Category Archives: 2017

Etta St. John Wileman Award Interview- Denis Pelletier

It is with great honour that the editors of The Canadian Journal of Career Development bring you a special series of interviews with past Etta St. John Wileman award winners. The Etta St. John Wileman Award for Lifetime Achievement in Career Development is designed to recognize and celebrate individuals who have devoted their lives within their professions; devoted their lives to the enhancement of career development practice, administration, research and education; and personify the role of researcher, educator, author, practitioner, and career leader.

These individuals have all contributed in their own way to the identity of the career development profession in Canada. It is through these interviews that our readers will get to see different perspectives, and perhaps gather some inspiration for their own work and career development.

Denis Pelletier, Ph.D. is a retired professors (1966-1996) from the Faculty of Education Sciences at Laval University, Qubec. In 1982, he co-founded Septembre éditeur, which is a publisher specializing in the field of career and education. In 2006, he received the prestigious title of emeritus member of the “Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation et des psychoéducateurs et psychoéducatrices du Québec (OCCOPPQ)”. In 2009, he won the Etta St. John Wileman Award from CERIC for his work in championing career, work, and workplace development in Canada. Denis Pelletier is also the joint au-thor of ADVP approach (activation de développement vocationnel et personnel) which is recognized on an international scale.

Re-printed by permission from CERIC. Original Interview conducted for ContactPoint on Dec 14, 2015.

What do you see as the major significant change in the career field in the past 10 years?

Denis: Self-knowledge and self-experimentation.

An inclination to involve oneself in the experience seems to be a defining characteristic of
today’s youth. The idea, for them, of learning by doing, of experimenting rather than exploring by thought alone, indicates the need for active counselling.

For my part, I have been trying, for several years now, to understand what active counselling could entail. I first reflected on the feeling of personal effectiveness (Bandura). It progresses, in adolescence and through life, based on personal goals achieved, milestones reached, challenges faced, encouragement received, results obtained and credit given to oneself; also, on a patient approach to performing tasks and on the ability to manage stress when the going gets tough. In a nutshell, self-knowledge becomes self-experimentation and a feeling of competence and optimism with respect to the future. Note that the analysis of traits and factors, and of interests and aptitudes, has its importance, but that nothing beats self-experimentation as a method for validating and clarifying what one wants to become.

At Cannexus07 (the first one!) you spoke about `A New Paradigm of Career Counseling for a New Working World`, What is one message you hope is still resonating with people today?

Denis: The road and the path.

I distinction between a road, which goes from point A to point B as quickly as possible and a path, which is the strip of earth we walk upon. I think that institutional career counselling—which dictates the times for choosing and the rules for advancing in the various education- al programs—uses the road, from getting a degree to getting a job as directly and effectively as possible.

The concept of progressing along a path defines a non-linear way of thinking about career counselling. Your path is something that evolves and is very close to a kind of becoming, to personal and existential development. It is a process of searching, whereby the person recognizes him or herself in and through action, and seeks to act competently. This constructive approach characterizes people who make their career a personal matter and who transform success and adversity into confidence. All told, the path is discovered by venturing forth, revealing a destination that is sometimes unexpected but nevertheless positive and satisfying.

As you look ahead, what factor do you see most influencing the future of career development?

Denis: Choosing and deciding

There is an important distinction to be made between choosing and deciding. Choosing is a cognitive activity while deciding has to do with motivation. I am now looking for a decision-making equation that takes into account the conditions through which the decision becomes affective and effective. Luckily, I have access to a large quantity of testimonies that I obtained in a study on seizing opportunities. Opportunities feature a strong, intense moment, in which one is offered a real opportunity, and not just a hypothetical one, to “take it or leave it,” and with little time to decide—with all the attendant unknowns. In short, I believe that the decision, in this context, is mostly emotional, and that it overcomes the uncertainty and complexity by making an intuitive assessment. These are elements that are the focus of neuropsychological studies.

Could this be a promising future direction for career counselling?

If you are interested in learning more about Denis Pelletier, you can read an interview that he has done with l’Orientation in 2014. His article is found in Volume 4, Number 1, pp 29-30.

Editorial

Editorial

Welcome to 2017! This year The Canadian Journal of Career Development is 15 years old. I am immensely proud to see how far the Journal has come, as well as how much progress has happened in the career development field over the last 15 years. Since the Journal started in 2002, we have received over 160 sub- missions and published over 120 articles. This anniversary brings with it changes that will allow continual growth to the Journal and, in relation, benefits to the career development field. As the editorial board reflects on the past years, we will be creating a strategic plan for the future of the Journal. In the coming months, a survey will go out on our social media sites to gather information and input from our readership and authors. I ask you to take a moment of your day to provide us with your feedback, as well as share it with anyone interested in the Journal.

Submitting your work to a journal can be very intimidating; this is especially true for students. To help alleviate this, this year we will be producing a special edition that focuses on graduate student research. We are accepting submissions for graduate student research briefs. This includes thesis work from about to graduate students but also from students how have already graduated. Research briefs are to be a maximum of 5 pages (2,500 words) inclusive of references and tables. They should contain a slimmed down intro, methods, findings, and conclusions (if applicable). Deadline for submissions is Monday, April 3, 2017. Additional details are available on our Facebook page. You can also contact associate editor Diana Boyd for any inquiries.

Now I bring your attention to the articles in this issue. In the first article titled ‘The gap year dilemma: When a purposeful gap year is the answer to career unpreparedness’ the authors discuss the benefits of taking a structured year off between high school and before starting university. They evaluated 200 first year students to see how the career choices of those who took a gap year were impacted vs students who went straight onto post-secondary.

‘Effect de l‘information sur le marché du travail (IMT): Comparison entre l’utilisation autonome et assistée de l`IMT’ by Francis Milot-Lapoint, Réginald Savard, and Sylvain Paquette assesses the impact that labour market information has on achieving career goals of individuals. The article is written in French; for those who are not bilingual an English translation will be published in the coming issue.

The last article is of international scope. In ‘The influence of ‘prompting for value ranking’ on career choices of youth in the Gulf Arab world’ author Khamael Al Safi explored how prioritizing the importance of attribute values influences the career choices of youth. The author also examines how such prompting may impact the labour market.

Finally we conclude with an interview done with Denis Pelletier. This interview is a re-print of an interview conducted in previous years by ContactPoint. For those who may not have been able to read the original, we are glad to be able to provide you with the opportunity now.

In closing, I invite our readers & authors to engage with each other. We must all work together to increase the awareness and benefits of career development.

Rob Shea Founding Editor

Examining the Athletic Career Experiences of Canadian Major Junior Hockey Players

Lauren K. McCoy & Nancy Arthur University of Calgary

Dissertation

2015 Abstract

This project explored the unique athletic career experiences of Canadian major junior hockey players. Six recently retired players’ experiences were collected using semistructured, qualitative interviews that were analyzed in accordance with the interpretative phenomenological analysis method. Themes identified in each participant’s account of their CHL experiences were compared and contrasted across all participants to generate an in-depth portrayal that gave voice to participants’ career experiences. The findings have the potential to enhance career and mental health practitioners understandings of the specific sport context, whereby highlighting important considerations when working with athletes undergoing personal and/or career transition.

Considered one of the world’s top professional development junior ice hockey leagues, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is comprised of 60 major junior hockey teams among three associate leagues Each CHL team operates as a for-profit business, showcasing the talent of elite 16 to 20-year-old players. Every year, more than 1000 young athletes relocate across Canada and the United States to join their respective teams. They must adapt to a new city, a new high school, new teammates, and new coaching staff and if traded to another organization, their transition process begins anew. Many CHL athletes devote up to five years in the league with the hope of advancing to the professional level; however, less than 20% of CHL athletes will ever play a single National Hockey League (NHL) game
and only 5% of CHL players will ever achieve long-term NHL careers (Campbell, 2007; Camp- bell & Parcels, 2013). The CHL has been described as a closed community, with many coaches and management officials who commonly restrict access to the institution and its players (Allain, 2013; Bruner, Munroe-Chandler, & Spink, 2008; Robinson, 1998). Players are socialized to guard the best interests of the institution to protect their own athletic careers (Allain, 2013). Given these barriers, limited exploration has been conducted into the psychological, social, and physical experiences of CHL players during their athletic careers or upon athletic retirement.

During the athletic career, elite athletes’ lives are dedicated to sport and are structured
by coaching staff and highly organized around competition; however, athletic retirement often serves as a catalyst to athletes’ restructuring and independently managing their lives (Cosh, Crabb, & LeCouteur, 2013), impacting how athletes perceive themselves, their abilities, and the quality of their lives (Laval- lee & Wylleman, 2000). Athletic career transition literature has suggested that experiences within an athletic career often impact the subsequent retirement transition. For example, pre-retirement planning, psychosocial support, and balance of life have all been associated with positive athletic career transitions (Park, Lavallee, & Tod, 2013). Conversely, a perceived lack of control over athlet- ic career transitions (Alfermann, Stambulova, & Zemaityte, 2004), failure to achieve sport-related goals (Ceric Erpic, Wylleman, & Zupancic, 2004), and a strong athletic identity (Lally, 2007; Martin, Fogarty, & Albion, 2014) have all been associated with poorer transition outcomes among athletes.Therefore, understanding the athletic career experiences and perceptions of players in the CHL’s unique, amateur sport context was the focus of the current study, with the hope that such accounts would also provide knowledge that could be used in facilitating athletic retirement transitions.

Method

The qualitative method of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was selected to understand former CHL players’ experiences and uncover how they perceived events during their athletic careers. This method prioritizes giving voice to each individual’s subjective, personal accounts through its emphasis on the conceptualization of meaning-making processes at the level of the person in context (Eatough & Smith, 2008; Larkin, Watts, & Clifton, 2006).

Participants

Participants included six recently retired CHL players, who ranged in age from 20 to 21 years old, and represented top round, late round, and undrafted players in their respective CHL entry drafts. Each participant played between two and four seasons in the CHL and, across their athletic careers, collective ly represented 11 different CHL teams. Participants varied in their temporal relation to CHL career termination and, thus, represented retirements that occurred between four weeks and 12 months prior to data collection. Reasons for retirement also varied to include voluntary retirement, deselection, and exceeding the maximum age of eligibility in the league. Like the majority of CHL athletes, none of the players represented in this study were drafted to the NHL.

Data Collection and Analysis

Consistent with the IPA method, data was collected using semi-structured interviews lasting between one and three hours. Interviews were audio-recorded to facilitate verbatim transcription. Interview questions traced athletic career and transition experiences from a flexible, temporal perspective—collecting information regarding the participants’ experiences as elite hockey players, the circumstances surrounding their retirement from major junior hockey, and their experiences around transition away from elite sport.

Data analysis involved developing an evocative representation that illustrated the relationships between themes derived from the interview data and acknowledged the researcher’s own perceptions, conceptions, and processes (Larkin & Thomp- son, 2012; Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). As a provisional registered psychologist, the older sister of a former CHL athlete, and a professional figure skating coach, the first author approached this research project with a unique perspective. Consistent with the IPA approach, subjectiv- ity is not claimed to be removed from the research process but rather is acknowledged for its contribution to the interpretive process of data collection and an- alysis (Moules, McCaffrey, Field, & Laing, 2015).

As an iterative and inductive process, IPA data analysis cycled through Smith et al.’s (2009) recommended steps. First, transcripts were open coded and loosely annotated for initial impressions of the interview content, the participant’s language, and potential concepts (e.g. identity loss) (Larkin & Thomp- son, 2012). Next, each transcript was reviewed and reread with the intention to engage more deeply with the participant’s experience to create a line-by-line analysis that acknowledged additional associations, connections, amplifications, and contradictions. To introduce additional structure into the analysis, all emergent themes were listed; abstraction was used to cluster themes that shared meaning or contextual references while subsumption was used to synthesize or collapse emergent themes (Smith et al., 2009). Next, the data analysis processes shifted to examining participants’ accounts for points of convergence and divergence (Smith et al., 2009). Final themes were not selected purely on prevalence but, rather, the interpretative coding was developed from and connected to the core topic of inquiry to generate pattern of themes that best illustrated the meaning of the participants’ athletic career experiences and athletic career transition experiences (Larkin & Thompson, 2012).

Results

In accordance with participant responses and the researcher’s interpretation, results were organized into a total of eight superordinate themes, including (a) precariousness of ice time, (b) frustration over role constraints, (c) being at the mercy of the business, (d) navigating coaching styles, (e) damaged confidence, (f) a culture of silence, (g) an emotional rollercoaster, and (h) personal development. In the interest of space restrictions, a selection of four superordinate themes will be presented with support of participant quotations. In an effort to protect participants’ anonymity, all participants will be referred to by pseudonyms.

Being at the Mercy of the Business

Participants recounted the gradual realization that the trajectory of their careers was not based solely on their skill or merit. Participants discussed their athletic careers as being at the mercy of the business interests of their respective hockey clubs and, therefore, largely beyond their control. Jim remarked, “I worked so hard and got absolutely nothing. You’re trying to do every- thing you can, but it’s just kind of like a road to nowhere.” Paul attributed some of the discrepant opportunities to league structure and politics, stating, “Just the opportunity some guys had…and me sitting there like ‘oh, what the heck, I can work just as hard and do more if I had the chance…’ but his dad played in the NHL
or something you know. Yeah, that kind of stuff makes me hate hockey. All the politics and garbage like that. Politics and who you know and what you know… that kind of stuff away from the game that shouldn’t matter but [it] has the biggest impact on the game.”

Trade decisions and deselection decisions also seemed to emphasize the best interests of the team and not the individual player being impacted. Four participants were faced with the realities of unexpected trades and five of six participants were traded at least once during their CHL career. When asked about these trade experiences, most players indicated that such events occurred “out of the blue” (Tim) and left them “shocked” (Paul) as they “never saw it coming” (Paul). Similarly, Scott recalled his experience of being traded as sudden and unexpected.

And they told me at 5 a.m. and I went home and packed my stuff and I was on the road. So I probably shouldn’t have been driving, but [the other team] called me and said ‘okay, you have practice at 2 p.m. and you better be here’. I know during that eight-hour drive or whatever it was, I know I was l…probably a bit of a wreck.

Damaged Confidence

Many participants felt their confidence had been dam- aged by a combination of fac- tors, including the perception of insufficient ice time, role constraints, and mistreatment
from coaches. Scott related these experiences to developing a habit of second-guessing himself. He retraced the thought process, remarking: “I’m not doing some- thing good enough. Does the coach just not like me? Does he have his favourites? I mean am I not skilled enough for this? Am I not experienced enough? Like what do I got to do better?” Similarly, Tim explained that he also felt as though his confidence had been damaged by maltreatment and verbal abuse from one of his head coaches. He explained: “Like everybody can only take [the coach screaming and demeaning] so long…before you do really internalize it and then you start to suffer and then you just don’t have the same belief in yourself.”

A Culture of Silence

Despite the challenges facing players, participants also indicated that they often felt constrained in their ability to speak out or seek assistance for physical and emotional struggles in fear of negative consequences on their athletic career. While participants recognized that “it was not in [their] best interest,” two of the participants interviewed admitted to playing with suspected concussions due to pressure from coaches and the perceived need for ice time to further their athletic careers. Robert recalled playing with an injury:

I remember I broke my hand and I went to the hospital in the morning and got a cast or
whatever and that night I just assumed I wasn’t playing.And then [the coach] was kind of like ‘Oh no, you’re playing. Like it’s a broken hand and you’ve got a cast on and you’re fine’. Honestly, our trainer was so scared of [the coach] that he didn’t even say anything, so I just played with this cast for a month.

Several participants explained that this cultural expectation of physical impenetrability extended to include an assumption of emotional toughness among CHL athletes as well. Tim noted that there is a “stigma of hockey in general and you’re just supposed to be able to tough through anything and get through it and be able to deal with every- thing and anything.” Despite this expectation, Jim explained that following several injuries and battling for ice time he “was in a very, very dark place like all around…it’s just like so sad and a long time being miserable and just not mentally kind of stable.” Tim explained that after months of trying to navigate difficulties with coaching, he felt as though he was “in a bit of a depressive state,” adding that “it was very rare for someone to step out and say I need help” as “you’re not sure exactly what the consequences might be.” Jim echoed this fear of stigma, stating that he never reached out for help with the pressures and expectations of the CHL because “You can’t really trust anyone. We wouldn’t
want to admit anything to anyone in case it got back to a coach….”

An Emotional Rollercoaster

Many participants referenced the term “rollercoaster” to describe the “peaks and valleys” of their athletic career experiences in the CHL. Tim explained that battling the fluctuations in his mood was the most challenging part of his major junior hockey experience. Paul shared a similar experience noting that, for him, “winning was the best thing in the world” and, conversely, “when it’s not going right you’re kind of moody and you’re kind of mad, you’re kind of on edge all the time.” Fluctuating emotions were described to be “flagged to the fortunes of the team at the given time” (Tim). Scott indicated that these cycling emotions could be dependent, not only,on winning or losing, but on ice time opportunities as well, noting “I’d be upset or rattled and that because ‘oh, I didn’t play tonight’ or I’d be happy because ‘yeah, like I got the chance to play’… the emotional rollercoaster side of it.”

Conclusion

Participants in this study described many similar athletic career experiences. Although participants acknowledged benefits of personal development and the formation of lifelong friendships while playing in the CHL, the perceived lack of control over career trajectories was recounted as an ongoing difficulty throughout participants’ athletic careers. The stigma and shame associated with pursuing support silenced participants and prevented them from seeking resources when coping with physical and emotional challenges. The majority of participants articulated an intense, and often singular focus on their athletic career while playing in the CHL. When this commitment was challenged by unmet person- al expectations, coaching difficulties, and organizational decisions that benefited “the business,” participants described a loss of self-confidence and a degree of emotional instability.

Although the amateur sporting structure of the CHL is unique (Allain, 2013), the experiences that former CHL players in this study described as having impacted their athletic career experiences and transitions were not. A meta-analysis by Park
et al. (2013) identified several factors that have been associated with the quality of athletic career transitions, including athletic identity, voluntariness of the retirement transition, injuries, sport career achievement, and relationships with coaching staff. The participants in this study also discussed most of these factors; however, the organization and culture of the CHL seems to result in participants experiencing a high number of experiences associated with athletic career transition difficulties and a relatively low number of perceived resources. In accordance with Stambulova’s (2003) athletic career transition model, this mismatch between resources and barriers leaves athletes at a greater risk of maladaptive transitions and a greater need for intervention.

This research study intended to explore the athletic career experiences of former major junior hockey players, and although it is not designed to represent the experiences of all CHL athletes, this study provides a representation of multi-level factors that interact and inter- connect to impact athletic career experiences and subsequent athletic retirement transitions. The athletic career transitions of participants in the current study were not solely impacted by individual factors including age, athletic ability, and physical aptitudes (Patton & McMahon, 2014). Rather, the social system of teammates, coaches, parents, and sport culture also played a significant role in how participants experience their athletic careers and, subsequently, their athletic career transitions (Mc- Mahon, 2005). The findings, taken together, have the potential to enhance career practitioner understandings of the sporting environment and the specific experiences of this unique group of athletes. As such, career transition assistance and interventions should take into account the competition level, sport, and athlete age (McKnight, Bernes, Gunn, Chorney, Orr, & Bardick, 2009) as well as environmental factors (e.g. culture, sport context, sport structure; Park et al., 2013).

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