Monday, August 23, 2004 - Latest News
Letter from Tom McCarthy: Athlete Representation and Communication

By: Tom McCarthy

Date: August 19, 2004
To: Athletes registered with Cross Country Canada
From: Tom McCarthy, CCC Board of Directors
Re: Athlete representation and communication within Cross Country Canada

Dear Athletes,

I hope your training so far this summer has been going well.

As some of you may be aware, Cross Country Canada has a new governance structure (in other words, it has a new way of making strategic decisions). This new governance structure involves a Board of Directors with what is known as an athlete director.† Iím the athlete director, and so I thought I might share a few thoughts with you about what I do, how I may be able to help you, and how athletes can communicate with Cross Country Canada.

Iíll start by discussing why athletes might want to communicate with Cross Country Canada.† To begin with, CCC considers itself athlete-centred.† In practice, this means that everything CCC does should be guided by what is ultimately best for its athletes.† This seems at first straightforward, but it quickly becomes complicated.† CCCís athletes (Iím talking about everyone who owns a CCC racing license) come from all over the country, range from very young to not-so-young, and race at levels from club races to the Olympic Games.† With such a wide variety of athletes, it is obvious that not every athlete will always be completely satisfied with every CCC action.† Balancing the needs of all athletes is a very complicated job, but it is a job that CCC tries very hard to do well.† Nevertheless, there are always questions that arise.† This is where I can try to help.

As the athlete director, one important part of my role is to bring an athlete perspective to the CCC board of directors. This basically means I am to help CCC make strategic decisions, using my experience and reflections as an athlete. I speak as an athlete who has never been on the National Ski Team, but who has raced at every other level- club, provincial, university, and training center.† Another important part of my job as athlete director is to help athletes communicate with Cross Country Canada, and to help answer any questions you as an athlete might have.

I should say, though, that my role is not intended to be as an athlete representative.† Representation involves bringing a point of view or opinion held by one group (ie athletes) to the attention of a second group (ie CCC).† This is not my job.† You, as an athlete, should already have an athlete representative, someone you can speak to if you have problems or concerns you do not feel your coach or team manager can resolve.† The National Ski Team has a team representative; National Training Centres have athlete representatives; each province has an athlete representative.† It is important that I am not an athlete representative because one of the main reasons this new governance structure was put into practice is so no board member would be trapped by one perspective.† It is important, therefore, that my job not be to defend athleteís interests, but rather to speak as an athlete.

The goal of this letter is to offer my help as someone who can help athletes communicate with Cross Country Canada and find answers to difficult questions.† Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions.† The easiest way to get in touch is by e-mail, at .† Iím happy to talk over the phone, but I donít have a steady phone number, so e-mail me to get in touch.

Good luck with training and racing this coming year,

Tom McCarthy

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