Caption: Ultimate Frisbee Class, OCdts asking the Class Leaders questions about what to expect with the first drill.

Development Period II – Sport as a Vehicle of Developing Leadership Skills

By Kelly Lupton, PE Manager, RMCC

Second part of a four part series

Both followership and leadership are critical traits for Officers in the Canadian Forces. The Physical Education (PE) program continually strives to contribute to their development in Officer Cadets. With the new first year PE program under their belts (see e-Veritas Issue 42), the second year PE Curriculum strives to look beyond the “self” and personal fitness, and begins to develop the OCdts as both effective followers and leaders. One of the best environments to make this happen, where character is exposed, is in sport. RMCC’s Collective Sports Coordinator and PE Teacher, Kara Mazerolle, explains, “By participating in sport OCdts will have improved self-esteem, confidence, coping and conflict resolution skills. All traits that will help pave the path towards their leadership potential”. Specifically in reference to the new Second Year PE program, she adds, “this sports curriculum will establish a positive attitude for the importance of living an active lifestyle and they will not only be capable of promoting sports to their units/squadron/platoons, they will also have a solid foundation of the rules and spirit of the game”.

There are two main goals for this second year of development. The first is to provide a varied and exciting sport program that allows OCdts to gain a solid foundation in sport rules and skills. As such, each Officer Cadet registers for both a fall and winter sport class. Each sport class will expose them to 2 different sports over each 12 week term. The sport options are varied and were selected knowing they would be supporting both the Intramural and CF Sports programs. They include; stick sports (ball hockey and broomball), field sports (lacrosse, soccer, ultimate Frisbee), court sports (volleyball and basketball), racquet sports (badminton and squash), and aquatic sports (water polo and triathlon). Thanks to the new Kingston Military Community Sports Dome, the field sports classes are enhanced significantly and can now be run for both terms.

When Kara Mazerolle was asked what she felt was the most exciting part of the changes to the second year curriculum she said, “I think our capability of offering so many options to the II year program is what makes it exciting. The OCdts have the opportunity to learn about four different sports throughout the school year if they choose. They not only can register for sports that they already know they like, but also have the opportunity to try something totally new.”

Caption: Lacrosse Class, Class Leader leading pushups for in the warm-up, ensure proper form is being maintained.

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The second goal of the second year PE program is to provide the OCdts with a safe and positive environment where they can practice leading a sport or PT session in preparation for their third year assessment (a requirement in the CTP when in third year). As such, all OCdts must act as “Class Leader” for at least 1 class in a given PE term. This is a significant addition to the delivery of the program because, under the supervision of the PE teacher, the Class Leader is required to take on a true leadership role within the sports session. Specifically, OCdts, under the mentorship of their PE teacher, are expected to form up the class, deal with any administration (dress, attendance, assign roles for people on medical chit, etc), explain how the session will be delivered, lead an effective warm up, organize games, lead an effective cool down, and appropriately dismiss the group. Within the class, as the subject matter expert, the PE teacher takes over the reins for 30-40 minutes to deliver the required skills and knowledge component of each class. When asked how this new concept was rolling out in class, and how the OCdts were performing, Kara said, “I think it has been going very well. Each student has their own comfort zone. For some it has been very challenging to stand in front of their peers and give clear instruction. Many of the OCdts are quickly learning that it is an important skill to acquire which will develop with practice and constructive feedback from both their instructor and peers.”

The PE Department is excited to roll out this new second year curriculum in support of the changes within the new CTP. The new format of teaching 2 sports per term, the format of pairing up the “like” sports, and the joy of being able to mentor and support the OCdts in learning how to be comfortable to lead military personnel in a sport or PT session is very rewarding.

After all is said and done, the following quote from Kara summarizes it best, “While with many things that happen at the college, they ask the question “why”, I think the “uh huh” moment will come in their III and IV years when they will be given the opportunity to lead from the front and they will look back as being thankful that they had the opportunity to first discover and experiment with their leadership skills through a relatively stress free environment.”

The next article in this series we will share the changes being made to the military and combative skills program introduced and developed in the third year PE Curriculum.

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