Open Letter to the Members
Dear Wrestling Community,
It is with an open and humble heart that we share this letter.
In response to concerns raised by the WCL membership about the coaching culture that exists at Wrestling Canada Lutte (WCL), the Board, with the support of Own The Podium, commissioned a Review of the high performance coaching environment in July 2018 to better understand the nature and extent of the issue. In addition, and more importantly, we wanted to deal proactively with our commitment to safe sport and to better align with our values.
As the directors of WCL, we empathize and express remorse to all those affected by the unhealthy and unsafe practices that were identified in the Report Concerning Independent Review of Coaching Culture for Wrestling Canada Lutte. We are all personally motivated to do right by the athletes to ensure they have a safe, positive and healthy training and competition environment. Our wish is to work with athletes and coaches proactively on creating a world-leading culture that supports excellence on the mat and off of it.
We have decided to share the Report what was provided to us by the Reviewer in its entirety, without redacting any parts. Our hope is that by sharing the Review, we begin to re-build the trust required to work together in strengthening our culture. Please note that some of the information might be difficult for people to read and as such, we encourage you to seek appropriate support if any of the contents affect you negatively.
The Report Concerning Independent Review of Coaching Culture for Wrestling Canada Lutte was prepared by lawyer David Bennett, who was hired to review the current high performance coaching practices within the sport at the national level. Mr. Bennett interviewed 54 people including 27 current and former female and male athletes composed of NextGen, junior and senior team; 12 coaches; 3 staff; 5 support team members; 4 additional key informants; and 3 board members. Mr. Bennett presented an interim report to the BOD on October 13th, 2018. A final version of the Report was provided to WCL on November 16, 2018 and was shared with the entire Board on December 1st, at a Special Board Meeting. A copy of the report is available HERE for your review.
The Board and Staff are deeply committed to addressing the concerns raised in the Report. We are committed to do so as follows:
- We have struck a Safe Sport Working Group that will be launching early in the new year. The Safe Sport Working Group’s (SSWG) Terms of Reference is available on our website (https://wrestling.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TOR-Safe-Sport-Working-Group-October-2018.pdf).
- In addition, WCL is a member of the Safe Sport Coalition, a pan-sport coalition of National Sport Organizations who are working together to deal with collective safe sport issues. Many of the good practices WCL has or will be implementing are in concert with what is being recommended at the national level.
- We believe that many of the recommendations are actionable in the near future and some have already begun to be implemented by WCL. One example includes being a Responsible Coaching Movement
- We are working with an external facilitator (Dr. Amanda Stanec) to meet with national team athletes in early December to review the recommendations and to better understand how they want to be involved in implementing the safe sport measures.
- At our December 1st Board meeting, we focused our attention on the recommendations. A Safety First ethos was supported by the Board and included the adoption of the following “Statements of Principles” that are to be codified in future policies in the coming months. These include:
- WCL is committed to prohibiting sexual relationships between national team coaches and athletes; between national team coaches and other coaches; and between national team coaches and WCL staff. In addition, WCL will review good practices related to managing other relationships and implement necessary changes at that time.
- WCL is committed to updating its current approach on Vulnerable Sector Checks for all WCL staff and coaches, and all provincial staff and coaches.
- As part of being a member of the Responsible Coaching Movement, WCL is committed to implementing the Rule of Two policy for athletes under eighteen.
- WCL is committed to eliminating verbal abuse, including swearing, yelling, taunting, unhealthy silence and the use of pejorative language by explicitly mentioning this in WCL’s Code of Conduct.
- WCL is committed to eliminating unsafe practices that would render athletes physically nauseous and/ or emotionally unsafe.
- WCL is committed to mandating a zero tolerance for the practice of hazing.
- WCL is committed to developing a policy concerning the use of alcohol.
- WCL is committed to developing a policy on the use of cannabis for coaches and staff members.
- WCL is committed to updating its harassment policy & to provide training to national team coaches, staff, Board of Directors and national team athletes.
- WCL is committed to creating an independent reporting mechanism to manage complaints.
- WCL is committed to investigating all future leaks of sensitive information and hold those responsible accountable.
- Additional priorities identified for 2019 include:
- WCL is committed to striking a national Safety First Task force to review the recommendations and to map out a strategy to prioritize and implement the most important initiatives. It was agreed that the Task Force will be responsible for also communicating progress to the WCL membership.
- WCL is committed to engage athletes and coaches in the process – using various methods.
- WCL is committed to doing a ‘pulse check’ in June and December 2019 with athletes and coaches to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments.
We are committed to making our culture better and we know it will take time to re-gain your trust. Let us know what we can do by sending your feedback and ideas to [email protected] in support of the implementation of our culture shift.
Yours in Sport