UNB Alumni
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UNB Women in Sport conference ‘first of many’

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Apr 19, 2021

Category: UNB Fredericton , Kinesiology , Young Alumni

This story was first published in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner on April 12th, 2021, written by attributed to Bruce Hallihan.
The UNB Alumni Association was a proud sponsor of the UNB Women in Sport Conference.


Mikaela Dodig hopes the first UNB Women in Sport Conference “proves to be the first of many.”

The former UNB Reds women’s basketball all-star planned to launch the conference in 2020, as an in-person event, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation.

Dodig is now in lockdown in Toronto, completing a master’s degree at Ryerson University, but the virtual nature of the inaugural event allowed her to still participate.

Dodig and co-chairs Brynn Nash, a fourth-year UNB soccer keeper, and Andrea Creer, a former Reds swimmer in her fifth year, all deemed the three-day conference a success.

“I’m really pleased with how things went,” Dodig said. “I think we chose really amazing speakers and leaders. They did an excellent job in the panel discussions, and gave great messages to our emerging and current leaders in sport.”

The UNB Women in Sport team was created based on the inspiration of university students who recognized the barriers that girls and women in sport face, and felt the need to push for change.

“I don’t know if I could have asked for a better conference, the first go-around, especially for a student-led group,” Creer said. “We had no technical difficulties, the speakers were amazing, and we had a lot of positive feedback.”

“Saturday was also my birthday, which made it extra special,” Creer, 23, said.

“I honestly couldn’t picture it going better than it did,” Nash agreed. “I was on the back end, running the tech, and it was pretty smooth sailing there. A lot of the audience and attendees were engaging through the chat function that we had on Zoom. It really showed that the conversations we were having were really important.

“Everyone recognized that this was a topic that needed to be discussed,” Nash said.

Canadian Paralympic wheelchair basketball athlete Erica Gavel was the keynote speaker Saturday. There were panels for women in leadership, racial equity, and coaches.

“Not often do we have a platform where people can talk candidly about racial equity,” Nash said. “It was almost like we could listen in to their conversation and totally hear their perspective, without any other individuals present to deter the conversation. It was really immersive in what their experiences were.”

TSN broadcast personality Michael Landsberg, founder of #SickNotWeak, did a mental health presentation – with Dodig as moderator.

“He’s a great speaker and he shares a great story about his experience with mental illness,” Dodig said. “He brings a powerful message.”

He is a fantastic speaker,” Nash said. “He took a difficult topic of mental health, which people aren’t always comfortable to discuss, and made it in a more approachable manner and opened the conversation up.”

Sunday workshops were titled ‘Leading with Confidence’ and ‘Influencing Change.’

“It was really unfortunate that it couldn’t go on, in person, last school year,” Dodig said. “To be able to do it virtually was nice prep and practise for when we do get to do it in person and put it on a bigger stage.”

Having everyone in the same venue would be beneficial, Nash said.

“The interaction was definitely missed at times,” she said. “I think an in-person event, especially in sport networking, is so important. By building your network, you’re able to open doors a lot more.

“But I’m not opposed to incorporating virtual discussion panels into next year’s conference to get a broader range of participation across the country,” Nash said.

Dodid says she didn’t want the conference to be a one-off.

“It’s going to be something that continues and grows,” she said. “Even though I’m graduating this year, I’m going to stay involved and keep building it every year. We want to keep this around for a long time.” 

“We’re an accredited club on campus now,” Creer said, “so we can move forward on campus, as a club, but also in the capacity of a conference. We’ve met with a lot of partners throughout the sport community in the last few months leading up the conference.”

These include Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, and She Is Active New Brunswick.

“We have a lot of good connections in the community now, not just in New Brunswick but in the Maritimes,” Creer said.

Written by Bruce Hallihan, Daily Gleaner