Sport has been such a positive facet of my life that it is hugely rewarding to know that I can do this for people.
Grace Quinn Cameron
Sport Development Manager
Water Polo Canada
The interview with Grace Quinn Cameron was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role as the Sport Development Manager of Water Polo Canada.
As the Sport Development Manager, I wear many hats for Water Polo Canada (WPC) to support the development of coaches, officials, clubs, Provincial Sport Organizations (PSO), and grassroots athletes.
I am responsible for the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) for coaches and for the Official Training and Certification Program (OTCP) for officials. This involves tasks such as coordinating the programs with members, clubs and PSOs, as well as developing/updating courses.
To help support the development of water polo clubs and PSOs, WPC has a Club Assistance Program that I administer. This program provides financial assistance and service support towards already existing grassroots and educational initiatives, and the development of new initiatives.
The progression of young water polo athletes also falls within my portfolio in the form of the management and oversight of water polo grassroots programs and Long Term Athlete Development, all with the collaboration and support of my colleagues.
Some of my other roles include membership management, event organization, and safe sport coordination, amongst others!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Due to the nature of my role at WPC, my daily routine varies considerably. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our office recently moved to a virtual setting. A day in the virtual office typically involves conversing with my colleagues over Slack, answering emails, attending Zoom meetings and managing various projects.
When pools are open and water polo games are being played, my weekends are full with water polo tournaments.
When was the point you realized that you were meant to do this career? Take us through that realization.
I’ve always loved playing sports; in elementary school, I joined every sports team that the school had to offer. As I grew older, my sporting life started to narrow as I focused on competitive swimming.
I pursued my passion for sports by studying Physical and Health Education for my undergraduate degree. After the first year of my studies, I completed an internship with the Montreal Alouettes in Football Operations. The Als gave me the unique opportunity to work with their front office staff. It was through working this amazing group of people that I realized that I was meant to work in sport management.
I continued spending my summers interning with professional football teams and then, after my undergraduate degree was complete, I moved into studying sports management for my Masters.
What are some of the biggest challenges that Water Polo Canada is currently facing? What measures is your organization or even more specifically within your role taking to overcome those challenges?
In March, WPC was faced with the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of the 2019-2020 National Championship League (NCL) season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCL is a national water polo league that brings domestic club age group programs together to compete under a countrywide umbrella. Within my role, I am working to support my colleagues, our PSOs and our clubs as much as possible to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on water polo.
I know you have a strong passion for sport and physical education, so for you to be working for an organization like Water Polo Canada, what are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role?
The most rewarding aspect of working for a National Sport Organization, like Water Polo Canada, is knowing that I am helping people have an opportunity to participate in sport.
Sport has been such a positive facet of my life that it is hugely rewarding to know that I can do this for people. A uniquely rewarding and challenging aspect of my role is the number of programs and projects in my portfolio. This provides me with a daily opportunity to hone my project management skills!
As a Masters of Human Kinetics graduate with a concentration in the Sport Management, why was it important for you to be educated at a masters level?
Completing my Masters in Sport Management allowed for me to study the field that I felt called to and afforded me an opportunity, through an internship that was integrated into the program, to gain hands-on experience in the field.
What are some aspects of working in sport, you didn’t necessarily learn during your time in school that you’ve acquired through experience in the field?
Something that I’ve had to learn on the fly through experience in the field is organizing and prioritizing my time while working on many projects simultaneously. This is a skill that is worked on during one’s studies, not necessarily taught, and is put to the test in the workforce!
What surprised you the most about starting a career in the sport industry? And what advice would you give students aspiring to study in this field?
What surprised me about starting my career in the sports industry is how small the industry is! I continuously cross paths with people in the industry at conferences and events.
I would advise students aspiring to study in the field of sport management to network and get as much experience in the field as possible, whether through a paid position, an internship or volunteering. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and reach out to sport organizations to see how you can get involved!
Hayley's Final Thoughts
As Grace mentioned in this interview, working for an NSO like Water Polo Canada (WPC) has been a huge reward. Grace has the ability to provide people with the opportunity to participate in sport which has proven to have intrinsic benefits. She works on many different projects which are equally rewarding as Grace is able to hone her skills and improve them even further. I admire Grace’s drive, especially with the many hats she wears within WPC! Despite the challenges WPC has faced due to COVID-19, Grace continues to support the organization and her colleagues. We know that when sports regain some normalcy, Grace will continue to be rewarded through the promotion of Water Polo!