What is your position?
I am the design manager for a tier 2 junior hockey team as well as two tier 3 teams. This means that the team comes to me for graphic design, web design, jersey/clothing designs, logos, posters, etc. I do a lot of photography for the teams as well. I cover majority of the content on social media as well as the overall design of the websites. I’ve also worked on a lot of projects that we use as promotional material such as a comic book and a replica jersey for kids.
Tell me a little bit about why you were interested in joining the sports industry?
I’ve wanted to work in hockey since I was 13 or 14. I used to see these amazing jersey designs and photo edits that teams would post online and I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do. I have admired the Chicago Blackhawks design department for years and that would be my ideal work place, but right now I’m just working toward getting into the majors.
Did you ever feel that being a woman was a hindrance in your role? Do you see lack of representation of women where you work?
Personally I think that I can do my job just as well as anyone else, but I do deal with sexism on a pretty regular basis. It doesn’t always interfere with my work, but sometimes it does and it causes me to have to talk alternate routes to get my work done. Sometimes that’s asking one of my male coworkers to get the information from coaching staff that I need because he is more likely to be given it without question even though he would never need it. We have a small staff where I work. There are only about 13 staff members and 3 of us are women. I do think that in hockey in general we see a lack of female representation. I can’t speak for all leagues, but I do see a significant disparity in the junior leagues especially.
What advice would you give to women who wish to enter the industry?
Honestly by biggest piece of advice for women who want to work in hockey or sports is have a tough skin. The job is already strenuous, but adding on some misogyny and the occasional sexual harassment it tends to make it even harder. The biggest thing to remember is that they are wrong and you don’t owe them anything. You must have a tough skin because working in sports is so much fun and I love my job, but you will deal with people who don’t think you belong. Stand your ground and prove them wrong.
What do you love about working in sports/where you work?
I have met so many amazing people through my job. In junior hockey, we have players ages 16-21 who come from all over the world to play for our team to try and get scouted into the NHL or get offered scholarships to play hockey in college. I currently know 2 players who are playing in the NHL who have found their start through our junior hockey. I also just love what I do. I love design work. It is true that if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life. It gets stressful, but I really do love what I do. I love seeing my designs spread all over the world.
Do you have a mentor in the industry? Do you think female mentorship would help increase female visibility in sports?
I don’t have a mentor in the industry although I wish I did. I got into this industry by just playing trial and error until I figured out what worked for me. I was fortunate that way. I definitely think having a female mentor could help increase female visibility, but I think more importantly it would help young women who are trying to break into the field to have the knowledge of how to succeed as a woman in sports. It’s not easy and I have pretty much had to figure it out on my own. I feel like that would be the biggest increase for visibility is for more people to feel comfortable and confident in their positions.
Are there any groups and organizations that you recommend college women join?
I didn’t get into sports though college groups or organizations, but I will say that the best advice I can give is to get your foot in the door. It doesn’t matter how small and seemingly insignificant. Sports tend to be fairly tight knit communities and you never know who will know someone that could help you move up. I think the most important thing is to just get your foot in the door.