Speaker Bios

Jennifer Sygo M.Sc., RD

Jennifer Sygo is the Performance Nutritionist for the Toronto Raptors (NBA).

Jennifer Sygo is a dietitian, sports nutritionist, author, and speaker specializing in nutrition for prevention and performance.

After completing an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at McMaster University and a Masters of Science in Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, specializing in Nutrition, Exercise, and Metabolism from the University of Guelph, Jennifer joined the team at Cleveland Clinic Canada in 2006, where she uses evidence-based strategies to help busy professionals, athletes, and active individuals make simple dietary changes to improve their health and performance, and reduce their risk of disease.

A leading sport nutritionist, Jennifer works with athletes ranging from weekend warriors to athletes in the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and professional tennis.  She has provided nutrition services for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Triathlon Canada, and currently serves as team dietitian for the Toronto Raptors, Athletics Canada, Swimming Canada, and Gymnastics Canada.  



Wayne McNeil

Wayne McNeil was Trustee and Vice-Chairman of the Rocky View School Division, volunteer President of the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation, which raised over $1.2 Million during the 1998 Cross-Canada Skate to raise awareness for the prevention of child abuse, served as Chairman of the Alberta Gymnastics Federation for six years and served for 6 years as founding Board member of the Calgary and Area Child Advocacy Centre.

These volunteer roles and his commitment to child advocacy lead Wayne to co-found Respect Group; Canada’s first, on-line, abuse, discrimination, bullying and harassment prevention training program for community/sport organizations, schools and corporations.

Wayne has a seasoned, professional background in Information Technology and Project Management that he developed through key global positions with Bell Canada, 3Com Corporation and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). This strong IT expertise enabled Wayne to create a solid team and technology approach for Respect Group. Wayne was instrumental in forging an exclusive partnership with the Canadian Red Cross to combine Canada’s best abuse, bullying and harassment prevention curriculum (Respect Education) with Respect Group ‘s world-class, on-line training technology.

In 2007, Wayne was awarded the Canadian Red Cross Caring Award for his leadership in the promotion of violence and abuse prevention education.

Brent Barootes

Brent Barootes is President and CEO of the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists®, an Alberta based national sponsorship / sport marketing consulting firm.  In the past 30 years Brent has worked directly or indirectly with many local, provincial and national sport organizations, Canadian brands, corporations, small and medium businesses as well as municipalities, sport and recreation departments, charities, non profits and professional sports teams, to develop, audit, enhance, design, and build effective sponsorship marketing programs for them. Brent excels in develop of sponsorship asset inventory and valuation as well as working with clients one on one or in group training in areas of prospect development, getting meetings, discovery session, proposal development, negotiation, activation and fulfillment.

In addition, his role directly with the charitable sector as a Director of Development, his tenure of a decade in the sport marketing industry with two NHL franchise properties combined with his role on several non profit Boards and dealing with organizational bankruptcy in an orderly fashion for member associations and societies his expertise is far reaching and well integrated.

Brent is also the author of Amazon.ca’s #1 Best seller in the Nonprofit Marketing and Communications category; Reality Check – Straight Talk about Sponsorship Marketing. Brent is a regular speaker at conferences and conventions as well as a TEDx presenter on “Busting the Work-Life Balance Myth”.

LJ Bartle

LJ Bartle is a former CBC journalist and business executive who has worked professionally or voluntarily with sport for most of her life. As a certified investigator with expertise in policy and quality assurance, LJ has been helping organizations strategically enhance their operations and vision by leveraging resources they already have. This includes safe sport implementation where LJ is promoting collaborative, realistic approaches that create an aligned system of policy, training and resources.  LJ joined Sport Law & Strategy Group in 2018 and is thrilled to be part of a positive culture shift in sport.



Kristopher Wells PhD.

Dr. Kristopher Wells is the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth. Dr. Wells is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Care, Faculty of Health and Community Studies at MacEwan University. His scholarly work specializes in sexual and gender minority youth, health, education, sport, and culture. Currently, Dr. Wells serves as the Co-Editor of the International Journal of LGBT Youth and has been engaged in many ground-breaking educational projects such NoHomophobes.com and Pride Tape. Dr. Wells’ early career work has been recognized with over 50 scholarly and community awards and recognitions including the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Public Education Award, University of Alberta’s Alumni Horizon Award, and an Alberta Centennial Medallion. 



Hamish Black

Western Canada Co-chair – You Can Play

Hamish Black’s athlete pursuit was anything but conventional. Hamish began speed skating at the age of 25, and while this is well past when most athletes begin their completive journeys, Hamish went from rookie to earning a training spot with the Canadian Senior National Team in just two years. Hamish’s competitive pursuit lead him to skating in the Canadian Olympic trials only three and half years after first lacing up long track skates.

Hamish joined You Can Play in 2015 as an athlete ambassador and in October of 2017 stepped into the role as the Western Canadian Co-chair. Now, Hamish engages with sporting organizations across Western Canada, from the pro level, including the Calgary Flames, Roughnecks and Stampeders, to grassroots young, recreational athletes and fans. Through YCP, Hamish’s goal is to advocate and educate the importance of inclusion in sport at all levels.

Having the opportunity to compete as an openly gay athlete, Hamish is motivated to advocate for anyone involved in sports wishing to compete as their authentic self. One of Hamish’s passions is getting the opportunity to speak to young athletes and students and spread the message “If you can, you can play”.

Matt Bain MEd, MA specializes in Sport Psychology, Mental Training, and Individual Counselling

Matt is a passionate speaker and professional in psychology. He is a Registered Provisional Psychologist and a Mental Performance Consultant with the Canadian Sport Psychology Association. Matt holds Masters degrees in Education and a Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology and is currently navigating the doctoral process with the University of Queensland, focusing on personality, motivation, and high performance athletes. Matt has worked with, and feels a great deal of joy in working with athletes at all levels.  Each level brings unique challenges. Having worked with athletes across multiple stages of development, the relationship with anxiety often crosses these stages with the athlete. Many factors are related to anxiety so managing these factors can become exhausting. Instead, helping the athlete develop a relationship with anxiety can strengthen an understanding for this unique pairing throughout the athlete lifespan.


Ron Thomson

Ron has been a long time coach and employee at GPRC between the Physical Education and Kinesiology Department and the Sport, Fitness and Wellness Department.  Over this time he has coached for a total of 21 varsity volleyball seasons (14 Men, 7 Women) and filled several administrative and teaching roles. Ron has a Masters Degree in Coaching Studies and has been a leader in coach education throughout the Province. Presently coaching in the Wolves Volleyball Club keeps him involved in the coaching scene.  Ron is coming off back to back provincial championship seasons with a Wolves U16 and U17 Girls team and has recently been inducted into the Volleyball Alberta Hall of Fame in the Coaching category.  As long time resident in the Peace Country Ron is passionate about sport development in our region.




James Phillips

James completed his Bachelors in Human Kinetics (Honours) from the University of Windsor. After completing his collegiate/junior football career he looked for ways to stay involved with sports at an elite level and stumbled upon Strength & Conditioning. Since then, he has been following his passion as a collegiate strength coach for almost 7 years.

James joined GPRC in 2017 serving as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for both the Wolves varsity teams and Alberta Sport Development Centre–Northwest. Since that time he has taken on the role of ASDC Coordinator while continuing to act as the strength coach for both organizations. 

In his free time James can be found in the gym training for the sports of powerlifting and weightlifting. He also recently started running and is hoping to complete a marathon in 2019. When he’s not in the gym or working, James volunteers his time to coach high school football with the Grande Prairie Composite Warriors.

Jodi Minton

Jodi Minton was born and raised in Grande Prairie and has always been involved in sport in some capacity, either as an athlete, coach, official or parent volunteer. Jodi is the Be Fit For Life Centre Coordinator and has been working with community leaders across multiple sectors, developing knowledge and capacity to deliver physical literacy enriched and high quality sport programs and services in our region for over 14 years. Jodi is a CSEP- Certified Personal trainer, NCCP – Fundamental Movement Skills and Athletics Canada- Run, Jump, Throw, Wheel Learning Facilitator, as well as, Sport For Life – Physical Literacy 101, 201 and Quality Physical Literacy Experience instructor. As an active Mother of three she is extremely passionate about helping other people and communities along their physical literacy journey, in hopes of supporting a healthier, happier and more active next generation.







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