Onwards and Upwards with the Smith School of Business

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Combine education with the qualities gained in high-performance sport and the result is no doubt a profound capacity to achieve great success in life, and even change the world.

Facilitating the acquisition of a world-class education is an eight-year partnership established in 2015 between the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

The program is offered through Game Plan, powered by Deloitte, Canada’s total athlete wellness program, where eligible athletes (Olympians, Paralympians and National Team Athletes) can apply for scholarships to pursue a number of programs at Smith, including an MBA. Several CSI Calgary athletes have earned full ride scholarships at Smith through the program, like Nathaniel Miller (water polo) and Jessica Zelinka (athletics).

Elspeth Murray, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of MBA and Masters Programs at the Smith School of Business, says the partnership provides a great opportunity for the COC and Smith to add value to each other’s organizations.

“Both the COC and Smith share a high-performance coaching culture,” she explains. “Each partner brings a unique and highly successful approach to coaching to the partnership, sharing best practices through workshops and networking.”

Long Track speed skater Lauren McGuire is transitioning out of a lifetime in high-performance sport and is one of the latest CSI Calgary athletes to be awarded a scholarship at the Smith School of Business via the Game Plan program, along with ski jumper Eric Mitchell, who won a scholarship to the Accelerated MBA program.

After two frustrating years of dealing with a herniated disc in her back, McGuire realized she needed to explore her options outside of sport. She learned about the Game Plan scholarships at Smith through CSI Calgary and her curiosity was piqued.

McGuire, who has an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and Italian from the University of Calgary, will begin the one-year MBA program in January.

Although she had never really considered pursuing an MBA – she initially wanted to pursue either medicine or dentistry – it was an experience working as a national team mentor for girls aged 8-15 in winter sport through the Girls Only Athletic Leadership program at WinSport that made her realize she was passionate about mentorship and helping others achieve their potential.

“It was super empowering to help these girls pursue sport, whether they were athletic or not,” affirms McGuire. She says the experience changed the direction she wanted to take. “I realized I wasn’t going to get this feeling doing surgery in people’s mouths,” she laughs.

McGuire credits her commitment to taking full advantage of the life skills workshops available to CSI Calgary athletes (like public speaking and self-marketing) with building her skillset with skills that programs like the MBA at Smith are looking for. “A small investment of time over the years accumulated to a very strong resumé,” says McGuire. “They were looking for people with my skills and everything lined up.”

Murray says that high-level athletes possess many of the characteristics that Smith looks for in students. “They have skills in leadership, determination, collaboration, resilience,” she says. “We also know that these athletes will thrive in our team-based approach to learning. They “get” how to contribute to a high-performance team and have and will continue to be an asset to all our programs.”

McGuire is most interested in the field of organizational development and enhancing team environments in business and human resources. She says is looking forward to working with like-minded students in the MBA program. “I’m thrilled and grateful to have the opportunity to step from one great team to another great team,” she says.

As part of the eight-year strategic partnership, up to 1,200 Game Plan athletes are eligible for scholarships across 11 different programs. In the two years since the partnership was announced, 11 Canadian athletes have joined the Smith alumni family. Another 49 are currently enrolled in graduate programs.

Scholarships cover all program fees associated with the full-time Queen’s MBA program, Accelerated MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA Americas, Master of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Master of Finance – Toronto, Master of International Business, Master of Management Analytics, Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence, Graduate Diploma in Business, Certificate in Business and Executive Education offerings.

Applications can be made through Game Plan, https://www.mygameplan.ca/resources/education. * Not all applicants receive a scholarship

Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto

Paralympic Athlete, Game Plan, Education, Canadian Olympic Committee, National Sport Organization, Deloitte, Olympic Athletes

Hurry Hard at CwRJ!

Back by popular demand – it’s time for Curl with a Rock Jock! The raging success of last year’s inaugural event is ready for a re-boot. On Thursday October 4th twenty-four corporate teams will pair up with an Olympian or Paralympian to play in a fun and (slightly) competitive bonspiel to raise money for the CSI Calgary and the Benson Concussion Institute (BCI).

Eight of the world’s best curlers will be on hand at the Glencoe Curling Club to coach bonspiel participants, including Kevin Koe, John Morris and Cheryl Bernard. If their coaching tips aren’t sufficient, players will be able to simply buy shots or sweeping from the experts to help them win. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that at the Olympics?

The event this year is once again sponsored by The Hearing Loss Clinic (HLC), a compassionate, forward-thinking hearing clinic with several locations across Southern Alberta & the East Kootenays.

HLC Managing Partner, Travis Rhodes, is thrilled to partner with the CSI Calgary and BCI for this event. In fact, because of their sponsorship of the event last year, the HLC team has expanded its services and is leading the way in the emerging field of concussion assessment and management in the audiology sector.

““High Performance Sport Audiology, including Concussion Assessment has become an integral part of our clinical scope of practice. Our Audiology – Concussion protocol is very thorough and amongst the leaders is this category,” explains Rhodes. Recently, the HLC Director of Audiology, Dr. Whitney Reaman, became dual certified in concussion assessment/management and vestibular rehabilitation, which is incredibly unique in the private practice Audiology field, and something that the HLC team are very proud of.

The HLC team helps athletes with the audiology portion of a concussion assessment, but they are extremely proud and passionate about serving a broad range of groups affected by hearing issues, including children, aging adults, athletes and musicians. Rhodes says they are proud to support the incredible work of CSI Calgary and the BCI and are honoured to be a part of a winning team devoted to continuing excellence. “We always lead with our hearts,” he says.

Money raised will provide athletes with services related to injury prevention, medical treatment, mental health and training requirements as well as support concussion research at BCI.

The event is already sold out but there is still time to bid on online auction items, including a Dinner for 10 at the Paintbox Lodge with Olympic Champion John Morris, $700 WestJet and $250 Fairmont Hotel gift cards and a corporate suite at the Saddledome on March 10, 2019 for an NHL game between the Calgary Flames and Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Three-time Olympian and 2006 bronze medalist in skeleton, Mellisa Hollingsworth, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s CwRJ. Hollingsworth was so inspired by last year’s event that she took up recreational curling in earnest and organized a similar event to raise money for the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta – raising fifty thousand dollars. “I became a complete curling nut,” she laughs. “It’s the most fun event I’ve ever been a part of.”

Now, hurry hard to help raise money for the CSI Calgary and BCI. But don’t let a biter keep you from gunning for the button, just watch out for the backline and hit that guard!


Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto

Community Engagement, Olympic Legacy

Kyle Shewfelt: One of a Kind

Legacy Link

After walking forty long blocks through downtown Calgary one afternoon in the fall of 2012, Kyle Shewfelt pondered a big question: ‘What am I doing?’

The 2004 Olympic gymnastics champion had just finished an interview with an executive search team, after years of dabbling in various post-retirement ventures like real estate, life coaching and teaching yoga. The interview was supposed to lead to a corporate job, one with security and predictability. But as soon as he left he knew something about the idea wasn’t right.

“During that walk I had to ask myself what I was doing,” recalls Shewfelt. “For four years after Beijing I was just floating, going from thing to thing. I didn’t have a focal point. I was lost and had no accountability.” Finding a place to land seemed like the right thing to do.

Still, an idea he’d had years earlier lingered in the back of his mind. Throughout his career Shewfelt admired many of the great American gymnasts, several of whom had opened their own gyms. “I looked up to these guys who had won Olympic gold and also created a legacy after their careers,” he says. He was inspired to one day open his own gym too.

He went so far as to declare the idea to long-time friend Krystal Boychuk at a house party when they were in their early twenties. “He turned to me and said, ‘I’m going to open a gym one day and you’re going to be my director,’” recalls Boychuk with a laugh. At the time she agreed wholeheartedly, not knowing that one day the deal would come to fruition.

Shewfelt wasn’t sure it would either and there were times when he seriously doubted his capacity to take the leap into entrepreneurship. “I wanted to open a gym, but I didn’t have the courage,” he confesses. “I didn’t know what it would take.”

Ultimately, his vision galvanized around a recurring memory from his days as a young, aspiring Olympian, training four hours every afternoon then coming home to eat and do his homework. He was extraordinarily meticulous and conscientious in his training and schoolwork, but once a month his gymnastics magazine subscription would arrive and at that moment, he dropped everything until he read it cover to cover.

That memory reminded Shewfelt of how much he loved gymnastics. “That wasn’t fake,” he exclaims. “The sport brought me so much joy and when I finally reconnected with that everything became very clear.”

By the end of his long walk Shewfelt, now 36, made the bold decision that would chart his life’s course – he was going to open his own gym. “I’m not a corporate guy,” he explains. “I needed to be my own boss. I was willing to push past the fear and I could see my future as that gym.”

With the vision in his mind he called Boychuk, who at the time was home raising her two young children. Within minutes they had a deal and from that point on Shewfelt dove full tilt into crafting a business plan, working sixteen hours a day to make it a reality.

After finding the perfect location in the spring of 2013, things got serious. Shewfelt secured funding and audited a number of entrepreneurship classes at Mount Royal University. Those experiences, he says, finally gave him the confidence to become an entrepreneur.

“I was successful in sport because I was willing to work harder than anyone, to do whatever it takes,” he says. “I’m the same in business.”

Less than a year after that fateful decision, Shewfelt opened his gym in south Calgary, Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics. It differs from other centres because the focus is purely recreational, something Shewfelt knew he wanted from the outset. “I did the competitive thing, I didn’t want that in my life,” he says. “I looked at the market and knew there were so many great competitive gyms in Calgary.”

Instead, Shewfelt sends those with competitive potential to other gyms and stays rooted in his grassroots approach to the sport. “By opening the gym, Kyle has created a space for everyone, all ages and abilities,” declares Boychuk, the gym’s Program Director. “That’s his legacy.”

Of course, Shewfelt’s legacy in gymnastics is widely known and admired. He’s the only Canadian Olympic medalist in the sport with a gold in the men’s floor exercise in 2004 and his heroic feat of coming back from breaking both his legs just eleven months prior to the 2008 Games in Beijing further cemented his position as one of Canada’s greatest, and grittiest, athletes of all time.

But now it’s his legacy as a community builder, entrepreneur, mentor, volunteer, husband and father that gets Shewfelt out of bed every morning.

He is keenly aware that what made him successful in sport is the same as what drives him in life today: a deep well of intrinsic motivation and an extraordinary degree of conscientiousness. What is perhaps most remarkable about Shewfelt though, is his boundless energy, enthusiasm and optimism that bubble over into every aspect of his life.

“He’s serious and very business savvy,” remarks Boychuk. “But he’s also a lot of fun! Sometimes he will just crank up the tunes in the office when we’re working and we’ll have a big dance party right in the middle of the day.” Adding, “He’s one a of kind.”

Shewfelt says he is perpetually chasing the best version of himself and has a keen self-awareness that guides his quest, recognizing he’s just about there. “I’ve reconnected with my purpose,” he says joyfully. “I feel that I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do.”

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

Olympic Games, Olympic Athletes

Finnian Young is Ready to Soar

When native Calgarian Finnian Young was in local ski racing lessons as a youngster he kept getting into trouble for doing too many jumps, which annoyed his coach. Instead of scolding him for his high-flying ways, his mother switched him to freestyle skiing instead.

Now Young, 19, is the newest member of Canada’s NextGen freestyle halfpipe team and his goals in the sport soar as high as he does. “I want to go to the top,” he says. “Olympics, X-Games. I’ve wanted to be a pro-skier since I was four or five years old.”

Young’s beginnings in the sport were typical for the youngest child – mostly chasing his two older brothers down the slopes. “I remember always trying to do their jumps. At the time my parents wanted me to stop doing that,” he laughs.

But it was clear early on that Young was meant to fly and no one was going to stop him. His brothers showed him the way and he was hooked. Once his competitive nature took hold, he progressed further in the sport. “I’m the one who took it to the next level,” he says.

Young honed his skills for seven years at the WinSport Academy, a snow sport centre for athlete development located at Canada Olympic Park. The Academy is designed to foster academics, athletic development, skill acquisition and social, emotional and cognitive development and it helps athletes progress to their national competition potential.

“The Academy has a really high-quality program,” says Young and he credits the program for providing access to the best facilities and with helping him progress so far in the sport.

Now that he’s on the NextGen team with Freestyle Canada, Finnian has access to CSI Calgary services. According to Miranda Sallis, CSI Calgary Manager of Performance Services, the team is well supported with the goal of helping athletes like Young make the National Team.

“The NextGen park and pipe team has a full Integrated Support Team (IST) around them funded by Freestyle Canada in partnership with the CSI Calgary,” explains Sallis. Adding, “They have adopted a very strong development pathway and are looking to accelerate these athletes to national rankings within the next two years.”

For now, Young is focused on making that leap, and he works as hard as he can, in and out of the pipe, to get there. He works full time in the summer at the WinSport rental shop, while also training there every day. “WinSport is pretty much my second home,” he jokes.

For a young athlete with such lofty goals, Young is a pretty laid-back guy. He loves what he’s doing, he’s focused on being the best and works hard to achieve that. “I’m an easy going, simple guy,” he says. “It doesn’t take much to make me happy.”

Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by: FreestyleCanada.Ski

WinSport, Integrated Support Team, NextGen, Ski Cross

Copyright © 2013 Canadian Sport Institute Calgary | All Rights Reserved | Photo Credit : Dave Holland