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

  • 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 gain real-world experience. The opportunity for experiential education in the Sport Management program was something I looked forward to and started since my first year. By the time I reached my third year, I was prepared and enthusiastic to submit my application to the internship program.

    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 that provides practical support to sport organizations, is very unique to what I’d done in the past. It allowed me to experience a different aspect to a familiar industry, something that I was very excited for.

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

    The most exciting aspect of this role in the CSC however 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 new competencies and grow as a professional as I prepare to enter the industry. Some of these sessions include media training, website accessibility instruction, and entrepreneurship development. 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

  • 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