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Press Release

SPARC Initiative Receives Over $55,000 in Funding Grants

CSIO logo on black background.


TORONTO (September 29, 2022) – The Sport Assessment and Research Combine (SPARC), an innovative multidisciplinary initiative between York University, Ontario Tech University, and Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), recently received over $55,000 in funding grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

The first grant is a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant to support the development of SPARC and the Sport Science Bridge. This 1-year grant with a funding value of $25,000, will further the collaboration and knowledge sharing between the research team, CSIO, and participating sport organizations – their coaches, technical leaders, and practitioners, in support of youth athlete success.

The second grant is a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to support the collection and analysis of the cognitive combine. This is a 2-year grant, with total funding over $33,000 and will examine the role of executive function and psychological characteristics for youth athletes.

The SPARC initiative works closely with sport organizations that are part of CSIO’s Ontario High Performance Initiative (OHPSI) program. By engaging the coaches, technical leaders, and athletes identified through OHPSI, researchers are able to examine the unique psychological, cognitive, and physical characteristics that youth athletes bring to their sport and develop over time.

The knowledge gained by the research team will provide the foundation for tracking long-term athlete development and optimizing athlete potential for national team and international podium success. By bringing leading researchers and coaches and technical leaders together, it will also promote the faster dissemination of emerging research into coaching practice.

The SPARC research team is a collaboration between researchers from York University – Dr. Joe Baker, Dr. Magdalena Wojtowicz, and Dr. Kathryn Robinson; Ontario Tech University – Dr. Nick Wattie; and the Performance Pathways and Research staff at CSIO.



 “As CSIO strives to elevate people and performances, we’re looking to support sports in traditional and non-traditional areas that impact performance objectives. Targeting athletes in the performance pathway and learning more about them as human beings will allow us to feed forward information to sports on talent identification, athlete selection criteria, and talent transfer opportunities. SPARC will enable us to make better use of the fantastic athletes Ontario has in the sport system and maximize their potential to reach international podium success.”

James Brough, Director, Performance Pathways
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

 “This is an exciting initiative that brings together researchers and sport leaders from diverse backgrounds. Our goal is to keep youth athletes in sport and support them in their development by using rigorous research paradigms and working collaboratively from the ground up.”

Magdalena Wojtowicz, PhD, C.Psych
York University

“Working with CSIO and OHPSI on these projects ensures that the research team is exploring issues and concerns that are important for practitioners as well as researchers. Ultimately, this will result in better evidence to support everything from the daily training environments to models and policy for athlete development.”

Joe Baker, PhD
York University



Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing best-in-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes, coaches, and National and Provincial Sport Organizations to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. Our team of expert staff deliver sport science, sport medicine, life services, and coaching and technical leadership support to help Canada win medals and strengthen the sport system in Ontario and Canada. CSIO is part of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada. CSIO is further supported by funding partners such as the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport and Sport Canada.


Laura Albright, Senior Advisor, Communications & Marketing
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Tel: 647.395.7536
Email: [email protected]