Photo: Covy Moore/CovyMoore.com
CALGARY, Alberta — This is the fifth piece of a series this season, presented by COWBOY SH*T™️, transitioning into spring of 2021. It features a number of the key players in western sports in Canada and beyond, looking forward through the Covid-19 pandemic and a hopeful return to normalcy in the coming months.
TED STOVIN: How did the idea of the Spring Training come to be? Who all was involved in making this happen?
BRANDON THOME: The idea for the training camp stems from strategic goals the Sport Medicine Association has with a focus on rodeo athlete development and preparation. The organization has spent over 30 years being a leader in athlete care and the team of practitioners works on a model that is inter-disciplinary in the approach to athlete care. We have worked for years with top professionals in strength and conditioning, diet and mental preparation but in the future we want to ensure that it is a regular part of our approach. That being said as a board member for our organization, Kynan Vine came with an idea that hosting a spring training camp would be a great way to kick off this initiative and to help the athletes prepare for the season. We have lots of conversations around injury prevention and preparation and this is just one of the many ways our organization is working to help prepare the rodeo athletes for a return to competition.
TS: What all is involved for the athletes?
BT: We already have many CPRA and PBR members signed up including bull riders, bull fighters, bareback riders and a couple in most of the rodeo events. That is what we want with this is for everyone in any event to come and participate.
TS: Who are the instructors and clinicians? Tell us about their background and work in other pro sports.
BT: We have assembled some of the top coaches in the sports industry and are working with Acumen on developing the program for the weekend. Mike Kicia is one of our strength and conditioning coaches who has over a decade in professional sports and has spent the majority of that time with the New York Yankees player development program. Mike is just one example of the many great people involved. Our full team of practitioners will also be on hand to do health and fitness evaluations as part of the weekend. Along with the physical evaluations and training we have assembled some other speakers and instructors who will help each athlete develop individualized plans for both their mental and physical preparation.
TS: How many spots are left to fill? Last I saw you had five left.
Will there be a component that people can pay to watch live? Just a few spots left but will potentially open another weekend should there be the need.
TS: Why is it only for CPRA and PBR members at this time?
BT: Are there plans to add more people and organizations in the future? Currently we have partnerships with PBR Canada and the CPRA and we wanted to offer this first to our partner organizations. We wanted to offer this as an opportunity for professional athletes to prepare for the season since rodeo has not been available at professional level in Canada for almost a year. We have had conversations with organizations such as the BRC and FCA, we are looking at what else we can do for those groups. As we said this is just the beginning of our overall strategy. This is by no means a short term plan.
TS: What is there for a program for those who cannot attend?
BT: Is this something that can be a virtual class that happens weekly or more often to continue the fitness and nutritional education? For right now we will focus on this event and getting it off the ground. Athletes who attend will have access to those coaches and professionals after the fact to work with them as they see fit. This is meant to become a resource for rodeo athletes so we are in the stages of building that out.
TS: Is there a plan to add more of these events moving forward? More of them more often?
BT: For sure.
TS: What does it take to put together an event of this magnitude?
BT: Conversations around programs like this and concepts that will have a lasting impact on the sport have been happening for years. Conversations on what role Sport Medicine will play when rodeo gets going again, have been happening for months and the planning and preparation for an event like this takes hundreds of man hours. No one knows these rodeo athletes better than the CPRSMT does. We have been caring for them since most of them were in Jr Rodeo. I am in constant contact with rodeo athletes on a daily basis and some are as young as 12 years old. But that’s when we start working with them. We knew that if it was going to be done properly and with the best intentions in mind for the rodeo athletes then we are the group that needs to lead it. When Kynan came with this idea, I knew this was what had to be done. Through our connections with sports top professionals in every field we have been able to pull together a program that will rival any other training camp in professional sport. Being a not for profit organization allows us the ability to work with partners and gain a sense of trust within the industry because we have nothing to gain from doing this. Our only goal is to see the athletes be successful and in turn see rodeo be successful.
TS: Is one weekend enough for training for these athletes when most planned events are still a ways out?
BT: The weekend of training and evaluations is only the beginning for those who take part in the program. Of course the longer we can have the athletes the more they will learn and train, however we need to start somewhere and with Covid rules in place we need to be mindful of that. As stated previously, this is only the beginning of what we plan to build this into.
TS: Brandon, what is your involvement in this event?
BT: As the Executive Director for the Sport Medicine Association, I am responsible for the operations of the organization. I have had the opportunity to take this concept and develop the plan to make the event happen. I am leading the team of instructors as well as practitioners to execute the event. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this event. It is something that I believe will help our organization move into the next generation of the sport. I am just glad I can use my connections and my knowledge to help put this thing together.
TS: The golf tournament has been pushed back until November, are there any other fundraising events in the works?
BT: September. But yes we will likely work on some additional fundraising initiatives this summer.
TS: Tell us about the current status of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team.
BT: We have a dedicated group of practitioners and volunteers. Our board has some great leadership and business acumen. I don’t know that we have ever been in a better position to move into the future.
TS: Who all is on the board and how are they voted on?
BT: If anyone would like to visit our website the board members and their bios are listed on there. I would encourage anyone who wants to follow us a little closer to check us out on our site and our social media.
TS: What is the funding structure and what does it cost to run the CPRSMT on an off year like 2020?
BT: We are mainly a cost to operate model so this past year has not had a serious effect on our bottom line. We also had a successful Golf Tournament despite the situation so that helps. We have also received some great support from our partners at Rodeo Cowboys Benevolent Foundation with a new truck this year which is the third truck we have received from them. That is a huge help from a financial perspective.
TS: What are the plans of the CPRSMT moving forward? I’m curious how many more events the team can get to. Covering everything in the CPRA must be the next step now that the PBR in Canada is covered? What does it take from here?
BT: Of course the more events we can get to the more athletes we can help. We have also taken the mandate that we wanted to be at one rodeo every rodeo weekend in the CPRA. We are always constantly striving to bring in more practitioners that fit with our model and mind set so that we can continue to move forward.
TS: How much impact has the Ty Pozzobon Foundation helped the CPRSMT in the past four years? How do they help?
BT: From an education and service perspective The Ty Pozzobon Foundation has been huge over the past four years. With their help and funding we have been able to become a mainstay at all PBR events and we have been able to build our concussion and mental health piece even further than we have had before. Their support both financially as well as their resources has allowed us to continue to move forward as an organization.
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