Last Thursday, the Sport Management Council held an event for Sport Management students, which was an inaugural conference, entitled “Hockey-at-a-Glance,” giving students the opportunity to learn about careers in the hockey industry. The conference consisted of two sports panels, a PowerPoint presentation and a chance for students to network with the speakers after the conference.
The first panel consisted of Caitlin Bolitho who is the Service and Retention Executive of ticket sales for the Hamilton Bulldogs and 2013 Brock SPMA alumni. Second up was Richard Ennis, team psychologist for the Kitchener Rangers, and Darryl Dionne who works for the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA).
The panel started off with each individual explaining their positions and answered a series of questions. To start, Ennis opened the panel by explaining that he works with Kitchener Ranger players who are dealing with mental issues both on and off the ice while helping them get mentally prepared for big games like the playoffs.
When asked why a team psychologist is so important to a hockey team, shockingly Ennis explained that when he asks how stressed players are from a scale from one per cent to 100 per cent, most players range from 70 to 90 per cent stressed, therefore it is essential to have a team psychologist help the players with any mental issues they may be suffering.
Ennis was then asked what has been the best part of his career. He explained that he was recently deeply touched by a former minor midget player he used to help. The former player, who is now majoring in Kinesiology approached Ennis asking him if he could look over the student’s essay. Ennis was then touched by this student’s essay as it regarded the student’s minor midget years and how Ennis helped the player grow as a hockey player and good person overall.
Next to speak, was Dionne who formally worked for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Marketing department but now works for the PHPA. Dionne explained that he wears many hats in the PHPA as he deals with many business operations and ensures that they run smoothly.
Within the PHPA, they deal with players who play in leagues such as the AHL, CHL, OHL and even the NHL. Dionne, along with other colleagues deal with issues such as player contracts, salaries, injuries, etc.
Dionne explained that a situation that may occur within the PHPA is dealing with a player who has been caught using performance-enhancing substances. If this player was caught taking performance enhancers in the NHL, then it is up to Dionne and his colleagues to determine if the player was taking these drugs while playing in the minor leagues to determine what would be the most suitable form of discipline.
Next to speak was Bolitho who works in ticket sales for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Bolitho explains that her duty as a Retention Executive is not limited to one specific job but her overall main purpose is to build relationships with season ticket holders.
Bolitho explained, “at the end of the day, [season ticket holders] are your biggest fans and they’re going to tell everyone about the game so it’s important to reach out to them so they promote the team.” In order to ensure this happens, Bolitho can be found doing many things to build relationships with ticket holders. She can be found speaking on the phone promoting sales to ticket holders or even walking around the arena during a game and selling 50/50 tickets.
After each speaker had the chance to explain their career, the panel was open to all speakers to discuss how to become successful in the hockey industry. When asked how to be successful in the hockey industry, each speaker essentially all said the same thing: networking and internships.
They all explained that if they were going to hire someone for their hockey team, they don’t care if the applicant knows everything there is to know about hockey. They want to see that they’re going to be hard working and have the experience needed to qualify for a job so internships are extremely valuable and also land you a job.
They also agreed that when working in internships it is essential to network with those you’re working with during the internship because it allows one to make professional relationships that could help you with your future career in the sports industry.
After a short intermission, the president and owner of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Denise Burke, gave a PowerPoint presentation on how her and her husband came to be owners of the Ice Dogs.
After working with her husband and building her husband’s printing company from a two million dollar company to a 50 million dollar company, she and her husband purchased the Mississauga Ice Dogs and relocated them to the Niagara region.
Burke explained the issues that followed with purchasing the team as they had issues finding an actual city for the team, a venue, staff and even simple office supplies.
After five successful years with the team playing in the deteriorating Gatorade Garden City Complex, the Burke’s launched the construction of the new arena for the Ice Dogs now known as the Meridian Centre.
Burke explained that in order to keep fans coming to games, the Burke’s make it essential that the Ice Dogs are involved with the community. The Ice Dogs often visit local schools where students can meet the players and take pictures with the Ice Dogs’ mascot Bones. The Ice Dogs often give speeches about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. This year they are raising awareness for anti-bullying.
Burke ended the presentation with a word of advice. She stressed to students to not be afraid of hard work. Like the panelists said, you may know everything there is to know about hockey but if you can’t prove that you’re willing to work hard and don’t have the work experience, it shows that you’re not suitable for the job and won’t get done what is expected.
The final panel consisted of Matthew McGuffin who scouts players in the GTA for the Kitchener Rangers and is the president for McGuffin Hockey Inc., a mentor program that McGuffin has made available for up-and-coming hockey players. The second panelist was Jordan Bean who is a video coach and statistical analyst for the Kitchener Rangers.
When asked about their careers, McGuffin opened the panel explaining how he is a part-time scout working for the Kitchener Rangers while working full-time for Air Canada. McGuffin, who used to play organized hockey until the age of 24, explained that with his scouting career with the Kitchener Rangers, he would like to retire from that job by the age of 49 and start scouting for the NHL full time.
Bean spoke next as he explained his day-to-day activities as a video coach and statistical analyst. In terms of the video side of things, Bean prepares game film for coaches. During games, he communicates with assistant coaches and finds out what the coaches want to see on film for future reference.
In the statistical side of things, Bean can be found spending countless hours watching one single game as he marks down every single play that is made during a game and recording the stats which are later put into a database for his team and other teams to learn from and help them better prepare for games.
When asked how to become successful in the hockey industry, both Bean and McGuffin explained that it is essential to prove how you’re better than hundreds of others who may be applying for the same job you are applying for. Bean gave credit to the students who attended the conference as that proved that the students went out of their way to learn about the hockey industry while others could be found at home doing nothing.
McGuffin explained how it is essential to make yourself known to those you are working with and make yourself known as the “go to guy”.
Lastly, the panel was ended with a word of advice with Bean saying, “Don’t be afraid to ask.” He explained that you shouldn’t be worried about annoying someone because the worst thing that can happen from asking something is being told no. If anything it shows that you are interested in what you are trying to achieve.
Assistant Sports Editor