On Friday, 30 May, I travelled to Brisbane for the second National Officiating Scholarship seminar. This time the group of 24 officials had been split into two and hockey, tennis, cricket, skating (derby and speed) and swimming officials were participating in this workshop. The other officials were in Melbourne the previous weekend. Feedback from Facebook posts and comments had been positive and coupled with the fantastic experience of the first seminar, I was looking forward to the next few days of learning.
We had been given the task of preparing a 5 minute presentation to bring to the group during the weekend. Parameters were purposefully vague and this was something that was causing me concern as I got myself organized for travel. I enlisted the help of Tom and the boys, all experts in creating power points and capturing video, something I hadn't done before, and got them to give me lessons in PowerPoint 101. Armed with laptop, various cables and plugs, a USB and my notes, I headed off, once again nervous and excited about what lay ahead.
It was wonderful walking into a room full of friendly, familiar faces on Saturday morning. We quickly caught up on all that had been going on in our worlds since the previous workshop and got down to business. We had group sessions on psychology – Knowing your stress, nutrition – The Perfect Diet, Superfoods and Supplements, and decision making. Once again, all sessions were very informative and easily applicable to our officiating roles in our specific sports. I was surprised to learn that there is minimal benefit in taking Vitamin C unless you are sick. Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that the only thing that it prevents, when taken by someone who is well, is an athlete's ability to adapt to their training regime – ie; to improve in strength, speed and fitness!!
Individual specialist appointments and small group discussion sessions were also a part of our Saturday schedule. Emphasis was placed on further group networking and professional support for our various officiating appointments and challenges ahead. I was continually blown away with the time these specialists give each of us personally. Their input, guidance and foresight has been invaluable and very much appreciated.
We were given the chance to enjoy Saturday night off. There were no restrictions, only a strong worded reminder to make good choices, be mindful of who we represent and to ensure that we were present in the morning regardless of condition. The officials group decided to have dinner together. I joined them for a drink before heading off to dinner and a catch up with my mentor, Karen Doyle. Apparently I was tagged the honorary "party animal" of the group. Getting back from Karen's at 1030pm meant that I had stayed out the latest!! Clearly, the knowledge that each of us had a presentation to make on Sunday, kept us on the straight and narrow on Saturday night.
Sunday, 1 June, was another great day packed full of more group psychology sessions, individual specialist appointments, small group activities on communication and decision making and, of course, the dreaded individual presentations. Although we were confident of the support and friendship in the group, I think it's fair to say that all of us were somewhat nervous as we stood in front of our peers, mindful of the 5 minute "cut off" being enforced by Ben and Ash's stopwatch. Personally, I found the time limit challenging but, in the end, a great learning experience about myself as a presenter. The positive and constructive feedback given was invaluable and I'm sure that each of us walked away discovering something more about ourselves.
Other officials in the room learnt something about inline speed skating too! "I'm still stuck on the fact that you're not ice" was some of the feedback given by a few people in the room. I'm really grateful that I was able to set them straight and give them some information about inline speed skating in that 5 minute presentation exercise.
With the pressure of presentations now over, we were able to relax, engage in the last group discussion and brainstorm about various problems presented in the session. All too quickly the seminar was over. Officials were saying goodbye, wishing one another the best of luck for future appointments and promising ongoing contact in the months ahead.
Karen was kind enough to take me to the airport giving us a chance to debrief and talk about the weekend just completed. It was a very well organized and highly professional undertaking full of learning opportunities and professional development.
As already mentioned, the CIC has accepted SA's application that I sit my International Accreditation at the World Championships in Argentina this year. My exam is scheduled for 11 November – the rest day at Worlds. The next 5 months will be busy and the CIC International Rule Book will become my new best friend. Well, not really, but you get the idea.... Focus for me will be, not only on knowing the rules well, but also on understanding their interpretation and application at a World level. I'm looking forward to the exciting months ahead.
I was advised in January that I had been successful in my application for the Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship Program. There were 24 successful applicants and these were mainly from professional and Olympic sports such as AFL, NRL, Basketball, Swimming, Cricket, Hockey, Tennis, and Soccer. Derby and Inline speed skating were the only two sports represented in this 24 that were not professional or Olympic so it was very exciting to hear that we had been chosen to be a part of this program. My first seminar was at the Gold Coast in March.
I arrived at the meeting room Thursday morning a bundle of nerves and not sure what to expect. My thinking was that speed skating was so small compared to the other sports represented. What could I possibly contribute to the development of these other officials, especially when they were pursuing professional and/or Olympic status and full time financial contracts? I wasn't convinced that I would be able to offer anything to the group or gain much from it either. Boy I was wrong!!!
The weekend was split into a number of sessions. Group lectures were run on psychology, nutrition, recovery, emotional intelligence, social media, professionalism, the mentoring relationship, and communication. Individual appointments were held with each of the specialists so that we could talk about our specific challenges and needs and formulate plans of action to improve in the identified areas of media, psychology, nutrition and recovery.
The group of 24 officials was often split into smaller groups to facilitate discussions on similarities and differences between the sports and the challenges officials face. This exercise was particularly useful in showing me how similar we actually are across the sports despite the size or status. It was very evident that regardless of what sport we were from, all of us were there to improve and challenge ourselves to become better, more professional officials. Our individual goals and the challenges we faced when doing our jobs were one in the same and this really helped us to open up and discuss things freely with each other. One of the main aims of the seminar was to encourage networking and this was easily done as we got to know each other better in each of the sessions.
On Friday we were split into smaller groups of 4 and given the task of running a group activity. These were highly entertaining and incorporated trust building exercises, truth and lie games and navigating crazy obstacle courses blindfolded. We also continued with our individual appointments with the specialists, small group discussions and exercises and worked on reading through our DISC behavior profiles and Emotional Intelligence reports from the psychologist.
The mentors arrived on Saturday and group sessions were focused on the mentor-mentee relationship, our goals for the year and our pathway for future development. The officials had a few physical training sessions to attend – one in the pool in the morning and a choice of running training or Pilates in the afternoon. I chose Pilates as I needed the good stretch. It was an intense workout (as some of the AFL guys found out!) and I felt great afterwards. I was glad that I didn't do the running training. They all came back to the final session looking dead on their feet and ready for a nice, hot shower!!
It was not all business over the 4 days, as we were able to spend some time socializing with the other officials and enjoying great conversation over amazing dinners. We were treated to an incredible dinner buffet at the hotel's revolving restaurant and I have never eaten so much. We were all full but kept going back simply because the food was so good. Most of us commented that we were glad that our nutrition diets had not yet been finalized!! Saturday night was a free social night. Most of us went out with our mentors and Karen Doyle and I had a great time talking about how to apply all that we were learning to speed skating.
Sunday brought the weekend to a close but not before a few workshops on professionalism in our officiating roles and communication skills in general. We were given a few communication exercises that brought a lot of laughter to the session. In one, we were given the task to purposely ignore our partner and interrupt them whilst they were speaking on a topic of interest, in another, one person had to draw a geometrical picture (without seeing it) from the other person's instructions. Both were very practical exercises that highlighted the many challenges we face when trying to communicate effectively with others.
We headed home later that afternoon with communication links established and promises to keep each other up to date on officiating assignments as they came up. It was a fantastic time of learning and support and we all found it to be invaluable for our future development in our roles. There are further workshops in May and June and a final seminar in late November at the AIS in Canberra.
I am really grateful for this opportunity and so challenged by all that I have learned so far. It is a fantastic program and I would hope that we will continue to put our officials forward for this type of development in the future. I am very excited about applying what I have learned to speed skating and hopeful about the future opportunities that will arise from this program for our sport.
I received confirmation last week that I have been accepted to sit my International Commission at the 2014 World Championships in Rosario, Argentina. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time but looking forward to the many challenges ahead and the chance to pursue that next level in something that I love doing.
Skate Australia's junior Speed skating program 'Quick Kids' relaunched at the Bunbury Speed Club in WA last week.
The session which was run by Australian representative speed skater Jaiden Lanigan with assistance from three local coaches had a total of twenty-three participants.
With positive feedback from both skaters and parents, sessions will take now take place every Thursday for the remainder of the term.
Skate Australia and the Australian Speed Committee are excited to see such resurgence in the popularity of speed skating amongst youth, with the sport giving an alternative to getting active to those not currently participating in traditional sports.
Skate Australia is looking at rolling out Quick Kids at more locations nationally over the coming months. If you are interested in becoming a Quick Kids deliverer send through an email to - email@example.com
**Quick Kids is Skate Australia's Speed Skating development program which teaches beginners how to get involved in the fun and fast paced sport.
Skate Australia Speed has sent an Australian team to Korea to participate in the Korean Open.
Keep checking in for updates by the Team Manager, Peter Garriga!
The Australian Speed Team has arrived in Namwon Korea to compete at the 2014 Korea Open and the six members (Sam Evans, Liam Garriga, Dan Harris, Sandra Lorincz, Harry Stogdale, Jaiden Lanigan) and Team Manager (Peter Garriga) are settling in well. The hospitality and friendliness of Koreans is amazing!
We are situated in a hotel about a kilometre from the Track and have easy access to the Lotte Mart across the road which provides food, supplies and cash!
The team has had three training sessions on the Banked Track venue so far and are adapting well, although still a bit tired from the travel. Racing commences on Saturday and runs for three days on the Banked Track before moving onto Road - each team member has three events in each competition. The competition is world class standard and will be extremely challenging for all.
Harry Stogdale had a great performance in the Junior Men's Track 10K Points/Elim race by finishing first over the line but 5th on points - against about 50 competitors - great performance!