Katie and I are enormous hockey fans and are very proud that Embrace Niagara features a series articles on the Niagara Ice Dogs over the course of the 2012-2013 season. As the focus of our site is on life in the Niagara region rather than specifically on sports or hockey, we will try to look at things from a slightly different perspective.
In this article we focus on the partnership between our local educational institutions and the Niagara Ice Dogs written by Guest Contributor, Susan Tromanhauser. Susan is a Niagara resident, a published writer and regular contributor to both OHLwriters.com and In The O radio show. Susan covered the Niagara Icedogs as they went on their run to the OHL Finals last season.
Heading to the “Jack” for a Niagara Ice Dog game you know you are going to see great OHL hockey and perhaps be treated to a snack and a beverage or two. However there is a lot of behind the scenes activity making game day operate smoothly. A lot of unseen work is provided by young, energetic interns making their way into the business of sport.
The arrival of the Ice Dogs to the Niagara Region five years ago meant the beginning of a great partnership between the team and post-secondary programmes at both Niagara College and Brock University. An intern provides unpaid work for the team but in return receives experience in their chosen field, academic credits, networking opportunities but most importantly a chance to taste what it is really like in the world of professional sports. For some it is an eye opener to see beyond the glamour of the sport and realize that OHL hockey truly is a business with the focus of dollar as the bottom line.
Team Owner and President, Denise Burke is thrilled to have the “extra hands on ship” through the intern programme.
There is no task too big or too small; they put their heart and soul into it …because this is what they want to do for their career. – Denise Burke speaking about the Ice Dogs’ Interns
The tasks involved with the internship programme range from the grunt work of game day interns setting up parting signs and rolling out the carpet for the opening ceremonies to writing media reports and assisting with the team’s website.
Last year’s media intern Alex Macdonald loved coming to the rink. Once his pre-game tasks of ensuring media personnel’s needs were met once the game started, he sat in the stands and tweeted as he was responsible for the team’s social media. Not being paid for his efforts did not discourage Macdonald. In addition to receiving school credits and work experience, Macdonald enjoyed the kibitzing with media professionals as well as getting to know the players.
“Presumably in five years they will be in the NHL and I can tell my buddies yeah, I know those guys” Macdonald graduated last spring and is currently employed with Adidas.
An internship is a great start to learn what a professional sports team is all about. Interns from the Ice Dogs have gone on to work with other professional teams and the Ice Dogs do use their internship programme as a hiring pool.
Nino Bourikas completed an internship with the Ice Dogs responsible for game day operations. He took his love of sports management to Florida where he completed a Masters degree. With his internship experience and additional education Bourikas landed a full-time position responsible for group sales and promotions. Nick Williams, manager of game day and promotions is another example of an Ice Dog intern’s work ethic impressing enough to earn a full-time position.
NINO BOURIKAS – Group Sales & Community Relations Coordinator
So the next time you are at an Ice Dog game take a look around. That twenty-something young person with the earnest face you see scurrying around may just be an unpaid intern learning skills to one day enter the competitive field of the professional sports market.
Read our previous article on the Ice Dogs: Niagara Icedogs: Off-Season with the Burke Brothers