Cody Yano

Marketing Specialist

"Try springing off a board and completing four and a half summersaults in two and a half seconds before landing on your head in a pool of water."

When Cody graduated from college, he was in a peculiar position: he was also retiring. A two-time national diving champion, he was leaving a career that had been his life for 17 years.

“It was a hard decision,” he says about retiring. “You lose your identity, and once you lose that, you’re lost.” Fortunately, Cody had learned a few things along the way—namely perseverance and determination and how to overcome obstacles and challenges.

“And failure is OK,” he says, adding to the lessons learned. “In sport, so many things were about failure. I had struggles and when I did overcome them and succeeded, I was so fulfilled and so happy about what I had done and accomplished.”

At six years old, Cody was already diving. To keep him active, his parents had enrolled him in the Swim Gym program at the Kinsmen Sports Centre. He was soon recruited into a competitive program, practising several times a week. As he improved, so did the number of hours in the pool. Add weight training, sport psychology, nutrition, yoga. From Grade 7 on until he retired, diving was a full-time job and lifestyle. Traditional school filled the morning. At noon, he headed to the pool.

Cody spent seven years with Canada’s national team. He competed in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the World Cup in 2014.

After high school, Cody enrolled in Digital Media and Information Technology and after one year transferred into the Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Amateur athletes need funding, and Cody applied marketing theory to attract sponsorship. CIBC, lululemon, Muscle Mlk, and Rivalus were a few of his big sponsors. Cody created targeted posts and videos that he uploaded to his Facebook page to build brand awareness among his 13,000 followers. In return, his sponsors would shout out about Canada’s diving star using their products and services.

Cody became a CIBC Team Next athlete, which came with funding and dedicated mentorship from Kyle Shewfelt, gold medallist in artistic gymnastics. Cody also joined the marketing team at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. That experience was an up-close look at marketing tactics that create brand awareness.

When he graduated from the four-year marketing program in spring 2016, Cody was feeling the pain. Three degenerative discs in his lower back meant he could longer train hard enough to complete at his level—so he retired—which wasn’t easy.

But diving is a very mental sport. And Cody knew how to come back after dashed expectations. He took his skills to lululemon, where he led a team of more than 40 educators to achieve company targets and goals. The role included planning and executing strategies to grow brand awareness and reputation. In 2017, he joined priMED as a marketing co-ordinator. He created promotional materials and managed trade shows and digital media channels to drive brand awareness.

In 2018, he joined Focus.

When you’re working with Cody, don’t misinterpret his relaxed attitude. Diving teaches you how to manage stress. Try springing off a board and completing four and a half summersaults in two and a half seconds before landing on your head in a pool of water.