Degrees: Bachelor of Exercise & Sport Science, Master of Science (in Sport Psychology)
Graduated: 2002 (BESS), 2006 (M.Sc.)
Employed as: Coordinator, Winnipeg in motion
It’s always nice when you can find common ground between your job and your hobbies.
It’s even better when that same common ground exists between your job and your hobbies and your other job.
That’s the case with Deanna Betteridge, a lifelong sports enthusiast whose day job – as an in motion coordinator with Winnipeg in motion – gives her the opportunity to affect change on entire communities, helping members find ways to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.
But Betteridge’s other job – that of a mental trainer who helps athletes achieve their ideal performance state – also allows her to affect similar changes, albeit on an individual level. And of course, both jobs provide plenty of inspiration for Betteridge herself to stay active.
“It’s a perfect fit,” says Betteridge, a University of Manitoba alum who graduated from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management.
“Winnipeg in motion looks at population-level behaviour change, whereas my work with athletes is more of an individual-level behaviour change. Finding out why people do or do not respond to something at both an individual level and a population level is very similar. So there’s a ton of overlap.”
Born and raised in British Columbia, where she was an avid baseball player and figure skater as a teen, Betteridge came to Winnipeg after high school to pursue a kinesiology-based sport psychology degree.
And even though her pilgrimage was initially inspired by the presence of sport psychology expert Dr. Cal Botterill – then a professor at the University of Winnipeg – Betteridge preferred the more “well-rounded degree” offered through the U of M, eventually earning both a Bachelor of Exercise & Sport Science degree in 2002 and a Master of Science (in Sport Psychology) degree in 2006.
“I love the mental part of sport,” says Betteridge. “I love how performance can be made or broken by what goes on in your head: how prepared you are, and how able you are to deal with distractions. I could have used someone like me back in the day when I was competitive in sport. I never had that opportunity to work with a sport psychology consultant or a mental trainer, but I think that opportunity to build skills at a really early age – how to deal with distractions, or how to deal with failure – is really important. Important in life, not just in sport.”
As a mental trainer, Betteridge works primarily with members of local curling teams and with Special Olympics athletes from both Team Manitoba and Team Canada.
Her consultations are informal (“I don’t even own a couch,” she quips), and she’s quick to point out that mental training is now an accepted part of “performance enhancement” regimens – on par with nutrition and biomechanics – as opposed to in years past, when it was only invoked after an athlete encountered some kind of problem.
“Your ideal performance state as a person informs your ideal performance state as an athlete,” she says, “so it’s about working with life balance, finding out what components make you perform ideally, being able to focus appropriately, let go appropriately, process emotions appropriately. It’s this whole emotional intelligence, and being aware of our feelings and thoughts, and how our feelings and thoughts impact our behaviour.”
Just as ideal performance states inform an athlete’s performance, Betteridge’s sport psychology background informs her work with in motion, an organization dedicated to increasing activity levels in communities throughout the city. A partnership between the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the City of Winnipeg and the U of M (the latter led by FKRM’s Health, Leisure and Human Performance Research Institute), in motion is a population-based strategy that seeks to promote physical activity for health, well-being and enjoyment, one in which the term “community” applies to everything from geographically-based areas, aboriginal populations and immigrant/refugee groups to senior citizens, pre-school students and recipients of primary care.
“We work with them from a community-development perspective, assessing what their needs are, where they are at, and how we can assist them in breaking down barriers and increasing opportunities while building the capacity to sustain whatever it is they’re doing,” she explains, adding in motionadheres to a strict “best practice” policy.
“The idea is that you can work with (communities) to get it going, build the resources and the foundation, and then back off and be a behind-the-scenes supporter. We don’t offer ‘programs’ quote-unquote, but we work with communities to develop programs that work for them.”
Introduced to Winnipeg in 2005 (Betteridge was hired in 2007), in motion recently underwent its first awareness survey, the results of which have yet to be released. But with statistics showing the general population is still a long way off from meeting even the minimum recommended physical activity levels, it’s clear Betteridge and her colleagues in the health and wellness community will have their work cut out for them for years to come.
“We know that awareness isn’t enough, because awareness doesn’t translate to behaviour change,” she says.
“So instead we’re working towards awareness coupled with skills development and increased opportunities ... That, and having the right people, the right professionals to bring different skill sets to the table, is what makes Winnipeg in motion a success.”
For more information about Winnipeg in motion, check www.winnipeginmotion.ca