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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Rick Traer retiring after 21 years as Sport Tourism Canada’s founding CEO

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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

Rick Traer. Photo provided

By Martin Cleary

Sometime after July 31, Rick Traer can hang out a new shingle at his home. He can take down the one reading Sports Administrator and replace it with two signs: Retired and Grandfather.

Following a delay of one year, Traer announced this week he will step down after 21 years as the first and only CEO of Sport Tourism Canada effective at the end of July. The organization was founded in 2000.

Traer planned to retire last year and a succession plan had been put in place. But Grant MacDonald, who will be his successor, wasn’t finished as GM of the 2020 world women’s hockey championship, which had been postponed because of COVID-19.

The world championships recently were postponed a second time in Halifax because of the pandemic and its future is up in the air. MacDonald also is the Sport Tourism Canada head of consulting.

Catherine Traer and Tommy Scrubb. Photo: Stephanie Mason

“We adapted a bit and delayed it until he’s (MacDonald) available,” said Traer, who will use June and July to transition out of his CEO position and joyfully slide into his role as a grandfather.

On Sunday, his daughter Catherine Traer gave birth to Isaiah Winston Scrubb, who weighed eight pounds, nine ounces and was 21 inches long. Catherine and husband Tommy Scrubb were former Carleton University basketball stars.

“We’re thrilled. My wife is going crazy because we can’t visit,” said Traer, who added it’s going to be a special time to be a grandfather. “Tommy and Catherine have a house five minutes from us, right down the street. We’re anxious for them to get home to reconnect and to see the new arrival.”

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Tommy plays for JL Bourg in France and his team’s playoffs could go to mid June. He also is expected to play for Team Canada at the Olympic trials.

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Twenty-one years ago, Traer, 65, was the founding CEO of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, which became Sport Tourism Canada in 2020. He also is one of the longest serving CEOs in the Canadian sport system and tourism industry.

“We pretty much started it from scratch. Not much existed 20 years ago. We established it as a significant contribution to the sport tourism industry,” said Traer, who has seen phenomenal growth over two decades.

Beginning with 18 founding municipal members in 2000, the organization has grown to more than 500 members, including 140 municipalities and 300-plus national and provincial sports organizations.

Traer took Team Canada delegations to many international conferences, which earned more than 100 competitions for bidding cities across the country. Canada also has consistently been ranked a top-10 host nation.

He also oversaw the development of the Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model, which is the world’s first web-based application specifically designed to predict and measure a sport event’s economic impact on a community.

A former University of Ottawa basketball player, Traer has deep national/international roots in the sport. He spent 11 years at Canada Basketball as technical director (1986-89) and executive director (1989-97).

He was elected to serve two terms as president of the FIBA Americas zone, which is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 2000-03 and 2003-06. He also became past president in 2007.

Traer was a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee from 1993-97, as well as the Association of Pan American Sport Confederations from 1998-2006.

When he’s retired, Traer will remain on the board of directors of the International Association of Event Hosts, and will serve as honorary president of the FIBA Americas zone.

Rick Traer’s daughter Catherine played for Canada on the FIBA 3×3 circuit, including at the West Edmonton Mall. File photo

Traer is crossing his fingers the Canadian men’s basketball team can survive the Olympic trials in Victoria and join the women’s team at the scheduled Tokyo Olympics. Both teams are medal candidates.

“It really is a golden age for Canadian basketball,” he said. “It has been a long time coming. God forbid the trials and Olympics don’t happen. This will be a coming out year for the teams.

“The women are outstanding and a medal contender. If the men can attract a critical mass of its best players, we’re right there knocking on the door.”

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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