Team Behind the Team: Meet Jennifer (JJ) Hawkrigg, Olympian in snowboard & Account Executive, Marketing Partnerships at the COC
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is proud to put athletes at the heart of everything it does. At all levels of our organization, from our Board of Directors to our interns, our team is comprised of people who truly believe in the power of sport – including an impressive group of Olympians, Paralympians, Pan American Games athletes, former national team athletes, rec league athletes, and passionate sport lovers. In this series, we’ll share stories from members of our team who have competed at major multi-sport Games and who are now dedicating their professional lives to helping the next generation of Team Canada athletes live their dreams.
JJ Hawkrigg achieved her Olympic goals by competing in the parallel giant slalom snowboard event at Beijing 2022. Born and raised in Toronto, she graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor of Commerce.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
What does sport mean to you?
Sport really created a foundation for me for everything. Work ethic and teamwork are principles that I learned from a really young age that were so important to bring into all aspects of my life as I became a professional snowboarder. I think on a larger scale, especially in Canada, sport has the ability to bring people together. That’s why it’s so important to me. Not only has it shaped my life, but it has the ability to change the lives of so many.
What do you bring to your role at the COC as an Olympian?
The strength that I bring to this role is that I’ve seen the Olympic Games from all levels. As an athlete, I’ve seen the direct impact that partners have had on my journey to reach my Olympic dreams. In my role, I am always thinking about the impact we can make from the very top to the very bottom, from grassroots to high performance athletes: how can we activate a partnership to provide more opportunities for athletes in Canada, just knowing that financials are a big struggle for Canadian athletes.
Is there a specific experience you had with a partner that impacted you and you want to bring into this role?
The partnership that truly made my Olympic dream come true was with RBC. I truthfully didn’t have high hopes of getting into the RBC Olympians program. I almost retired from sport because I didn’t think there was an opportunity for me to excel in school and sport at the same time. Thankfully, I was accepted, and I was able to be an in-office athlete, where I worked on their Olympic partnership team for three years. I was able to have the flexibility of working for them, as well as competing full time. The program was a lifeboat for me to make my Olympic dreams come true in 2022.
What is the significance of the COC having so many athletes on staff?
I have always admired Olympians who have gone on to make a large impact in the sports space or in the corporate world in general. That’s always been a priority of mine. I always wanted to reach my athletic goals. I even wrote a letter to myself when I was 12 saying I wanted to go to the Olympic Games one day.
More recently, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to continue to grow the Olympic Movement in Canada, which is why it was always a dream for me to work at the Canadian Olympic Committee. Seeing that there are 20 Olympians, Paralympians, and Pan American Games athletes on staff and on the Board of Directors at the Canadian Olympic Committee and Foundation, is quite crazy being a small organization. Decisions are being made taking into account Olympians and athletes who have been through it, who have lived it, and know what it means to be a Canadian athlete and to dedicate your entire life to making this dream come true.