Tennis BC is pleased to announce the appointment of our new Executive Director, Jonathan Wornell. Jonathan has an impressive track record in the sports world, most recently as E.D. for Karate BC. In the past seven years, he has led Karate BC through remarkable growth as an organization. He also helped to guide Karate BC’s members through the unique challenges brought on by the pandemic, especially in regards to return to play. Along with a sports-related background, Jonathan brings his already-established relationships with Sport BC, viaSport, and a strong sense of brand representation. Along the way, Jonathan sat on Karate Canada’s High Performance Athlete Pathway Steering Committee and the viaSport “Return to Sport” committee. He currently sits on Sport BC’s Sport Advocacy Committee which represents the interests of all 71 sport governing bodies.
Now that Jonathan has been added to the team at Tennis BC, everyone had a few “get-to-know-you” questions for Jonathan to find out what drives his love for sports:
When did you first develop a love for sports?
Jonathan: As a young kid, I had the opportunity through my parents to try many different sports, including tennis. Without understanding why as a kid, I felt the positive mental and physical benefits that sport provided as well as the sense of community that each one created. From there, I grew to understand, appreciate, and subscribe to the “Sport for Life” philosophy.
As a parent and coach of youth sport, I have been afforded the opportunity to see the value that having kids in sport brings to overall development, physically, emotionally, and socially. My wife and I are both strong advocates for sport as part of youth development and, as a family, we took this to our own level by instituting our own “philosophy” for our kids when they were starting new sports and were hesitant: “We’re Going To Make You Have Fun Whether You Like It Or Not!”
What are your past sports-leadership roles and how will they contribute going forward?
Jonathan: As mentioned, I have recently held the Executive Director position at Karate BC. I feel my knowledge and experience in the Provincial Sport world will help in growing Tennis BC.
Previous to Karate BC, I had been the Event Manager for the BMO Vancouver Marathon and was involved in the development and production of multiple large Gran Fondo cycling events. Large events have many moving pieces and logistical challenges and I have found that the skills needed to help these events grow have also helped my work in the Provincial Sport world.
Finally, I have also had the privilege to coach youth baseball and soccer teams where I learned to share my love of the benefits of sport with youth.
What is your goal for Tennis BC?
Jonathan: My goal is to help make Tennis BC a leader in the sports community by growing the sport organically at a grass-roots level. I want to assist Tennis BC’s Board of Directors in strengthening the base of tennis players in BC, making tennis a viable, accessible sport for life. I would also like to work with all stake holders to raise Tennis BC’s profile as a model for inclusivity in sport. It’s important to create a transparent and easily accessible path for young players to grow into leaders in the tennis community both recreationally and as high-performance athletes.
Why did you choose to work with Tennis BC?
Jonathan: I am excited to work with an organization that is interested in creating positive change within itself and within the greater community.
What are some of the challenges you see in your new role?
Jonathan: For me, the exciting part of taking on any new position is the learning curve to understand an organization’s strengths and challenges. What are its current strategic objectives? How is it currently functioning? And, most importantly, where could it be a few years down the road?
How do you see balancing high-performance and recreational players under the Tennis BC umbrella?
Jonathan: This is always a challenge in every sport. I believe the sport-development model is a pyramid which incorporates a strong connection between its recreational base and its high-performance athletes. Therefore, careful attention to all levels of this pyramid is important. Each sport has unique aspects to consider and this is something that I look forward to learning more about as I get to know the tennis community. One key to striking the right balance is to figure out when it is important to narrow focus and become detail orientated versus when to take a step or two back and get a greater perspective on a situation.
What is your philosophy in life?
Jonathan: My philosophy is simple: Try your best in everything you do. Be ready and willing to learn from, and sometimes laugh at, your own mistakes. Empower those around you.
Sport is an essential component of mental, social, and physical development for everyone.