This year, five people received the Dedication to CAF Sports Award from the CDS. Two of the five recipients are fellow engineers; Maj Michael Mueller for Running and WO Clint Killam for Basketball. The Dedication to CAF Sports Award is presented annually for the outstanding contributions of a group or an individual who have gone above and beyond to promote and develop CAF sports. Maj Mueller and WO Killam dedicated significant time and effort throughout their military careers to earn this prestigious award. Below, both members have summarized their road to receiving the Award.
Warrant Officer Clint Killam - Basketball
I was shocked to have been considered for the award, let alone to have been selected as a recipient.
I joined the CAF in 2000. Upon arriving in North Bay, ON, as a Private who hardly knew anyone, I heard about dedicated basketball players who competed in a City League, ran practices and open scrimmages, and even attended regional and national events. Having played competitively in Nova Scotia from junior high to college, I willingly tried-out for the team. I was warmly welcomed and established myself as a driving force for basketball within the team and the City for the next five years.
I took the lead as head-instructor for a youth RAPTORBALL program associated with the Toronto Raptors. Our program, the only one in the province outside the Greater Toronto Area, received excellent support from 22 Wing and the Toronto Raptors. From my time dedicated to that program, the Wing basketball team, and as an assistant coach at a local high school, I was awarded Coach of the Year at 22 Wing in 2005. While in North Bay, I attended a CISM Basketball development camp that expertly demonstrated what was required to succeed as a player and a team. Unfortunately, North Bay often struggled in regional play despite a core of dedicated players.
After remustering to Firefighter, I was posted to 8 Wing Trenton and got my first taste of winning. Unlike North Bay, I joined already knowing several players through regional competitions and the team fared much better against the powerhouses of Kingston and Petawawa. Here, we won Ontario Regional Gold and competed at CAF Nationals in Borden.
Again, I was involved with a youth skills-development program, eventually becoming the lead instructor. Sadly, lacking the support of the Toronto Raptors and adequate space and funding, attendance waned and the program was cancelled.
While posted to SHIPS EAST as a Firefighter, a hectic sailing schedule prevented my participation in the Regionals. I maintained my skills and passion through a competitive Men’s’ League in the basketball hotspot of Halifax, NS, and through annual Fleet Tournaments held at Stadacona Gym.
Returning to Trenton afforded me another two years in Ontario with a very solid group of young players. However, I realized that at 38 years old and standing 5’8”, basketball WAS for younger more agile players. I used my experience to contribute off the court, resulting in a silver medal at the Nationals.
A posting to Winnipeg meant two years of hard work and skills development to establish 17 Wing as a competitive team within the Men’s City League and the Western region. For a second time, I received Coach of the Year for my efforts.
Back to Ontario where I chose to mentor a young coach instead of the players. But at 42 years old, I found myself as a starting guard, chasing players half my age. I may have seen the Grim Reaper in the stands during the 2018 Ontario Regional Championships. The following year, I was talked into lacing up my sneakers one last time for the Ontario Regionals. At opening ceremonies, I realized that, where once I was a young Private, I was now the oldest player on the court. To my surprise, I was selected as a Tournament All Star from Borden after a solid performance. Whether a vote of respect or for skillfully leading my team, I stood for photos with the other All Stars. With my grandson in the stands, I unofficially retired for the tenth consecutive year; a good way to end my competitive basketball career in the CAF, or so I thought.
With the CAF, I have trained, re-mustered, been posted and deployed, and yet wherever I go, sports allowed me to meet people of all ranks and ages, reunite with old friends and teammates, and to play a sport that I have loved since childhood. Few, if any, institutions provide the opportunity to compete in sports to the extent offered by the CAF and I have continually taken advantage of that opportunity at every rank level, across a variety of sports.
I would like to thank the teammates, support staff, chains of command, and the selection committee for this award. Without you, my basketball career with a soldier hobby would have ended long ago. Father Time really is undefeatable. Keep supporting our athletes as sometimes, it could be sport that keeps them in the CAF and contributing to the greater mission.
Organized sport has been stopped by COVID-19 and by the time it restarts, if I step on the court again, it won’t be as a quick, relentless guard or a reliable team leader, but with a whistle in my mouth as a crusty, old, has-been player… and I think a referee is the role that excites me the most of all.
Major Michael Mueller – Running
Receiving the Dedication to CAF Sports Award for a sport about which I am so passionate is a huge honour. When I enrolled, I was already a highly motivated runner who loved to race and travel but I didn’t expect my passion for running to significantly shape my service in the CAF and to take me around the world. I have managed the CAF CISM Running Team for over four years now with the mission to promote and develop running within the CAF and to identify talented and motivated runners to represent the CAF and Canada internationally. Developing and transforming running within the CAF has been extremely challenging but rewarding.
The CAF CISM running team is highly competitive, racing in cross-county and marathon events around the world. In managing the team, I have promoted operational transparency and visibility to more CAF runners, creating depth of talent. The two most challenging aspects as team manager have been the team selection process and promoting runners’ self-confidence to make the Team through dedicated effort.
Previously, the Team was not perceived as being accessible to everyone, thus, making the selection process transparent was the first implementation as team manager. At any time, race results can be submitted to the CAF CISM Running Team for selection. A Results List is compiled by race date and finish time. The Team has Performance and Developmental sections which now have access to full time one-on-one coaching.
I always take the time to answer questions as awareness and knowledge of the CAF CISM Running Team varies greatly across the CAF. Freely sharing my knowledge keeps runners motivated and participating in local races, hopefully becoming a CISM-level runner in the CAF National Running Championships. Success in running must be earned and re-earned through consistent and persistent training to develop and maintain higher levels of fitness. Helping CAF runners improve or watching top CAF runners achieve a new personal best time feeds my passion for working with the Team.
Before COVID-19, the CISM World Military athletics held marathon and cross-country championships annually. When funding was available, the CAF would send a team to both events. Team size is dictated by the host nation but typically for cross-country, a team consists of 4 women short-course, 4 men short-course, and 5 men long-course, while the marathon team consists of 4 women and 4 men. CAF CISM selection starts at the top of the Results List with the first offer going to the fastest runner.
Advice for CAF runners who are interested in the CAF CISM Running team:
- Consistent training matters;
- Never quit over set-backs, which will happen (ie running injuries, military duties taking priority);
- Making the Team is not easy. Be clear as to why you want to join;
- Make every race matter and submit your results; and
- Be the best CAF member you can be.
CAF CISM Running Team Closed Facebook Site: https://www.facebook.com/groups/848852945241093
The only requirement to join is being a CAF member.
CAF CISM Running Team Open Facebook Site: https://www.facebook.com/CISMRunningCanada.ca
To keep the CAF CISM Team training and racing during 2021, I created a virtual three-race series, open to all CAF runners wanting to join the Team in 2022. All three events must be completed for consideration in 2022, when the next CISM event is scheduled. Event one registration is open! All CAF runners welcome! https://raceroster.com/events/2021/37697/caf-cism-virtual-running-race-1
CAF CISM Running Team Virtual Running Series
For any questions about the CAF CISM Running Team, please contact: Michael.Mueller@Forces.gc.ca
Major Michael Mueller
NATO NFIU Latvia J4 Engr
CAF CISM Running Team Manager