Athlete Rep Spotlight: Bo Hedges – Wheelchair Basketball

It’s Our Turn, AthletesCAN’s new marketing campaign focuses on the stories of athlete leaders across the 68 sports eligible for AthletesCAN membership. The campaign highlights a pivotal moment for a new era in sport governance, underlining the athlete representatives’ respective journeys into the athlete advocacy movement both in their careers and within their National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

Each week, AthletesCAN profiles a key athlete leader among its membership, highlighting how athlete representation has played a significant role in their career and within their National Sport Organization.

Bo Hedges

Name: Bo Hedges
Sport: Wheelchair Basketball
Position / Event: Guard
National team tenure: 2007 – Present
Hometown: Fort St. John, B.C.

How did you first hear about and get involved in athlete advocacy?

I got involved with kind of being the athlete voice and being an athlete rep through Wheelchair Basketball Canada back in the early 2010s. I guess somewhere around there I got nominated to be the athlete rep, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into and then from there I got to go to an AthletesCAN form and that kind of stoked the fire and kept me going from there till now.

Why is it important for the Canadian Sport System to prioritize an athlete-centred experience?

I think that’s important so that athletes are, you know, helping to dictate where they organization is going and actually how their training is. Things have changed a lot. A lot of athletes are very knowledgeable and as well, a lot of the people on the organizational side were athletes at one time, but they’re so far removed that they don’t necessarily know what’s going on at the ground level. And so the concerns and the challenges there and what the athletes would like and I think if everybody works collaboratively. It’s it’s a much better system and everybody comes out further ahead.

How have you used your athlete voice on behalf of your peers and how has it impacted your sport journey?

For me, using my voice mainly comes through being an athlete rep and being on the board for AthletesCAN. And then also I’m on the board of directors for Wheelchair Basketball BC in my old home province and I chair that board. And so I try as an active athlete to speak to all those different levels, the different groups that I represent. Overall, I think it’s just about trying to talk to everybody. I speak to people within those groups and organizations and make sure that I’m hearing what other athletes are feeling and take that to those positions. To speak to those points is the main piece for sure. And for me, it’s just after I did it for a while and that it became rewarding. And I enjoy those conversations with other athletes and my peers and seeing what’s going on and trying to help is, is the key there, in trying to help everybody have a better athlete experience.

What is your favourite memory being an Athlete Rep / being involved in athlete advocacy? 

For me, I think my favourite memories go back to being at an AthletesCAN form. My first one, the next one, and all of them are of being great. The in-person version is obviously a little better, but even the online version still has a special feeling to it. The one that I ran to to join the board for the first time, that was a pretty cool experience. Those types of interactions with athletes from all different sports, Paralympic and able, they’re in the same room having conversations and that sort of thing is, is very rewarding.

What have you learned about being a leader in your sport?

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned about being a leader is, is having the conversations sometimes are not easy conversations. You need to have all the conversations with all the different athletes and get to know them and then be able to have the hard conversations on the other side. So it’s a lot of listening, but then it’s a lot of, you know, just that motivation to once you have the knowledge, to speak to it and not be afraid to raise your voice to the organization, to whoever it may be, the coaches staff and just say, “Hey, this, we need to change this or this needs to happen. And this is what the athletes are thinking.” 

Why should your peers join AthletesCAN and/or get more involved in the leadership of their National Sport Organization?

I think the more you can be involved with AthletesCAN, and learn how sport and the sport system works in Canada and how sport organizations should function, the better able you are to make a change within your organization and take that knowledge and and help the organization. It’s not about saying, you’re doing this wrong. It’s about I think we can do this better. And so by being involved with AthletesCAN, you gain that knowledge, gain that confidence and that ability to then speak to different items and help move the needle within your organization.