Canadian Sport Instute


  • It takes a concerted effort to discover new athletic talent – an area that has often been overlooked in the Canadian sport system, which relies more on the progression of young athletes from the grassroots level up to high performance. In its second year, RBC Training Ground is building momentum across the country, attracting thousands of athletes for qualifying events. In Alberta alone, approximately 400 athletes will participate in four qualifying events.

    To date, three regional qualifiers in Alberta have been completed, in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Okotoks, with one more on April 8 in Edmonton. The top male and female athletes from these qualifiers will compete at the CSI Calgary in the regional final on May 6.

    The RBC Training Ground program offers young athletes an opportunity to participate in a series of talent identification events testing for power, strength, speed and endurance. The idea is to find talented athletes and provide them with an opportunity to try a new sport in which they might be well-suited to excel.

    Kayla Dodson, 24, was the top female athlete from the Grande Prairie event. Dodson played CIS women’s hockey for five years while she was studying sport science and now works for the Alberta Sport Development Centre as a strength and conditioning coach in Grande Prairie

    Dodson isn’t sure what sport she would excel at but says she would like to try sprint track cycling. She knows it’s a long road to the Olympics and that very few athletes make it. Still, she says, “it’s every athlete’s dream to be an Olympian.”

    According to Joshua Riker-Fox, RBC Olympian, 2008 Modern Pentathlon, RBC Training Ground fills a missing piece in the sport system in Canada. “It’s quite amazing that RBC has been able to step in and help fill this big gap,” he says. “I have to believe that by providing this opportunity athletes will present themselves, especially in sports that are less technical. This is a great opportunity to identify athletes early on.”

    That is certainly the hope of many National Sport Organizations (NSOs), 11 of which are involved in the program, including Cycling, Rowing and Athletics. They’re all looking to find athletes with potential in their sport. Ultimately, CSI Calgary staff will connect with representatives from the NSOs to compare athlete performance data with NSO standards to try and identify additional athletes with potential in a specific sport.

    For Miranda Sallis, Performance Services Manager at CSI Calgary, seeing all the partners coming together to work on a common goal has been a positive experience. “It has been exciting to work with the regional Alberta Sport Development Centres, the Canadian Olympic Foundation, and RBC to attract potential new talent to high performance sport,” says Sallis. “The response to the program is very encouraging.”

    When Dodson was attending school in Australia she recalls seeing talent identification programs at the grade school level, testing for athletes with potential. “It’s a different world over there,” she says. “I remember thinking ‘I wish Canada had something like that.’” Now it does – RBC Training Ground.

    For all those undiscovered athletes out there looking for their own chance to shine, take heart and take a chance – sign up for RBC Training Ground. You never know where you might end up.

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover

  • A needle in a haystack meets a diamond in the rough – so hopes the innovative RBC Training Ground campaign that is currently gaining momentum across the country. Now in its second year, the unique athlete recruitment program is searching far and wide for Canada’s next great Olympian. Who will it be?

    The search is on at 25 local qualifying events and five regional finals throughout Canada. The program is open to athletes aged 14-25, targeting both young athletes that are talented in their sport as well as older athletes with untapped potential to transfer to a new sport. Sports like bobsleigh, rowing and athletics are filled with explosive athletes who come to these sports later in life – and RBC Training Ground knows there are hidden stars waiting to be found.

    Athletes are evaluated on their speed, power, strength and endurance through several different tests. They are also aiming to achieve performance benchmarks set by National Sport Organizations (NSOs) scouting for talented athletes with Olympic medal potential.

    RBC has partnered with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF), CBC Sports and the Canadian Olympic Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN) to run the program.

    In Alberta, CSI Calgary has been engaged to plan the local qualifiers at five Alberta Sport Development Centres (ASDC) and the regional finals at CSI Calgary. Miranda Sallis, Manager of Performance Services at CSI Calgary, is responsible for planning and managing the events and is also sending CSI Calgary physiology staff to help evaluate the athletes. “It’s a truly collaborative effort that requires a lot of coordination between the partners,” she says.

    Wendy Moar, ASDC NW Coordinator in Grande Prairie, is thrilled to host a local qualifier. “We are very excited to host the event and be a part of it,” says Moar. “It’s a huge role that our centre can fill – a big part of our purpose and mandate is specializing in providing sport science services that help athletes get to the next level and the RBC Training Ground Program aligns very well with that goal.”

    One athlete looking for a break is Jamie Strauss, a fifth-year volleyball player at Grande Prairie Regional College. Strauss, 23, is looking to make use of her athletic talents to make the jump from volleyball to a new sport like rowing. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity for athletes like me,” she says. “I’m excited to go out and see what I can do.”

    Up to 50 athletes from across the country could receive additional funding, mentorship and support from RBC and the COF to fuel their passion and Olympic dreams. The top performer from each RBC Training Ground regional final will also receive the ultimate Olympic experience – a trip to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

    Being discovered is a thrilling prospect for any athlete, but more importantly what the RBC Training Ground program offers is another avenue within the sport system for them to reach their goals. “I see it as an opportunity for an athlete to work towards and make it their goal to be a part of the program,” says Moar. “It opens up a lot of opportunities.”

    Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
    Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover

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