Unveiling of CIBC Team Next

Originally published on SportCafé.ca

CIBC unveiled 67 athletes who were chosen for the Team Next Program. You can read the official press release by clicking here.

The event was held at Ryerson's Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto on Monday November 18.


The athletes were nominated by their National and Provincial Sport Organizations and reviewed by a panel of experts, including representatives from AthletesCAN and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO).

Team Next is a program where the athletes will receive
  • an annual grant for three years (total $15 000)
  • mentorship from current and former world-class Canadian athletes
  • workshops and advice on personal finances, post-secondary education and career planning, social media training and public speaking
  • exclusive access to the CIBC Team Next online forum
  • community support and networking opportunities through local CIBC branches and employees
  • preferred CIBC products and services
Speaking to many of the athletes, they especially appreciate the mentorship part of the program. The mentors are:
  • Josh Cassidy
  • Mark de Jonge
  • Stephanie Dixon
  • Kara Lang
  • Kyle Shewfelt
  • Mary Spencer
  • Bruny Surin
  • Simon Whitfield
The unveiling began with Bruny Surin, Simon Whitfield and Stephanie Dixon taking to the podium to introduce the event. They spoke about the great weekend they just spent with the athletes and their roles as mentors. Although the athletes have been thanking the mentors a lot, Simon, on behalf of the mentors, thanked the athletes for giving them inspiration and said how fulfilling their roles are as mentors.

They were followed by Richard Nesbitt, CEO of CIBC who introduced the $2 million Team Next program to help the next generation of Canadian athletic stars reach their full potential. "What makes this program unique and special" he said, "is the elite team of mentors". He explained that the athletes had gathered from all over Canada - from St. John's to Victoria, from Yellowknife to Windsor. They represent all Pan Am and Parapan sports. CIBC will help build a sports legacy and will provide our next generation of athletes with the kind of support they need to succeed.

Federal Minister of Sport Bal Gosal and Provincial Minister of Sport Michael Chan were the final speakers before the official unveiling of the athletes. "The government can not do it alone" said Minister Gosal. With CIBC being a lead sponsor for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the public and private partnership will lead to a lasting sports legacy following the Games. The federal and provincial governments are very happy to see corporate sponsors like CIBC who come on board to help ensure athletes stand a better chance at reaching their goals.


The athletes selected for CIBC Team Next are a varied group representing the 51 Pan Am and Parapan Am Sports and disciplines. They range in age from 15-52. The athletes who mostly practice individual sports were excited about being part of a team and learning about the other sports.

As mentioned above, the athletes come from all over Canada representing 9 Canadian provinces and territories.

British Columbia - 11 athletes

“This program will provide for these aspiring athletes many of the tools they’ll need to achieve their goals in 2015 and beyond,” said Simon Whitfield, mentor for CIBC Team Next and winner of multiple Olympic medals in triathlon. “I would like to congratulate our CIBC Team Next athletes for all their hard work so far, and I look forward to being a mentor and a part of their phenomenal journey during this exciting time in their lives.”

Name
Age
Hometown
Sport
Amanda Yan
25
Burnaby
Wheelchair Basketball
Austin Hinchey
22
Vancouver
Sitting Volleyball
Christabel Nettey
22
Surrey
Athletics 
Danielle Kisser
16
Delta
Swimming (Para)
Emily Belchos
18
Langford
Rugby
Hilary Caldwell
22
Victoria
Swimming
Isabella Bertold
22
Surrey
Sailing
Michelle Xin-Rong Liaw
17
Vancouver
Table Tennis
Nicole Luchanski
23
Campbell River
Baseball
Phyllis Chan
22  
Vancouver
Badminton
Sukhi Panesar
19
Surrey
Field Hockey

Prairies and Territories - 8 athletes

“Mentorship has always played such an important role in my career as an athlete, and I think it’s important for the next generation of aspiring athletes to have the same positive experience” said Kyle Shewfelt, an Olympic and Commonwealth gold-medal gymnast and CIBC Team Next mentor. “I look forward to helping these athletes develop into Canada’s future sporting champions and more. Congratulations, CIBC Team Next athletes!” 

Name
Age
Hometown
Sport
Aron Ghebreyohannes
23
Calgary, AB
Goalball
Brett Leavens
20
Chestermere, AB
Speed Skating
Cody Yano
22
Edmonton, AB
Diving
David Letourneau
24
Calgary, AB
Squash
Denise Ramsden
22
Yellowknife, NWT
Cycling
Nikola Goncin  
21
White City, SK
Wheelchair Basketball
Russell Wood
19
Calgary, AB
Swimming
Taryn Grant
18
Winnipeg, MB
Water Ski


Ontario - 21 athletes

“Congratulations to all of our CIBC Team Next athletes,” said Josh Cassidy, a CIBC Team Next mentor and five-time Canadian champion wheelchair racer and winner of both the 2012 Boston Marathon and 2010 London Marathon. “I’m excited to be mentoring athletes of all abilities on their journey to represent Canada on the world stage. As an aspiring athlete, it’s so important to have a strong support system around you to keep you motivated and encouraged, which is why I’m thrilled to be part of the CIBC Team Next program.

Name
Age
Hometown
Sport
Anthony Romaniw
22
Hamilton
Athletics
Brooke Henderson
16
Smith Falls
Golf
Cameron Smedley
23
Ottawa
CanoeKayak
Carling Zeeman
22
Cambridge
Rowing
Christine Roper
23
London
Rowing
Cody Caldwell
25
Cavan
Wheelchair Rugby
Corey Walsh
19
Ayr
Cycling 
Emma Wright
17
Lindsay
Water Polo
Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson
18
Ottawa
Swimming
Grant O’Gorman
20
Scarborough
Volleyball
Jessie Fleming
15
London
Soccer
Joanna Brown
21
Guelph
Triathlon
Justin Karn
32
Guelph
Judo (Para)
Karen Van Nest
51
South Bruce Peninsula
Archery (Para)
Mathea Stevens
22
Rockland
Modern Pentathlon
Philip Scrubb
20
Ottawa
Basketball
Patricia Bezzoubenko
16
Thornhill
Gymnastics
Samuel Charron
15
Ottawa
Soccer (Para)
Samantha Sendel
22
Aurora
Trampoline
Vanessa Lee
24
Toronto
Archery
Yvette Yong
23
Etobicoke
Taekwondo

Quebec - 20 athletes


“I would like to congratulate our CIBC Team Next athletes for their hard work and dedication so far,” said Bruny Surin, a seven-time Canadian champion and winner of multiple Olympic medals in sprint and CIBC Team Next mentor. “It’s so important to have a support system with you every step of the way, and I’m honoured to be part of a program that recognizes funding alone isn’t enough for our amateur athletes to reach the podium.” 

Name
Age
Hometown
Sport
Alison Levine
23
Côte-Saint-Luc
Boccia
Dorothy Yeats
20
Montréal
Wrestling
François Dussault-Lavoie
20
Québec City
Bowling
Gabrielle Pilote Fortin
20
St-Augustin de Desmaure
Cycling 
Jacqueline Simoneau
17 
Saint-Laurent
Synchronized Swimming
Jean- François Sylvestre
29
Québec City
Wheelchair Tennis
Jean-Michel Lavallière
22
Québec City
Swimming (Para)
Jean-Philippe Maranda
27
Sherbrooke
Athletics (Para)
Kamille Desjardins
21
L’Ange-Gardien
Karate
Kelita Zupancic
23
Montréal
Judo
Kimberly Hyacinthe
24
Terrebonne
Athletics
Louis-Albert Corriveau-Jolin 
23
Sainte-Claire
Cycling (Para)
Mathieu Roy
24
Saint-Gervais
Softball
Maxim Bouchard
23
Saint-Constant
Diving
Maximilien Van Haaster
21
Montréal
Fencing
Michelle Morissette
17
Baie-Comeau
Racquetball
Pamela Ware
20
Montréal
Diving
Pascal Plamondon
20
Ascot Corner
Weightlifting
René Cournoyer
16
Repentigny
Gymnastics
Sylvain Gaudet
24
Brossard
Handball

Maritimes - 7 athletes

“CIBC Team Next is such an essential program because it goes beyond the funding and recognizes the incredible role mentorship also plays in an athlete’s development” said Mark de Jonge, CIBC Team Next mentor and Olympic medalist and sprint kayaker. “I know how important it is to have someone rooting for you in your corner, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this exciting chapter for the members of CIBC Team Next as they strive to reach their goals in athletics and beyond.”  

Name
Age
Hometown
Sport
Ben Taylor
21
St. John’s, NL
Shooting
Brittany Fraser
25 
New Glasgow, NS
Equestrian  
Custio Clayton
26
Dartmouth, NS
Boxing
Ian Kent 
52
Eastern Passage, NS
Table Tennis (Para)
Jason McCoombs
20
Dartmouth, NS
CanoeKayak
Michelle Russell
21
Dartmouth, NS
CanoeKayak
Pamela LeJean 
29
Halifax, NS
Athletics (Para)

I was fortunate to attend the second day of the orientation camp and meet many of the athletes including some interviews. I look forward to following CIBC Team Next towards the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2016 Olympic Games.

(With files from CIBC)