Bill Othmer has been part of the Sport North Federation for more than 30 years and his new role will see him shape the course of the federation for the foreseeable future.
Othmer was named the new executive director of Sport North late last month. He had been the acting executive director since February 2021 and, before that, interim executive director following the retirement of Doug Rentmeister in October 2020.
“I’m happy to get it,” said Othmer. “It was a two-year job interview of sorts and now that I’m in, I’m hoping to be the face of the federation.”
Othmer moved to the NWT in 1985 and served as a recreation director in multiple communities before being hired by the federation in 1991, where he served as the manager of sport programs, the same position he continued to hold in addition to being acting executive director. He’s also served as chef de mission for Team NT at both the Canada Winter/Summer Games and Arctic Winter Games.
Othmer’s ascendancy to the position wasn’t simply a removal of the “acting” title — he, like anyone else who wanted the role, had to properly apply and go through the interview process.
Colin Pybus, Sport North’s president, said there was plenty of interest in the job, both domestically and internationally.
“I’m happy with the net that we cast because it yielded an amazing pool of candidates,” he said. “We’ve gone through this hurdle now and we have a permanent person in place, and there’s a lot of work that has to be addressed.”
That work includes preparing for one of the busiest times ever seen for Sport North, which runs the Team NT program. First up is the Canada Summer Games in August in Ontario, followed by the Arctic Winter Games in Wood Buffalo, Alta., in January 2023. Then comes the Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown in March 2023.
Like any new person in a supervisory role, Othmer has some ideas he wants to implement and they boil down to four R’s: reinforcement, reimagining, reconnecting and refining.
“I want to reinforce the hard work being done by the TSOs (territorial sport organizations),” he said. “A lot of sports haven’t been around for the past two years and so I want to make the effort to meet with each TSO, either their executive director or president, and come up with three good things and three challenges. Bottle all those up and create a new strategic plan for the federation based off of what I hear.”
The reimagining part comes in terms of finding new opportunities for funding, he said.
“Things like engaging the business community, and I understand they’re coming out of the pandemic in a tough way as well as our TSOs,” he said. “I just want to make sure all of our TSOs are doing well financially. “
When it comes to reconnecting and refining, Othmer said that means seeing what the needs of the TSOs are.
“If we can help with camps or workshops or facilities, whatever it is,” he said. “The TSOs have lost a lot because of Covid-19 and they need help to try and get back into business. Refining what we do well is big because we can’t be everything to everyone. We deliver major games, we help with membership services but I want to try and sit in on meetings, talk with them more and not just be some name people hear about. I want to be the face of the federation because without the TSOs, we don’t exist.”