Following Women’s Basketball’s Success in Building a Well-Aligned Sport Pathway in Ontario
It’s a three-way performance partnership that has seen great dividends in the past five years. Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), Ontario Basketball Association, and Canada Basketball have worked closely together to execute on a high performance plan that provides comprehensive services and support to targeted female basketball athletes. From supporting key high performance technical staff to supporting the ground-breaking OSBA (Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association) League, the partnership has addressed system gaps and optimized the pathway for Ontario athletes. Aligning and integrating the sport science and sport medicine support that the provincial and national women’s basketball programs receive has also been a milestone accomplishment. From provincially identified athletes to Senior National Team members, CSIO has been a key contributor to women’s basketball in Canada.
No words can be truer than with four members of the 2019 Pan Am Games Team - Hailey Brown (Hamilton, ON), Hanna Hall (Hamilton, ON), Alyssa Jerome (Toronto, ON), and Shaina Pellington (Pickering, ON). These four athletes are the first women’s basketball graduates of CSIO’s Ontario High Performance Sport Initiative (OHPSI) Program to reach the Women’s Senior National Team.
In 2014, Ontario Basketball Association’s Women’s Basketball program, in partnership with Canada Basketball, was accepted into CSIO’s OHPSI Program. The OHPSI program strives to develop an integrated high performance sport pathway in Ontario with partnerships with National and Provincial Sport Organizations, through funding provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. OHPSI provides high performance sport leadership, coaching support, sport science and sport medicine services, competition and training support, and equipment and facility access to create an optimal daily training environment (DTE) for Ontario’s high performance athletes and coaches.
Through the OHPSI program, a group of the Ontario’s top identified female basketball players annually participate in a series of camps from August to March. The kick-off 3-day camp includes athlete medicals and blood work with CSIO physicians, physical testing and strength and conditioning programming with CSIO Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach, Ed McNeely; physiotherapy support from CSIO Physiotherapist Meghan Buttle; and nutrition workshops with CSIO Nutritionists Christine St. Clair and Melissa Kazan. The athletes return to CSIO for 1-day check-in camps 2-4 times per year.
In addition to attending these camps while part of the OHPSI program, Hailey, Hanna, and Shaina received ongoing support provided to them in their high school’s DTE. This included CSIO staff visiting their schools to meet with their coaches, therapists and strength and conditioning coaches to ensure that their school program aligned with their development needs and supported their participation in Canada Basketball’s Junior and Cadette Team national programs.
Alyssa took a slightly different path. Opting to remain at her local high school, Alyssa received one-on-one strength and conditioning support with Ed three times a week for her final year of school before signing to play for Stanford in the NCAA. The one-on-one support included training at CSIO twice per week and at Ryerson University once a week. She also received individual therapy from Meghan. Alyssa’s on court talent allowed her to train with the Senior National Team at the young age of 17.
OHPSI investment has also been used to support Women’s Basketball Technical Lead, Agnes Borg. Agnes is a key staff member at Ontario Basketball overseeing the women’s high performance program and Team Ontario. Agnes also has a joint role with Canada Basketball as the Manager, Youth Player Development. This dual role allows her to serve as a primary liaison between CSIO, Ontario Basketball, and Canada Basketball, along with Canada Basketball’s Mike McKay (Performance Manager, Women’s High Performance). The alignment between the Provincial Sport Organization and the National Sport Organization is best in class, ensuring continuity between the services and programming support that the athletes receive throughout their pathway development, from provincially identified athlete to Senior National Team members.
“The achievements of Hailey, Hanna, Alyssa and Shaina are a testament to the strength of CSIO’s Ontario High Performance Sport Initiative Program,” said Lindsay Walsh, Director of Basketball Development at Ontario Basketball. “CSIO and OHPSI have provided the one-on-one support and guidance necessary for these targeted athletes to reach the highest stages of competition, such as the upcoming Pan Am Games in Peru. Additionally, the support from CSIO for our high performance staff and the OSBA, and their attention to continued alignment with Canada Basketball, help us to ensure that more potential Women’s National Team athletes have the opportunity to grow and develop as basketball players while staying close to home and competing in Ontario.”
Further aligning the provincial and national women’s basketball programs, CSIO, in partnership with Canada Basketball, hired Sport Scientist Lauren Buschmann as the Women’s Basketball IST Manager in 2016. In her role, Lauren manages the Integrated Support Team (IST) of sport science and sport medicine practitioners working with women’s basketball in order to achieve a holistic and integrated approach to athlete development. Lauren supports the athletes, coaching staff, and technical leaders by coordinating sport science support including communication, monitoring, and programming for the Senior National Team when traveling and competing for Canada, as well as when they are abroad playing professionally or in the NCAA. She uses data analysis and metrics to monitor and assess the progress of the players, as well as visits the NCAA schools to check-in with players in-person throughout the school year. Lauren also coordinates the sport science programming for athletes when they are outside of their school or professional season.
“Our partnership and alignment with CSIO and Ontario Basketball has been extremely beneficial over the past few years in making a positive impact on our women’s high performance program as seen by the improvements in our athletes,” said Denise Dignard, Director, Women’s High Performance, Canada Basketball. “The CSIO sport science and sport medicine staff are world-class and truly care about the long-term development and well-being of the athletes under their care and for this we are extremely grateful.”
This close connection between CSIO, Ontario Basketball, and Canada Basketball allows for a unique opportunity - CSIO’s practitioners can try new and innovative programming with the OHPSI athletes before implementation with the Senior National Team. During their OHPSI years, Hanna, Hailey, Alyssa, Shaina, and their fellow OHPSI program athletes (past and present) were able to test new approaches to training, allowing CSIO practitioners and coaching staff to see what worked and what didn’t work before adopting it in the Senior National Team space.
Coaching the 2019 Pan Am Games Team is Women’s Head Coach Steve Baur, who is a recent graduate of the Advanced Coaching Diploma delivered by CSIO.
As Hanna, Hailey, Alyssa, and Shaina get ready to take the court at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, the future of women’s basketball in Ontario and Canada is brightly aligned.
About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing world-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes and coaches to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. CSIO offers athletes a range of sport science and sport medicine services including nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, strength & conditioning, mental performance, sport therapy and life services. CSIO also delivers programming and services to National and Provincial Sport Organizations and coaches to work towards building a stronger sport system in Ontario and Canada.
CSIO services approximately 700 high performance athletes and 250 coaches, at its main facility at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, its satellite location at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, and in daily training environments across Ontario. CSIO is part of a larger network of 4 institutes and 3 multi-sport centres across the country known as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. CSIO is further supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada, along with the National and Provincial Sport Organizations within the sector. www.csiontario.ca
Photo: FIBA / Canada Basketball
Shaina #5, Alyssa #9, Hailey #8, Hanna #4