The impact that a coach can have on an athlete is profound. From nurturing development to guiding performance to fostering success – the coach is integral to the athlete experience and undoubtedly has the greatest influence on an athlete’s career. Ensuring that the experience remains positive and encouraging is an enormous responsibility for any coach.
This responsibility has recently been bolstered by a new initiative coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES). The Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM) is a system-wide movement designed to address the role coaches play with issues relating to the health and safety of athletes, both on and off the field of play.
National, provincial, territorial and community sport organizations are encouraged to sign the pledge and adopt new policies to ensure the impact of coaches is a positive one for athletes and for Canadian sport. The CSI Calgary has recently become the first multi-sport organization in Canada to sign on to the RCM.
By making the pledge, the CSI Calgary has committed to implementing supportive policies and processes that adhere to the three key areas of focus: the Rule of Two, Background Screening (including Criminal Record Checks) and Respect and Ethics Training. The Rule of Two ensures that two adults are present at competitions and training camps with minor athletes, which serves to protect minor athletes in potentially vulnerable situations.
For Dale Henwood, President and CEO of the CSI Calgary, the RCM represents an opportunity for the institute and its coaches to uphold the highest standard of care for its athletes. “The RCM helps coaching as a profession, to ensure that we have good quality, ethical people working with our athletes,” says Henwood.
The CSI Calgary has always worked towards providing a motivating encouraging and enjoyable environment for the athletes. Henwood says that the coach is an essential part of helping to create that. “We want to ensure that athletes are safe and that coaches are protected,” says Jason Sjostrom, CSI Calgary Coaching Program Director. “The CSI Calgary has a responsibility to support these policies.” Additionally, the RCM can increase awareness for all staff and volunteers involved in sport. According to Sjostrom, “when there are violations you have a vehicle to say ‘this isn’t right’. This RCM demands that accountability.”
To date, the RCM has had great success, with more than forty NSOs, P/TSOs, and community clubs taking the pledge. Luge Canada was one of the first NSOs to take the pledge and nine others have since joined as well. The long-term goal is to see all NSOs take the pledge.
Ultimately, the RCM is about providing a positive sport experience for athletes of all ages, from grassroots and community programs right up to high performance elite sport. Henwood says that from the beginning the CSI Calgary has worked to make sure coaches are having a positive impact on their athletes.
Simply put, the RCM speaks to the heart of what is good and right. For Henwood, the decision to sign the pledge was easy. “When we went to the CSI Calgary board with this, it was strongly felt it was the right thing to do.”
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto