1Tell us about your role as CEO at Slo-Pitch Ontario. What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, that has sure evolved over the years!
Many would think we would only be busy during the months of ball season, and in the early years of the Association, to a degree that certainly was true - registration for leagues and tournaments typically started right around the first day of Spring each year after mailing out information and getting it mailed back to us.
Now, it really is almost 365 days a year. Ordering awards and merchandise a year ahead of when you need it, email and social media, the ability to reach far more people across the Province far more quickly.
Online registration usually starts before February 1st each year - and even earlier with ones that are eager to get going and already looking ahead to the season.
So while I may be in meetings or on calls often throughout a week, scheduling and planning events, I oversee the day-to-day operations of the Association on behalf of our Board of Directors and just meet whatever challenge each day brings.
Some days it’s just putting out fires, other days it’s a roundtable of discussions and collaborating as we work to develop and grow the game.
We strive to provide a steady stream of information to our league directors, umpires, tournament directors, team contacts, players and our corporate partners to help with local programs.
It’s important to touch base and communicate personally with each of them to ensure they have what they need and to foster the partnerships we have with each, some going back decades.
That’s how we look at it - as a partnership to help them with what they need and, again, to help grow the sport.
2You have had great success as CEO at Slo-Pitch Ontario, providing essential services such as league management, tournament management, website management and Provincial Championships for over 30 years! What are the main skills that you use to ensure that you are performing to your fullest potential in the role of CEO?
That’s a great question. I think the main skills I use and that our Association uses would be listening and looking, and probably a bit of going with your gut.
I like meeting face-to-face with people, loved the days of a handshake to seal a deal, and of approaching things honestly, with good intentions.
Meeting with someone gives you more of a sense of what a person is and how you can work together to benefit others.
If you listen to find what might be needed and look to see the need, good things can happen.
We are lucky as an Association to have a great bunch of people who have been together, for the most part, for almost 15-20 years, who all love the game and, truthfully, we act almost like a family.
Having a great team alongside you, I feel helps everyone to reach their full potential, including the Association.
3What would you say are your 3 secrets to success?
I think the 3 secrets to success in anything are surrounding yourself with great people who you trust and who trust you, to love what you do, and to not be afraid of taking chances.
For me, I took a chance over 30 years ago to take on this role in a city eight hours away from my hometown, and to be more involved in a sport that I loved that I had played for years with my father, and with friends and teammates that I’m still friends with to this day.
I do love my job and working each day with a great team. We believe in each other and work well together.
4It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the sport industry operates. How has this impacted your role as CEO?
It certainly has had a tremendous impact when you are cognizant of considering decisions that can impact not just the survival of the Association and the sport of slo-pitch softball, but the responsibility you feel towards employees, and members of the Board and corporate partners, like facilities and suppliers and their employees.
There has been an incredible amount of information to process and relay, literally hundreds of Zoom calls and conference calls and a lot of self-imposed pressure to remain calm and steadfast and reassuring when so many may be looking towards you needing information or reassurance.
Back to your first question when I said about being busy during the whole year, there were no events last year at all and I was the busiest I have ever been.
5Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes it’s brought to the industry, what new and innovative communication skills or strategies have you employed as CEO?
Funnily enough, I had first learned of the Zoom technology just two weeks before the global pandemic was declared, and then went on to having 5-10 Zoom meetings a week shortly thereafter.
We used Zoom calls to communicate with the Board, our Leagues across the Province, and even the teams that play in our more competitive programs.
We were able to set up the ability to work from home for staff if they wanted that option and physical distancing for when in the office.
Because we are like a family, everyone was, and still is, comfortable that we all take precautions to protect ourselves and our bubble.