the wide array of functional areas they are responsible for. The CSC works with a wide range of researchers who conduct both academic and applied projects to identify ways in which sport organizations across the country can improve. They host events to disseminate information regarding the best practices in sport and are at the forefront of developing new ways that society thinks about sport and recreation. When the opportunity to join this organization presented itself through the Sport Management internship program, I knew that the meaningful work done within this organization aligned with my future aspirations to assist sport organizations across Canada in creating a positive experience for all.

    I am excited to get in at the ground floor and help introduce new services and programs that will transform the sport industry. At the Centre I will be given the ability to use my problem-solving skills and communication skills to connect with others in the sport industry and develop new ways of using groundbreaking research to successfully assist sport organizations across the country. I am very excited about this opportunity because I will help many people on a regular basis while at the same time developing skills that will assist me in the future.

    In this role I will be given the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects. From complimentary informational webinars to corporate training programs, I will build experience working in many functional areas of sport management. Regardless of where my career takes me, these skills are essential to succeeding in almost all roles. Building communication and problem-solving skills early on is key to becoming the best version of myself. Through this internship, I will be afforded an opportunity to work with experienced people in the communications and marketing field and improve my skills within the social media sphere. I have been tasked with creating social media content for the Centre for Sport Capacity on various content creation platforms. This is something that I have not yet done for an organization. I am very excited about the opportunity to improve the organization’s reach through social media.

    The Centre for Sport Capacity offers a unique experience for students to learn important skills and work with others in a collaborative fashion that will aid them in developing both transferable skills and real-world experience in a variety of sport related industries. I am proud to be a member of the CSC team and am excited for the opportunities that await me in my new role.

    Categories: Blog, 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