CSSHL Wraps Up Aimability Life and Citizenship Series

For the second straight season, the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) partnered with Aimability for our Life and Citizenship Series.

As we strive “to be National Leaders in Education-Based Hockey” the CSSHL works with its members to teach the life lessons that will make all of our student athletes successful in whatever career or hockey path they take.  As part of that process, all of our members are required to deliver yearly education topics to all of their student athletes and we are happy Aimability returned for the 2022/23 season to deliver those topics.

The Life and Citizenship Series is a seven-part, league-wide webinar series encompassing a diverse set of skills and values contributing to the short and long-term development of the CSSHL community. Aimability facilitated seven separate presentations with some of the top experts in the respective topics below:

  • Character Building and Respect in Sport
  • Drugs, Alcohol and Vaping
  • Racism and Diversity in Sport
  • Mental Health and Performance
  • Digital Ethics and Internet Safety
  • Gender Identity and Expression
  • Sexual Misconduct and Harassment

“Aimability is equipped with some of the best professionals the sports world has to offer and these presentations provide all of our student-athletes and coaches with a wealth of knowledge and understanding,” said CSSHL Chief Operating Officer Kevin Goodwin.

Aimability was founded by former NHL player Kris Beech in 2017. The Aimability team consists of some of the best doctors, health professionals, mentors and educators the sports world has to offer.

“I think there was a gap in understanding how important the other side of it is. The other side of the game; things that are outside of being on the ice or being in practice or being in the gym. I wanted to provide a service where first and foremost, it needs to be communicated that these things are important for having success and doing it in a healthy way, and then also providing the people that could provide that support network for other individuals,” said Beech.

“Aimability harnesses the elite athlete privilege and connects people with high-level performance and health professionals to maximize potential, enjoyment, and growth opportunities. Our mission is to provide a support network for life, where everyone has the best chance to succeed in their purpose,” added Beech.

Some of the Aimability professionals who were part of the Life and Citizenship series include Derek Covington, Tyler Smith and Travis Thomas.

Covington’s career spans twenty years and nine Olympic Games, most recently as the Director of Olympic Performance for the Canadian Olympic Committee.

As part of the Mental Health and Performance presentation, Covington mentioned “some of the challenges that you might encounter as a younger athlete are the same kind of challenges that you would find even as a professional athlete, things like overthinking and anxiousness.”

“There are some skills that you can build your inner game or the mental game that can help you show up as a better player on and off the ice. Let’s rebuild your focus and resilience, and stuff like that. The inevitable ups and downs and curveballs of hockey career but also of life as well. That to me is no different than going to the gym for a physical workout,” added Covington.

“I should commend the CSSHL for taking the leadership to offer this kind of programming to their entire membership. I think it’s important when you talk about creating an environment for growth and learning. It’s not just about hockey technical skills. It’s around life skills,” said Covington.

A former Humboldt Bronco and survivor of the Humboldt bus accident in 2018, Smith is a public speaker, the co-host of Speak Your Mind podcast, an ambassador for Kids Sport Alberta and the founder of Not Alone whose goal is to help people initiate tough, meaningful conversations around mental health.

“Mental health is a journey and being able to get to a place where you can embrace that journey and not rush it is so important. I think, unfortunately, we diminish our stories because sometimes we don’t think we have been through enough. And I think that’s another thing that I really always want to touch on is, at the end of the day, we all put our pants on the same way,” said Smith.

Overall, Covington and Smith focused on topics such as:

  • Ending the stigma
  • Mental health is Health
  • How to be proactive with Emotional Health
  • Nutrition for mental health
  • Developing consistent confidence

“This is a good way to ground these student-athletes from time to time. It’s constantly a go, go go world and being able to shift our perspectives every once in a while, and think about something that we don’t normally think about. I’ve learned over these past couple of years that you just never know when somebody needs to see something or hear something,” said Smith. “Whether it’s the financial world, whether it’s a diet world, whether it’s the mental health world, you just really never know when that one kid in the audience or that team in the audience needs to hear something that’s going to resonate, that’s going to click.”

“I think that’s what I find so profound about a series like this is we’re able to come together and touch on a bunch of different topics and ideas that maybe we don’t normally talk about on a week-to-week basis during the season, but being able to, once again, have that moment of reflection and have that moment where it’s like, ‘Okay, like this is something that we need to implement, and this is something that can help us,’” added Smith.

Thomas is a performance coach who specializes in mindset, leadership, culture, and team dynamics. He has worked with many youth, college, and professional sports teams in the United States for the past 10 years. He is currently on staff as the Leadership and Team Dynamics Coach for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, spending the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with the team.

“As someone who has worked in youth sports for over 20 years and continues to work in youth sports, I see it as a huge void that most youth sports organizations fall flat on. And it’s not from a lack of caring. I think a lot of times it’s the lack of knowing how to best present and teach and focus these skills. But I also believe organizationally, as sporting organizations we need to recognize the value in it, and we need to make it a priority. And by the CSSHL doing series, that is a testament of investing in this, by making this a priority,” said Thomas.

Thomas was part of the Character Building and Respect in Sport Presentation that focused on:

  • Being a good teammate or classmate
    • Knowing the boundaries harmless fun and bullying
    • Recognising that everyone has value for the team and more importantly outside of the sport as a human being
    • Collaboration over competition amongst teammates
  • Positively motivated by the success of your teammates
  • Sportsmanship – Respect for:
    • Opponents – gratitude for the competition they provide
    • Officials
    • Coaches
    • Facilities

“My portion of the session really focused on the character in the sportsmanship side of athletics, and specifically, what are some of the skills and values beyond the athletic side of things that allow players to perform at a high level individually as well as the skills and values that go into being a good teammate. And as a leadership coach and as a performance coach that works with youth, college and professional athletes, we often get distracted with the physical ability that we don’t always emphasize and nurture, and teach some of those skills and values that are, in many cases, more important than just the physical and athletic gifts,” said Thomas.

Other Life and Citizenship Series Presentations included:

  • Digital Ethics and Internet Safety
    • What are the positives vs negatives?
    • How the technology works
    • Psychology of the design
    • Attention economy
    • Addiction
    • Privacy Invasion
    • Long-term effect on social skills
    • Effect on family life
    • Thinking critically – facts vs fiction
    • Criminal usage of social media
  • Racism and Diversity in Sport
    • Cultural differences
    • History
    • Acceptance
    • Family perspective
    • Diversity in Sport
    • Negative effects on mental health of the target of racism
  • Drugs/Alcohol and Vaping
    • Anti-doping
      • Health risks
      • Ethical and sportsmanship
    • Illicit drugs
      • Health risks
      • Addiction
      • Physiological, Psychological, and cognitive detriments to training, competition, and study
    • Alcohol and Marijuana
      • Health risks
      • Addiction
      • Signs of having a negative effect on a person’s life
      • Physiological, psychological, and cognitive detriments to training, competition, and study
  • Gender Identity and Expression
      • Understanding the difference between a person’s sex vs gender identity
      • Definitions of the diverse types of Gender
      • Acceptance and inclusion
      • Recognizing Mental health vulnerability from:
        • Feeling “different” or separate from your peers or society
        • Being bullied because of you gender identity
        • Pressure to suppress or reject feelings concerning gender identity
        • Fear or anxiety about not being accepted by loved ones or peers.
        • Fear or anxiety of being rejected by loved ones or peers
        • Pressure to conform to biological sex
  • Sexual Misconduct and Harassment
      • Sexual violence: assault and harassment
      • The #MeToo movement
      • The harms of toxic masculinity
      • Rape culture
      • Victim blaming
      • Consent education

The CSSHL tracks and monitors all player participation and digital attendance is a league requirement in order to be eligible to play in any league games.

As we strive “to be National Leaders in Education-Based Hockey” the CSSHL is continually looking to be leaders on and off the ice regarding player education and promoting positive hockey culture.