The RBC Training Ground program landed at Georgian College in Barrie on Saturday with the hopes of discovering the next crop of potential Olympians.
The event is described by the bank sponsor as “a talent identification and athlete funding program designed to find young athletes with Olympic potential, and provide them with the resources they need to achieve their podium dreams.”
The program travels the country looking for athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 who have the athleticism and drive to carry them to future Olympics representing Canada.
Evan MacInnis, national technical leader for RBC Training Ground, told BarrieToday that “effort is definitely one of the most important things that we look for.
"It’s also a combination of age and scoring, so a 14-year-old isn’t expected to score as high as a 20-year-old," he said, "but depending on how they do for their age, then that really piques the interest of our partners, then those partners could invite them for sport-specific testing after today.”
So, if someone who tests well in regards to a certain physical attribute, such as running, that might spark interest from rugby and soccer teams.
“This program is where interest meets opportunity,” MacInnis said, “and there is no other program that exists in this country where 13 sports are here watching.”
E.J. Cudmore, 16, of Barrie, is hoping to get noticed by Volleyball Canada. She has been playing the sport since Grade 6, and she plays in the Titans Volleyball Association in Toronto.
When asked if she scores well and is asked to try another sport, Cudmore said, “possibly, but I really like volleyball. I like the atmosphere and being the leader on the court.”
Eleanor Waite, 17, of Orillia, is a Nordic skier. After scoring well in one of the running events, she was approached by a representative of Cycling Canada.
“I’m hoping to make it to a training centre for Nordic skiing and making a senior team, but if there’s something else I end up getting picked for, then I may try that, too," Waite said.
Waite's mother has no problem with that. “She’s got a bike, not a very good bike, but for sure, we would support anything that she’s wanting to do. She had just started the Nordic skiing two years ago and has climbed very quickly.”
Ryan MacDonald, a representative with Cycling Canada, said “we are here to scout specifically for track cycling, the indoor cycling that you see at the Olympics.
"All of our women’s team sprint members came from the RBC Training Ground program. We just find that track cycling is a very good transferable sport, and if you find an athletic person, odds are you can teach them how to ride a bike. That’s kind of our mentality with Cycling Canada. Just give them the opportunity," MacDonald said.
“We normally hold camps, and we let them try a rental bike on a track, which is a little different than just riding out on the road, so we just let them try it out and see if they have fun, because the big thing is with any sort of Olympic sport, is if you’re not having fun, you’re not going to succeed,” he added.
“I also did this program as well, in 2019, as I came from a football background, playing university football, and I knew nothing about track cycling prior to entering this event,” MacDonald said.
“I got invited to a camp, fell in love with cycling, and to this day I’m still training to make Team Canada, and every single day I’m getting closer and closer. It’s all because RBC gave me that chance. Many of the sports that are recruiting today, a lot of kids don’t even know about them.”