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