Athlete Rep Spotlight: Sasha Beck – Triathlon

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.

Sasha Beck

Name: Sasha Beck
Sport: Triathlon
Position / Event: Guide
National team tenure: 2014-2016
Hometown: Oakville, Ont.

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

I heard about it from a couple of coaches and then the previous Athlete Director, and they had suggested that I’d be a good candidate so I applied to it and so that was my first intro to it. And then I met with our CEO and our President and he gave me some more information about it, and they both had some background about me, and I really wanted to give back to the sport that I loved and grew up doing. It interested me and I thought I could make a real difference bringing an athlete voice to the Board and aligning with some of the policies and criteria that they had already set in place and were in motion.

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

Good question, it’s really important. I think there’s a lot of value in having an athlete as a member on the Board because that is the entire membership at the national sporting institute level. Triathlon Canada specifically has 22,000 members, and all the decisions that they make at that Board level have a direct impact where the output is impacting all the memberships which are all athletes so it’s really important and valued to be able to bring that voice to the Board and those decisions.

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

I’m still new to the Board so I don’t have a lot of experience where I can say that I brought my voice to the Board. But when I was an athlete on the national team, I was on the Paralympic team and I was a guide to a visually-impaired athlete, and this was something that was brand new to Triathlon Canada and brand new at the Paralympic Games than I was training to compete in as an athlete – which was Rio in 2016. One area that I was really able to bring my athlete voice to and had a positive impact was because this position was brand new to the national team position being a guide, there was not a ton of support or criteria in place to support, so this was a really big conversation I had with a lot of the High Performance coaches and directors to try and figure out how this position was going to get fulfilled and sustained leading into the next Games going into Tokyo 2020, then Paris 2024, and Los Angeles 2028 and how could we improve on the experiences that I had. It was good, but could use improvement, and so it was really clear on some things that I think needed to happen to help make sure that this guiding position, which is definitely a mandatory position to carry that visually-impaired athlete through to the finish line are treated like they’re a teammate – they’re not a volunteer, they’re a teammate on the national team.

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

One of my most recent memories: I am a part of a committee at a Provincial Sport Organization level to help develop their provincial development plan. To me, it’s a special memory because it builds off the pathways I’ve created from the National Sport Organization in Canada, and I think it’s the first time it’s a very clear pathway of development to national team athletes and something that I felt like being a part of that national team journey as an athlete and now bringing it forward and being a part of a committee to help develop a new provincial development plan. I felt like I was really inspired to help the provincial level really come up to that national-level standard, and just be really clear on that criteria and what it takes, the standards, and what I would have wanted to see as an athlete when I was in that development phase, in that national team phase, that I want to see there today. I feel really proud that we are in the midst of doing that right now, but my voice is heard, and I feel like it’s going to be very good progress towards building a pathway for athletes in Ontario and then up to the Canadian national team level. 

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

I have learned that as we progressed through the years, more and more people are seeing value in listening to athletes and including them in some big decisions that are going to directly impact them. Whether you are a retired athlete, or a current athlete, you’re getting a survey to help gauge feedback to help support those decisions. I’ve learned that if you speak up and you’re really clear about what athletes need in their sport, you can achieve it. There are a lot of people that are willing to support athletes, but not necessarily come up with a solution but are ready to support, and we’re just waiting for people to speak up. So I think what I’ve learned as a leader in sport, is that if you speak up you’re going to be heard, and it will have a positive impact if you have a supportive organization. 

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

I think it’s really important that athletes consider joining organizations such as AthletesCAN that are literally there to support athletes and help them bridge the gap to some of the formality-type policy language that will come out of the NSO level. That really gives athletes the opportunity to contribute to some of those key decisions or information sessions and understand them when it comes to the NSO level or PSO level. I think a lot of times, athletes are the outputs and just hear some of those decisions, but it’s really important they understand why those decisions, criteria, and policies were made and realize that when they’re a part of those types of conversations when they join those organizations that they can have an impact on themselves and progress through their sporting career.