Tell us about your role as the Sport Communications of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Although most of the projects that our Communications Team works on are team-based, I tend to focus more on communications that directly impact the National Sport Organizations and Communications projects that are directly related to the Olympic & Pan American Games.
I wouldn't say there is a standard 'typical' day for me in my role, as deliverables shift depending on what is going on in the Canadian sports environment.
That being said, projects I work on often are our daily 'Morning Brief' that includes important articles and press releases impacting the Canadian sports environment and the Olympic movement, managing the Media Attaché program for Olympic and Pan American Games, leading Team Announcements for Olympic and Pan American Games, ensuring proper processes are being followed for Games-related communications to the National Sport Organizations, coordinating and distributing press releases to our media distribution lists, and serving as a liaison between colleagues in our Games Planning and Sport Services departments and our Communications team.
As such, a 'typical' day for me in May 2021 during the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games looked very different than in February 2022 during the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, and still looks very different than July 2022 now that we are more than 1 year out from the next Games, which are the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.
2How would you describe the best part of your job and how would you describe the difficulties of your job?
The best part about my job is being able to help share the stories of our Team Canada athletes. Every single athlete has a very unique journey that they took to get to where they are, and in my opinion, the athletes' stories and the Olympic movement are so powerful and can inspire Canadians and sports fans around the world.
The work that my team does in helping to share these stories is incredibly rewarding to me.
For me personally, when an athlete is officially announced to Team Canada for an Olympic Games or Pan American Games, it's an extraordinary moment, and an accomplishment that should be celebrated and shared.
Ensuring that everything related to their Team Announcement, from their Team Canada headshot, their new piece of Team Canada clothing, the press release announcing them and their teammates, their Team Canada athlete bio on Olympic.ca, the opportunity to speak with media, etc., are all accounted for and executed to the highest standard for each and every athlete, feels so rewarding to me.
And then, of course, being able to support in sharing the stories of Team Canada athletes while on-site at the Olympic Games is truly an honour. Having the opportunity to witness Team Canada athletes accomplish personal bests, break Canadian records, or win Olympic medals, and serve as the team behind the team to share the news with everyone watching back at home, is truly an extraordinary part of my job.
During the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, I served as the Team Canada Media Attaché for the Nordic sports (Biathlon, Cross Country & Ski Jumping). I managed all the media requests for each Team Canada athlete competing in those sports, for pre-competition media availabilities, in the Mixed Zone after each of their races & events, and post-competition, as well as coordinating content capture for Olympic.ca & Team Canada social channels, and any appearances on the CBC or Radio-Canada broadcast.
It was a phenomenal opportunity. Being able to help share stories of the Nordic sport athletes was so rewarding.
In particular, managing the media circus after Team Canada’s historic, first-ever medal in Ski Jumping, which was a bronze in the inaugural Mixed Team event, was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in my role at the COC thus far.
Seeing first-hand the joy and pride of the athletes, their coaches, Ski Jumping Canada, and the entire Canadian Olympic Team, and supporting them through all of the medallist protocol and media requests was truly an honour.
The most challenging part of my job could be trying to keep a work-life balance during the intense final months of preparation before the Games.
My job can quickly take over every waking minute during those last months, so it's challenging to try and balance the importance and urgency of Games prep with the other aspects of my day-to-day life.
3How has your previous role in Team Canada at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics helped you in your current position?
Working at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games was an incredible experience. I was a Team Canada Media Attaché for the Canadian Biathlon, Cross Country & Ski Jumping teams, and it was an excellent opportunity.
I learned so much about the inner workings of Olympic media and everything that goes into being able to tell the Games' stories to the public while supporting the athletes to ensure media commitments don't become a distraction.
This experience was precious for my development in sports communications here at the Canadian Olympic Committee, and I look forward to continuing to work in this field at future Games.
There were no international fans at Beijing 2022 and less media on the ground (due to the pandemic) than we expect for Paris 2024 and Milano-Cortina 2026, so I'm very much looking forward to the challenge Paris & Milano-Cortina will bring.
4How has your degree in heath studies & political science from McMaster helped in your current position?
I graduated with a degree entirely unrelated to the work I currently do. Still, the foundations of writing and how to communicate effectively have certainly helped me in my current position.
I studied health studies & political science because those fields interested me, but the overall content of the courses I took didn’t necessarily translate to the sports communication field.
I’ve learned a lot on the job by saying yes to every opportunity to support a colleague on a project.
I think that shows that there are many different paths we can take to end up at a dream job. To thrive in your career, it’s more important to be passionate about what you do than to follow a career path that you studied in school.
If you are genuinely passionate about working in a specific field, you can forge your path to reach your desired career.
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Tara MacBournie, Sports Communications at Canadian Olympic Committee, believes that sharing the stories of Team Canada has a unique take. Tara focuses her time on Communication projects related to Olympic and Pan American Games. Tara's experience as a part of Team Canada at the Beijing 2022 brings her full circle to comprehending her job. Her work with Canadian Olympic Committee spans over three years, demonstrating her commitment and passion for Winter Games.