Coming back to school for me was a HUGE decision. However, my choice to do a second Masters degree has been life changing for me. I chose the University of Windsor Master of Human Kinetics for a few different reasons. Their Sport Management program is currently ranked ninth in the world and top in Canada. The option to choose between an internship or a thesis was ideal because I wanted the networking and practical experience that an internship would provide. What I didn’t realize was the numerous out of classroom learning experiences that I would get through my Sport Management program. Less than a month into school, back in September, my Strategic Management in the Sport Industry class headed to Toronto for two days to meet with executives from Maple Leafs Sport and Entertainment, the Toronto Blue Jays, CBC Sports, and the Wasserman Media Group. The trip also featured an alumni networking event at Real Sports Bar & Grill and concluded with the Canada vs. Slovakia World Cup of Hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Needless to say I was in heaven and knew I had made the right decision to come back to school.
Flash forward 6 months and I’m almost done my first year of the program! It’s been better than I expected and I most recently had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Great Olympic Journey’ as part of my Politics, Crises, and Commercialism in the Modern Olympic Movement class. My professor, Dr. Scott Martyn, has been taking his class on this trip since 2004 and it has become a staple of the Sport Management program at the University. As part of the course requirements, we each had to select a way to journal the trip. Of course, bronze & gold was the obvious choice for me!
The trip was incredible and featured far too many highlights and moments to cover everything but here’s a quick glimpse of our week!
We met at the Human Kinetics building early on Monday morning and somehow managed to cram 12 people and their week’s worth of luggage into two vehicles. After the quintessential first stop of any true road trip- Tim Hortons, we were on our way to Toronto. Our first meeting of the week was with the Toronto Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) office that focuses on marketing and digital content. The COC Foundation is also housed here. We were then surprised by our professor with tickets to Medieval Times where it was then our turn to surprise him with a knighting ceremony.
Tuesday was a full day of driving. In typical Montreal fashion, we arrived in the midst of a 40cm snowstorm. Our original plan was to watch the Habs game but after some unfortunate ticket issues (don’t ask), we were escorted out of the Bell Centre. But nothing could get us down! We were on the Great Olympic Journey after all!! We headed straight to Peel Pub and I think we had more fun watching the game there… especially once the karaoke station was set up.
Thursday marked the halfway point of the Great Olympic Journey and it was a busy one. We started off with an all-access tour of the Montreal Sport Institute followed by a guided tour of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Park facilities. We then crossed the border and made the quick drive to Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. We were welcomed to Lake Placid by Jim Rogers, Chairman of the Protocol Division and Chief of Protocol for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. He gave us a tour of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Herb Brooks Arena before we headed to the U.S Olympic Training Centre where we would be staying for the next 2 days. With an unlimited, 24/7 food service, we really got to live like Olympians, or at least eat like them!
Our final full day started with a meeting with Jared Steenberge, Manager of Operations of the United States Olympic Committee. Jared gave us even more insights into the day to day life of an American Olympian training at the U.S Olympic Training Centre. We then received a tour of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the 1932 and 1980 Olympic venues by our good friend, Jim Rogers. We finished off the day and our final night of the trip with the second ECAC Men’s Hockey Championship Semi-Final game at the Herb Brooks Arena.
Our Great Olympic Journey concluded on Saturday morning with a gondola ride to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Our week was filled with educational experiences that really emphasized to me that you can only learn so much in the classroom. Having the opportunity to see all aspects of the Modern Olympic Movement, from the COC Marketing team to WADA to living with the U.S Olympians, was just another reminder that not only is sport management the career for me but I truly made the right decision in choosing the University of Windsor.
If you’re like me you sometimes look at Facebook memories when they pop up in your notifications. Other times, your social media ego snuffs their allure. Today a handful of amazing friends with whom Facebook claimed I had memories peaked my interest. So I clicked.
Lo and behold, one of the memories was a link to my blog from 5 years ago. This was blogger Mad 2-point-0 - a page I called Simply Rad (one of my closest pals in highschool called me Rad Mad, it stuck). It followed my Norwegian exchange blog success as a blog for all of my thoughts. Anything and everything that came to mind and could help me procrastinate from my school work.
This day in particular featured a post I had written after one of the many conferences I attended at Queen’s. My blog had just about reached 10,000 hits and I was inspired. Note the one 'like' and the sole comment from my loving aunt:
March 10, 2012 - This is me: pursuing it.
When I first started blogging (crazy it was nearly 3 years ago now!), I never could have imagined it would turn into what it did. I was never a writer in school, and always had way better ideas than I could ever formulate onto paper. I didn’t think I was the “artsy type”.
Originally I started For the Love of Norway as a means of keeping in touch with everybody back home. I don’t know if it was the mass of carbs I was consuming or the huge quantities of spare time I had in my Norwegian classes, but what began as a simple recount of my day quickly turned into a witty narration of every single thing that happened to me. The feedback was amazing; Mom would tell me that if I didn’t write for a few days she had people asking her if I was okay. She was also my first publicist, printing off copies and leaving them lying around for people to pick up and read. For the Love of Norway became such a significant part of my exchange experience that two of my greatest friends added “Published Author” to my repertoire by making a hardcover book of it.
Simply Rad has become the next chapter, or perhaps even next book in the series. Though time doesn’t permit me the same consistency in writing, the fact that it’s nearing 10,000 hits has me blown away. In all, taking up the hobby of blogging has resulted in many people telling me I should pursue journalism. This has been flattering, stressful (pressure to create wonderful masterpieces every single time) and seriously considered, which is what landed me at the Queen’s Media & Journalism Conference this weekend (so eagerly geeky of me, as per usj). As delegates, we were graced with “animated wisdom on matters such as how to land a sought-after internship, how to create an effective blog, and how to get [our] start in the rapidly changing world of journalism.” We had speakers and workshops and delicious hors d’oeuvres. We learned to carve out our own niche and to not be afraid to take a stand on something. We learned that writing is something that only gets better with practice; and if you take a break, things might get rusty. We were presented with many of the ins and outs of the media industry and where it’s headed.
In all, I think we learned that reflection is valuable (reflecting on your work and reflecting on what’s been successful), and networking is the way to get in. We were encouraged that a degree in journalism isn’t necessary nor will it give you any advantage per se, rather it’s about your drive and your skills. Having been my second conference of the year, and being the influential sponge that I am, I naturally came out of the weekend inspired. Inspired to pursue not necessarily cut-throat journalism, but to pursue the things I am good at and the things I am passionate about.
Be prepared to do a lot more reading, friends. This is me pursuing it (and yes, I might just follow-up with James Duthie afterall).
Sophmore Mad was feeling inspired. And I was coincidentally reminded of this on a 2017 day when inspiration festered again.
Living in Southern California there are constant glimmering reminders to live out your inner dreamer. Got a tech idea? You’re just one lunch time conversation in the In-And-Out line up away from selling it to a potential gazillionaire investor (NDA in hand, of course). Wanna be a star? Hollywood is a hop skip and a jump away and maybe you’ll be discovered walking down Hollywood Blvd. Always dreamed of being a sportscaster? You might just make friends with a Senior Writer for ESPN at an awkward dinner in Las Vegas where a pro gambler says you look like a professor and makes you cry. (I dare ya, which one of those scenarios screams Mad?)
Inner dreamer and a job that makes me feel oh-so-close to realizing my dream is right there if only I reach, reach, reach for it…….And so I’ve begun a journey of taking my own advice circa 2012. I always lamented that the structure of University writing let my voice slip away from me. I always worried that my knack for personable writing would dry up as my studies in politics took precedent. But through this endeavour that Teal and I took on a year and a half ago we’ve been expressing ourselves and honing in on our own respective crafts. And it’s been pretty darn cool.
I’ve written about poverty, period panties, and my inner frugality. I’ve edited pieces by guest writers that we’ve featured. I’ve built upon my P&CC era photoshop skills to create our visual identity standards and various graphics. I know that a downfall I need to overcome is worrying a piece of writing has to be perfect and the ultimate combination of wit and charm before posting. Sometimes, it’s more about throwing the idea out there and letting people formulate their own interpretation. As the overprotective, control freak, older sister that I am it is clear letting go isn’t my strong suit and this extends into my writing. I also know I have to work on gaining experience in various aspects of the industry, having not taken anything in the related field in school. This is why I’ve recently taken a couple leaps on the sportscasting side of things, gone out on a limb and worked towards building upon the drive, skills, and networking I blogged about 5 years ago (wracking up tons of material for a future blog post, if nothing else).
With James Duthie and Jay Onrait’s books stacked on my nightstand how can I go to sleep at night and not brainstorm ways to make my dream a reality? When I watch my favourite sports channels and see a total lack of redhead representation on the sports desks how can I not go chasing it? When I watch interviews or read articles and immediately think of things I would have asked the players, how can I not give myself the opportunity?
And so, for the second time in a blog format I declare - This is me: pursuing it.
Stay tuned for updates if you want to read about the many lessons along the way. ‘Cause you know me... they’ll be awkward and funny and cringe worthy. And maybe my lessons will encourage you to take on a YOLO mentality. (That may be the title of my future biography - Take a YOLO Mentality. 5 years from now when this post is a Facebook memory let’s just see!)
2017 marks a year of milestones for me.
Our family business JED Express marks 25 years of success in business as I finish my first full year working with my Dad and a great group of colleagues.
I turn the big 3-0 in November.
I celebrate over a decade in public life.
And it will be my last full year as Mayor of the Township of North Dundas: a job that I have loved, that I have grown in, and has opened many doors for me.
The past year for me, however, has already been one of transition.
I made, to many, a surprising move to step away from my role in federal politics to reflect on my future and to help my father and our family business.
It has given me more time to think about my future, professionally and personally.
Recently, I concluded that I need to publicly address a key part of my life to allow myself to live my life happy and balanced going forward.
I want to acknowledge today the simple fact that I am gay.
I am one of many men and women who have struggled to balance this with my work and other aspects of my life.
I have struggled and debated about making this statement on a large scale. Do I need to say anything? Will it affect my career? Would I lose friends and people who have supported me for years?
I am not making this announcement for attention. Ironically, for the exact opposite reason.
I want people to know that I have been private about being gay not because I am ashamed or embarrassed. I have always believed that anyone’s private life should be exactly that: private. Rarely, it has any bearing on our abilities to do our jobs and make a difference.
Until now, I have not discussed my sexual orientation because I have always believed it is not relevant to assessing my successes and failures.
Being gay has never impacted my job performance. It has not impacted my skills to run a meeting, to put together a budget, or make a hiring decision.
I have waited this long to show people that sexual orientation shouldn’t impact a person’s ability to do their job effectively.
I have been very proud of what I have been able to achieve in my life to date. I have wanted to be judged solely on my leadership traits and my record as Mayor, and nothing else.
By sharing my story, I am not 100% sure what the reaction will be. I am at the point in my life where that is not my priority. Rather, I want to live freely and proud of who I am, and achieve happiness in my personal and professional life, whatever that direction may be.
Some people will react with surprise, and unfortunately, some with disappointment or anger.
But I suspect that for most people, like I have experienced in coming out to close family and friends, there will be support, or in many cases, just plain indifference to this news.
Social norms have undoubtedly become more tolerant and compassionate in recent years. I could never have gathered the courage to write this a generation ago.
I am fully aware that there is still a ways to go. In the meantime, it is my hope that this news changes nothing.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll go to work like every other day and be treated no different. Someone will call or email me to complain about a pothole or local issue. I’ll run a meeting or two.
And, like I have my entire life, I’ll try and do something to make my community a better place. I plan to make my last 17 months in municipal politics meaningful.
When I step out of the Mayor’s office for the last time next November, I can’t help but begin to reflect about what my legacy will be.
I hope that residents feel I have done a good job and made a difference.
I hope that young people see a 20-something Mayor holding his own alongside colleagues twice or three times his age, to become inspired enough to get involved in public life and their community themselves at a young age.
And after today, I hope a gay teenage boy or girl who is scared about their future, and who wonder if they can ever come out, reads this note to know that it will all be OK in the long run.
Sure, there will be roadblocks and some intolerance. But you will be more surprised at the love, the support, and the indifference from those that matter.
Everyone faces barriers and roadblocks in life. Some taller or deeper than others. But I hope they will know that they can work hard, be passionate, and reach for their dreams.
I’m grateful to have been given a chance to do just that, and to now have a burden off my shoulders.
Stronger and more proud than ever, I look forward to entering my next decade of life and finish my term in public office.
To any person out there who needs hope, please consider my story: if I can do it, you can too.
Editor's note: Eric Duncan currently serves as Mayor for the Township of North Dundas and served two terms as Warden of the United Counties of SD&G. He was elected Councillor at age 18 and Mayor in 2010 at the age of 22. Eric is the epitome of bronze&gold. His drive goes completely unmatched - spending his twenties in public service as the MAYOR of North Dundas. He rolls around town in a slick Chrysler 300, used to sport his Blackberry in a holster, all while having his trendy facial hair become the whole town's concern. Madison will never forget Eric teaching her how to play card games in the back of Tommy's bus through elementary school. We are truly honoured to have him as a guest writer.
We're excited to introduce you (especially those of you in Ontario) to a new brand that we can't get enough of- Best Case Ontario! We got all the scoop from Co-Founders, Mallory Martin and Shelby Johnston, two 20-something best friends who decided to take the risk and follow their passion- something we're all about!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Who are you? Where are you from?
Hey there! Our names are Mallory Martin and Shelby Johnston. We are the Co-Founders of Best Case Ontario! We are both from small towns located in Chatham-Kent (Shelby is from Ridgetown, Mallory is from Dresden) where we had the privilege of growing up in a rural community surrounded by outdoor beauty. We are just a short drive away from fresh water Great Lakes, surrounded by evergreens, and fields as far as the eye can see. We are currently third year students at the University of Windsor both studying Human Kinetics.
How did you meet?
We were formally introduced and became friends in 2014 when we both arrived at residence for our first year of University! We have been roommates ever since and our friendship has grown immensely.
Can you tell us your vision for deciding to start Best Case Ontario?
Shelb and myself have always had the creativity bug. Throughout second and third year we had constantly been throwing ideas back and forth from each other. Ideas from “self-stirring coffee mugs” to “the chill pill” – a pillow that can be cooled to a certain temperature for the perfect sleeping experience. HAHA. But then it occurred to us that we are very passionate about where we come from and where we grew up! We began to brainstorm ideas to bring people that are just like us together to celebrate this awesome province! A few drafts and names came about during this brainstorming process and then we finally came to Best Case Ontario… safe to say we quickly fell in love with the brand. We are so proud of the brand and what it represents. BCO represents the natural and rural lifestyle us Ontarian's live in. Each wave hidden within the tree line represents each one of the Great Lakes.
Where are BCO Headquarters?
We currently just have a basement full of boxes with our inventory! I have some in my car as well. LOL it seems to have taken up much of my room here at university but as we slowly get the name and brand out there I'm sure the number of boxes will decrease. We don't have any set in stone plans regarding where else to sell from so for now we are just keeping the inventory on hand in our basement! My mom has been our helper while I'm at school and Shelby is away in Europe. My mom has made several trips to our supplier to place/ finalize orders for us and pick up products as well! My boyfriend Neil has also helped out a great deal by doing some deliveries at home while I was away at school. My Mom and Neil are both amazing assets that we have right now and probably couldn't do it without their help and of course without the support of both of our parents!
What’s the best feedback you’ve heard (either positive or negative) from friends, family, or customers?
We have had nothing but positive feedback! Everyone who has purchased items have said they love the logo, sizes fit great and the sweaters are very comfy! Family is obviously very supportive, they have helped us to pursue this dream by assisting us with the ordering process, reaching out to their friends for more support and awareness and of course buying lots of products! We love the positive feedback we are receiving and we hope to continue this as we introduce more products and reach out to more customers!
What are your goals for BCO for the remainder of 2017?
Right now we are focusing on short-term goals like getting our name out there and letting people know who we are and what we are about. We have talked about working with several charities in the near future. We feel that this province has given us so much we are thankful for that we would love to give back in any way we can. We hope to inspire others to be creative and proud of where we come from! Just focusing on expanding and reaching as many as possible would be something we are looking forward to pursing.
Also, we are currently working on easier ways/more user friendly ways to access our brand and purchase products by creating a formal website and a mobile app (to be launched soon). We are also interested in adding more apparel to our product line that we currently have.
What’s your favourite product?
Mallory: Personally my favourite product is the Toque. I like how it fits, and is very casual and fitting for cooler winters/weather we experience here in Ontario.
Shelby: I like the sweaters. They are very laidback and country style. They fit great and are very cozy for nights by the fire, or walking beside the lake on a cool night!
Where can we get some BCO?
Currently you can get access to all our awesome gear by connecting with us on Facebook. Here you will find all our items we are currently selling. To purchase items, simply like our page, follow us, and then message us with what it is you’d like to purchase.