2007 was my first AthletesCAN (www.athletescan.com) Forum in Whitehorse, Yukon. It was mind-opening. On 100 different levels and with a depth I can’t share in a few paragraphs here.
The experience influenced my outlook on sport, from how I participated, how I consumed sport media, how I critically evaluated our sport organizations. Outlook is an overused, under-understood concept with a lens that blurs, focuses, irritates, or positively affects the way we see our story unfold in front of us. Forum provides unmatched clarity. This weekend, I found myself at my sixth Forum, completing a 3 year tenure on its board. And there has yet to be a Forum that I was not given chills, saw tears, and tasted the passion of Canadian athletes. This weekend had participation from, I believe, 70 athlete representatives, Sport Canada, Own the Podium (CEO Anne Merklinger), TO2015 Pan/Para Pan Am Games CEO, and branding/marketing/cause leaders like Chimp, GoSocial, Matthew Diamond (from Hunter Straker (design and branding leader), and many others.
I can’t share all the awesomeness of Forum, but to encourage as many national team athletes as possible to participate in it. Because it changes one’s perspective and reminds me that there is a really broad value to sport. Even go through the crappy time that’s been the last few months, spending 3 days with great athletes and people who share a similar story. It is a firm reminder of sport’s value beyond the stress of performance goals. There is such a pressure to be everywhere and be everything to everyone (sponsors, NSOs, coaches) that the fun often disappears. We spent our first day at Bill Crothers Secondary School in Markham and did 6 sessions with 15-20 kids. This is a sport’s school, and the students were introduced to sports they’d never tried. We did fencing; I was with National Team Fencer Igor Ganstevich. There was wheelchair tennis, cricket, luge, diving, rowing and more. It tied very nicely into Sports Day in Canada.
Athletes leave Forum so pumped up about sport because it’s a retreat that reminds everyone how beneficial elite competition is, despite the baggage that comes with it. Big thanks to AthletesCAN for having me on the board the past three years and for the membership voting me in. I look forward to continuing to remain involved and to AthletesCAN progressing with more presence, improving every national team athlete’s experience.