Challenger Sports employs hundreds of coaches across North America every year
I worked 3 years of camp myself out in the States from 2006 to 2008 but never had a lot of experience working with any coaches outside of the UK. Therefore I wanted to quiz 3 of my colleagues who have had much more experience with the North American based portion of our coaching staff, in the hope that I could appeal to any coaches who haven’t yet committed to a role this summer. For anyone else, this will hopefully still be a nice trip down memory lane if you’ve been involved with our camps before….
Firstly I started with Alex Green, current Vice-President of Challenger Sports who oversees US recruitment. For him one of the most important features is finding people with passion- “we know everyone won’t be perfect, but we also know we can improve them as coaches and as long as they have that passion, the experience our staff deliver to the kids on the field will be fantastic”.
Given Alex’s experience in recruiting countless staff over the years- for those of you know him, he loves a quiz but even he doesn’t know exactly how many it has been- one of the most satisfying parts for him is seeing “those kids who were once on our camps returning to one day coach for us- that’s a reflection of the passion and love for the game that we hope we were partly responsible for….so it comes full circle and that’s the kind of bond you make with the company and the concept of the camp coach”.
It sounds cheesy, but some kids at times will look up to our coaches so much that they want to be them when they grow up!
I knew it was important to also get the perspective of a US- based coach. Therefore I enlisted the help of Rory Watters, originally from Rhode Island who was Challenger’s Rookie Coach of the Year as recently as 2020. Rory now works out of our New England office, where amongst other duties, he oversees our programs across Canada.
Rory’s first response when I asked him what makes working on a Challenger camp so special was the support network- “learning from the other coaches, what I like to call the ground troops, was priceless and then you also always know you have the backing of the office staff to fall back on as well.
He went on to talk about what he learnt about himself as an individual- for him it was the ability to see things from a different perspective. He was not one of our most experienced recruits, but quickly learnt that he became more aware of his surroundings and the need to be responsible for others, not just himself! When asked what advice he would give someone else, Rory response’s was succinct and to the point (and might be our next recruitment slogan!)-
”Trust the process”
As managers it’s great to hear this as we know that our tried and tested recruitment and training process continues to have its desired effect! Rory was unique and one of the first of our US-based staff to take up the traditional role of traveling around like the foreign-based staff have always been used to- see below….
Lastly I wanted to get the thoughts of my colleague Sophie Dewar, a Challenger veteran of both working camps but also managing staff, who now oversees our US-based recruitment with specific focus on this summer….if you’re based in North America and want a job this summer, then she’s the girl to talk to!
She speaks to potential staff from lots of different backgrounds and one of the major differences she identified was how the experience can differ depending if you travel or stay local, or whether you are an International student looking for a summer job vs someone who is based permanently in the US like Rory was. In short, the sheer size of our operation means that there will be something for everyone.
When speaking to Sophie it’s clear that the passion that all of us felt working on the camps herself is alive and well- I mean when you think about it, you have 50 states and 10 provinces at your disposal if you apply early enough!
Recently Sophie has also taken the lead on our online training for all staff, and for our US-based staff this is vital. We all recognize that you learn so much on the field, but recently we have started to help prepare our coaches throughout the spring before they start their work as the summer camp coach. We do this through an online learning platform, MiMentor, which not only prepares our coaches to work for us, but also includes Continuous Professional Development modules. The leverage of technology has certainly upped our game when it comes to recruitment, but even Sophie points out (as Alex and Rory did) that it always comes back to the individual and their attitude….”Combine that with our training and curriculum and we know we’ll have the right people, doing the right things, in the right way”.