Over 100 Team Canada athletes celebrate career transition at the 2022 Game Plan Summit
Over the first weekend of October, more than 100 Team Canada Olympians and Paralympians gathered together for the Game Plan Summit at The Kingbridge Centre in King City, Ontario.
Organized by Game Plan, Canada’s total athlete wellness program, the event offered the opportunity for athletes to mix and mingle in a way that many of them haven’t since the onset of the pandemic. Eligible participants included both current and retired Olympians and Paralympians.
Between keynote speakers, athlete panels, and breakout sessions, they learned about many different topics, including: sport and climate change; building a personal brand; avoiding burnout; leadership; and making the transition from an athletic career to whatever comes next.
Here is a look at what Team Canada athletes enjoyed and took away from the experience:
Tewanee Joseph’s Keynote Speech sponsored by Deloitte
The opening address was delivered by Tewanee Joseph, a member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation and a giant in the sport of lacrosse. His heartfelt message included the importance of unity and community, which set the tone for the entire Summit.
Tewanee is on the Board of Trustees of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and played a key role for Vancouver 2010 as the executive director and CEO of the Four Host First Nations Secretariat. He has once again been heavily involved in developing the bid and hosting concept for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in British Columbia.
Sport vs Climate Change: All We Can Save
Saturday’s keynote address by Dr. Madeleine Orr was presented by Canadian Tire.
“One of my highlights was the conference about sustainable sport. It’s rare that we talk about that in sport. At least now it’s not taboo to talk about it in a way that athletes don’t feel bad about it, make it more accessible as a topic of discussion. To be leaders at this level, I think it would be really interesting.” – Justine Dufour-Lapointe
“I am one of the ‘Protect Your Winter’ ambassadors and I am on the Green Sports Day panel so I am really excited about that. One of the things that really pleasantly surprised me about this weekend was the commitment from the COC to start looking at how they can be more sustainable to the environment. That was really important.” – Haley Daniels
“We had a really interesting talk about sport and sustainability and that is really where my passion lies.” – Oliver Scholfield
So You Want to Work in Sport Business?
This breakout session was presented by two speakers from Deloitte, Greg Douglas and Jeff Harris.
“I just retired from sport in April and I thought when I was in sport that I knew what I wanted to do. And now that I am retired, I have no idea what I wanted to do so I wanted to come here and learn about my options… I’ve kind of jumped all around in jobs and I have never really considered coming back to working in sport and the “Do you want to work in sport business?” (session) kind of opened my eyes that there are so many other jobs in sport that I could go into that would still fill the niche that I want to be in, so I think I might revisit that now.” – Haley Daniels
Sport as a Leadership Lab
This breakout session was conducted by Dane Jensen, an acclaimed instructor of the Executive MBA program at Queen’s Smith School of Business.
“The lab with Dane about leadership was really amazing to hear because you finally realize that each athlete is a leader in their brand, a leader in their life, in their career. You can transfer those leadership skills that you used as an athlete to what’s next. It was really interesting and reassuring.” – Justine Dufour-Lapointe
“I really like how the presenter spoke about both corrective and reinforcing feedback and that is something I think I can even bring to my boat because we are very particular. We always want to be the best. But reinforcing positive feedback is just as important as corrective feedback so that is one of the big things I am taking right now.” – Kristen Kit
“Not only was his knowledge and expertise in the leadership space evident, but he immediately captured the group’s attention. It was insightful to hear how impactful leadership can be when committed to building relationships, and not just delivering results. The most reflective piece I took away was the difference between feedback and clarity within sport versus the work force. As athletes we constantly strive for better and rely on reinforcement and feedback. He showed us that clarity, competence and recognition are our superpowers — we’ve learned through sport how essential these are to being successful and can be translated to any environment, especially the workforce.” – Jenna Caira
Avoiding Burnout for Athletes Session by LifeWorks
LifeWorks, the Official Mental Health partner of Team Canada, hosted a session covering the topic of avoiding burnout for athletes. Dr. Cole Cohen, a Senior Consultant for LifeWorks, presented resources for athletes to help them identify signs of burnout and provided ways to prevent and address it in their careers.
On Saturday afternoon, athletes participated in a Marketplace with various booths providing key information to help make future life decisions.
Deloitte’s booth in the Marketplace was well-visited by athletes seeking additional information on the Game Plan Work Experience Program and Life at Deloitte, including their AR Metaverse experience.
Smith School of Business, a founding partner of Game Plan, was also present at the Marketplace, to speak to the award opportunities available for athletes across their professional graduate, Certificate in Business and executive education programs.
“The good thing about coming to this Summit is you kind of get to see all the resources available to you and make sure that as an athlete transitioning out I am using all of the resources available. Using some of the mental health services – I am in that process – using some of the career counseling services.” – Gilmore Junio
Of course you can’t bring a bunch of elite athletes together and not give them the opportunity to have some fun. Sport Chek provided the equipment needed for outdoor activities, including pickleball and resistance training.
“It’s a really good opportunity to connect with other athletes. I think we missed a lot of that connection over COVID so it is nice to be around familiar faces and fellow Olympians and get to just celebrate a bit more and spend time together in a relaxed setting.” – Katie Vincent
Athlete Panel: Challenges with Transition and Discovering Your Transferable Skills
“It was really cool to hear about how they made their transitions. Personally knowing Adam and getting a chance to chat with him was very reassuring. For someone so accomplished to be ‘I struggled as well’ and to hear his story was super nice to hear.” – Gilmore Junio
“It touched us all in a different way. It was a little balm to feel a little less alone in this environment which is a little destabilizing.” – Justine Dufour-Lapointe
“I mainly came for the conferences discussing the subjects of burnout in athletes and the other one about transitioning after a sports career. These are subjects that affect me, especially since I find myself at that place in my career. I would have taken more than an hour for each conference! It was super interesting.” – Maude Charron
“Thank you so much for putting this on, Game Plan and Deloitte, it’s been a fantastic experience.” – Oliver Scholfield
Game Plan Advisors support athletes one-on-one all year round by offering skill development, education support, networking opportunities, career exploration and access to subsidized mental health care. The next Game Plan Summit will be held in 2024 after the Paris 2024 Games. In the meantime, connect with your Advisor to learn about regional Game Plan events or visit MyGamePlan.ca to learn more.