Episode #23: Alex Gardiner
December 28, 2020
Alex Gardiner never planned to coach. His career started in a Winnipeg middle school hallway when a group of students approached him and said, “Mr. Gardiner, can you coach our track and field team?” Alex’s response was, “What do I need to do?” He was told that they (the athletes) had it under control and that he just needed to be present as the required adult supervisor. So, Alex attended practice and, because he was an English teacher, he sat on the floor and read a book. That is until he started watching what the athletes were doing. It was at this point that he became fascinated by the sport and made his foray into coaching, his life forever changed.
It has been 45 years since the simple meeting in the hallway and, in his words he’s “just getting started, he’s just learning things.” A lifelong learner, Alex’s career took him from humble beginnings in a middle school hallway to being the leadership behind Olympic gold medals. In addition to several leadership roles at Athletics Canada and work with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Alex was also the first General Manager of the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba.
Always working from a position of caring and support, Alex’s collaborative leadership style was well ahead of his time. He believes that within organizations it is imperative that a culture exists where genuine and candid conversations can occur. He also trusts coaches and athletes implicitly, noting that no one knows better about the work to be done than the athlete and the coach. His advice to everyone is to see the good side of yourself and of other people. Be patient. Talk to people that need help having their voice heard. Take the extra step.
To learn more about Alex, his caring leadership style, and his extraordinary career in sport, please join us for his conversation with Heroes in Our Midst.
“Now that my brain is thinking about the years I’ve spent – there’s probably a lot of good ones.- but I don’t let them prop me – I always want to see what’s next. I want to make sure that when I do something it has a meaning to it.”