Behind the Podium with Evan MacInnis
With a laser focus on the next step forward, CSI Atlantic’s Director of Performance Pathways Evan MacInnis is creating change using passion and logic to help Atlantic Canada’s coaches and athletes succeed on the national and international stage.
Whether it is his education, career or personal interest, Macinnis has never strayed far from sport. Growing up in Glace Bay, N.S. on Cape Breton Island, his family was heavily involved in the sport community, MacInnis took an interest in sport right away. From watching sports on television to being inspired by his grandfather, a member of the Cape Breton Sports Hall of Fame, and seeing where sports took him – MacInnis was ready to see where sports could take him too.
By the time he reached high school MacInnis was, as usual, already looking at his next step, his post secondary education. He had his heart set on taking a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics at Saint Francis Xavier University (StFX) having always wanted to go there. It was after his acceptance to StFX in 2001 where MacInnis was introduced to a different side of sport and found a new passion.
As a student at StFX, MacInnis got a job on campus as an Intramural Director, coordinating different recreational activities. In this position MacInnis found enjoyment in sport administration and could see himself doing something similar in his career. While his time at StFX was winding down, MacInnis was accepted to the University of New Brunswick in 2005 to begin his Master’s Degree in Sport Administration.
MacInnis worked towards completing his masters as he interned at Sport New Brunswick. He volunteered frequently, gaining experience and connections across the sport community in New Brunswick. Following his internship, MacInnis applied for an intriguing position being offered by CSI Atlantic who, at the time, shared an office with Sport New Brunswick.
Assuming his new position, MacInnis began his journey at CSI Atlantic in 2007 as one of just five staff members and became the only staff member in Fredericton, N.B. at that time. Now 16 years into his role, MacInnis has since transitioned to the CSI Atlantic office in Halifax, N.S. where he has been a staple in their success.
MacInnis has been a catalyst for the Performance Pathways Initiative since its inception in 2015. The initiative was created in partnership with sport organizations to identify the needs and gaps athletes and coaches experience along their sport pathways and to help them overcome these challenges.
Development Director at Volleyball Nova Scotia Jon Elliott has experienced first hand the benefits and support that come with the Performance Pathways Initiative while working with MacInnis over the past four years. Whether it's meeting with coaches at a breakfast diner or concocting a Dollarama inspired charcuterie board, MacInnis is dedicated to connecting with coaches and strengthening those relationships. “Evan really takes the time to listen, asking questions that help us figure out a way forward,” says Elliott, “he has a passion for supporting athletes and coaches, to help them reach their goals.”
MacInnis strikes a difficult balance between pushing for greatness and understanding that the challenges coaches and athletes face are not easy while still staying on top of the entire ecosystem. “I admire the sheer number of balls that Evan seems to be able to keep in the air,” says Elliot, “Evan knows what’s happening at provincial sport organizations, who’s performing at any given time and who’s up next, what current trends are nationally and internationally and how they will affect Atlantic Canada. Evan concentrates on what he feels matters, he knows what he is looking for and makes sure you know what it is too.”
Now seven years into the Performance Pathways Initiative New Brunswick is performing at an elite level and Nova Scotia is steadily medaling within the top five provinces at the Summer and Winter Canada Games. With Nova Scotia tying their most ever medal count at a Canada Games with 56 in 2022 at the Niagara games and recording their best performance at a Winter games with 24 medals at the 2023 games in Prince Edward Island, MacInnis’ impact on the Performance Pathways Initiative is evident. “I am motivated to help these teams succeed,” says MacInnis, “I’ve had the ability to make some good change with logic and emotion.”
MacInnis believes that although there is always more work to be done, there is pride in shocking people with the success that has been brewing in Atlantic Canadian sports. “I love the challenge, I always loved helping the underdogs and I know we can be some of the best in the world.” While concentrating on the on the road ahead, MacInnis’ curiosity and dedication to the process at CSI Atlantic is paving the way for Atlantic Canadian athletes and coaches to continue to succeed on the national and international stage, step by step.