2017Nov 14

An Interview with Maja Ronneberger

Today I will be introducing you to Maja Ronneberger, she is a SPAD grad from the class of 2007. Since graduating Laurentian Maja has gone on to work in marketing for Whistler Blackcomb, before moving back to The T1 agency working in special events.

Q.How did you get your first job after leaving SPAD?

A. I was planning on taking a year off before entering the working world. I had it all planned out going down to Australia for a holiday. I was just days away from booking my plane tickets, when I got a call from Mark Harrison (CEO, at the T1 agency) offering me a job . He was a guest professor for one class in our last year in SPAD, and he said from the start that he would offer a job to whoever got the best mark. So Mark hired me, and I worked with him in the Toronto office for a year and a half, then moving to the Calgary office for a change of scenery.

Q.How did you get your job at Whistler Blackcomb?

A. The T1 agency when I worked for them the first time, did a sponsorship conference at the Paralympic games when they were in Whistler. At the conference I met the senior VP of sales and marketing at Whistler Blackcomb. I didn’t really have a plan at that point, I resigned from the agency and took a year off traveling, worked some odd jobs. I didn’t really like anything that I was doing. So I decided to reach out to the guy that I met at the conference, which led to me getting a job in the sponsorship department.

Q.Since you have worked at both, what are the differences between working for a property and working for an agency?

A. The agency world is pretty full on, its go go go all the time. It is a very fast paced environment, the client wants everything yesterday, without you even knowing about it. The property world is slower, and the organization is bigger. So when you’re working on something five different people need to weigh in on it. Whereas in the agency world all you had to do was get your boss to sign off on it.


Q.What is a typical day like for you at your job?

A. I think if you are looking into marketing and sponsorship that there is no typical day on the job. I know that sounds cliche, but there is no typical day. Meetings do take up a lot of your day, it is very important to be efficient in meetings so that your not wasting people’s time. I spend a lot of time just being creative, thinking how we can make this better, easier, stand out more!


Q.Finally do you have any advice for someone going into the working world for the first time?

A. My advice would be to get to know as many people as possible. So networking is key, the more people you know the better! My other piece of advice would be to work hard, be dedicated, take things seriously, and always try to think a couple steps ahead. Don’t be afraid to do the dirty work, do it all! Working hard and getting to know as many people as you can, I believe will open the right doors for you.

2017Nov 14

SPAD Graduate Jonathan McNeil

Jjon mcneilonathan McNeil is a SPAD graduate of the 2007 graduating year. Since then he has had success at two separate companies in the security industry, and is currently closing in on his third year operating as the Regional Manager of Eastern Canada, at Lenel Systems International.

SPAD was not Jonathan’s original course of choice, he was leaning more towards chemical engineering, and due to a girlfriend, he chose SPAD and ended up really enjoying the course. During his time in SPAD he spent a lot of time working with extended family in marketing, where he thought he would originally end up. Along the way, with his internship, and the connections he made, those plans had changed.

Jon’s internship was with Exposoft, a company that creates software for registration at events, and the job that he was assigned to was to be a project coordinator. He chose this internship partially because it payed, and he also had a place to stay during the internship, so he could keep costs down. During this internship he met an acquaintance, who would eventually become his boss and now ex boss, and started hanging out together which would eventually lead to his firstHID_logo_3.5464d03d549f8 job.

This new friend asked him one night “would you ever do sales” and he answered with “everything you do is sales”, which lead to his first job at HID Global, who mainly deals with card readers like the ones around Laurentian University that deal with your student card. Jon places a lot of his success today with his now ex boss because he pushed his resume along to his bosses to get Jon this first job which lead to a whole new network of people and connections in the security industry. He was the youngest hire at the time, and may be still to this day, at 23 years old. Within HID he started as a regional account manager in the integration channel that dealt with system integrators or installers. His then boss got promoted, and he moved up to what was basically his bosses old job, just without the title. Which was essentially the regional manager of Canada.

During his seven years spent at HID Global, Jon gained some footing in the security industry, which would lead to his next position at Lenel Systems International, where he is today. Lenel sells software for security systems from access control, which is basically monitoring door entry, to using the Lenelsoftware for integration that can link that access control to video and audio. So, if someone opens door without access it could trigger a camera and audio device to get more information. In October 2014 a recruiter from Lenel contacted Jon and within the next four months he got his current position at Lenel as Regional Manager for Eastern Canada. This move gave him a better salary, so the move was very welcomed. This new job deals with more selling to dealers rather than before where he dealt with end users and installers.

This new job has provided him with more flexibility in terms of getting to work from home, but it does take him out town very frequently. He usually gets to be home for the weekends to spend time with his wife. Jon is really enjoying his current job and is always looking for opportunities to grow.

2017Nov 13

From Air Canada to The Air Canada Centre

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I was lucky enough to get an interview with Michael Friisdahl, which may be better known to the readers of this article as the Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. This interview was a huge experience for me, and a great chance to see what it was like to be at the top of the largest and most successful sports company in Canada. Michael was born in Denmark and moved to Canada with his parents when he was a young teenager in 1976. When he arrived in the country, he knew very little English. Since then, he has grown into a very successful businessman.
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To start the interview, I first asked him why he chose to pursue a career in the sports industry. He responded by saying, “As a matter of fact, I am relatively new to the sports and entertainment industry. I joined MLSE as President and CEO two years ago after many years in the travel industry, most recently as President and CEO of Air Canada’s Leisure Group.” Michael was actually headhunted and offered his position in MLSE.

In his short time as CEO, MLSE has hosted a number of very prominent events, including, the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend and the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic. These events have given Michael the opportunity to learn about the organization, the sports industry, and how to properly lead his company to continued success. He’s also been given the chance to work closely with many of the company’s partners, along with figuring out what he needed to do to keep the fans happy. Michael stated his feelings towards the fans, saying “One of our most important supporters is our fans and in some ways I see many similarities between my roles in the travel industry and my current role. Delivering the best experience possible for our fans is similar to my priorities for our customers when I was in the travel industry. We are proud to have some of the best fans in sports and entertainment and delivering winning teams, and the best experience possible for them, is one of our top priorities.”
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When I asked him to describe his role as CEO of the company, Michael described it by saying, “I oversee all of the different arms and business operations of the company including the teams that make up MLSE, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and our Live music business.” Working in the Air Canada Centre, as one of the busiest venues in the world, means every day brings new challenges that Michael and his team have to deal with. He continued by saying, “In my role I work to ensure that our very talented team at MLSE delivers our teams the tools they need to be successful as we work towards our goal of bringing championships to our city and our fans.” Each team, whether it be the marketing, ticketing, global partnerships or venue operations, is operated in a very sophisticated manner, run by the most talented members in the industry. Ending his response, he said, “I’m very fortunate in my role to have such a strong team and it is a privilege to lead our team and this company.”

I asked Michael to highlight a few of his accomplishments in the two years he has been in the industry, and he responded with, “Every day at MLSE sees our team accomplish some incredible things that continues to show why MLSE is one of the leaders in the industry, but one of the things that I am most proud of is our work to give back to the community and the impact it has on so many people, especially young people.” In terms of accomplishments from the teams that make up MLSE, he stated, “The Leafs, Raptors and TFC are building each season to reach contender status and TFC has enjoyed a record breaking season in 2017. We all know there is much work still to do there but that success is the reason we are all here and we’re excited about their direction.” One more accomplishment in Michael’s career, is the announcement of a new naming rights partnership with Scotiabank. “It is the largest naming rights partnership deal in sports anywhere in the world to date and it demonstrates the size, scale and importance of Toronto as a market and MLSE as a company.”

Michael Friisdahl’s early years in his career at MLSE have proven to be successful ones. For someone who could not speak english until he moved to Canada as a teenager, Michael has done amazing things and lead multiple companies to great successes in his life. Although he had minimal education, and nothing close to the experience he may have needed to run a sports company, he has done well with the career that was offered to him, that many of the people reading this now are working hard to one day achieve.

2017Nov 13

Q&A with Jamie Saull

1e250dbQ&A with Jamie Saull

Jamie is currently the Sr. Manager, Brand Solutions – Sports at Bell Media which is part of the larger Bell Media Strategic Sales Team. As Jamie puts it, “It’s a fancy way of saying I work in sport brand partnerships looking through a marketing / brand lens vs. a strictly sales-related mindset as we work with clients, agencies and partners across all brands, categories and sports”. His team’s goals and responsibilities are to make meaningful, impactful, and results-driven programs that benefit all brands involved, including TSN’s. They deal with both reactive and proactive projects – reacting to client asks and needs, while also proactively developing programs and brand strategies with the intent of driving future revenue.


EJ: What made you decide to choose SPAD over other programs?

JS: It was the only one I was accepted to (that’s a joke, though some of my profs and classmates may disagree). I always new I was going to work in sports – I just didn’t know how. First I was set on sports medicine (more laughter from the aforementioned group) and then I turned my sights towards Sport Law (again, see Medicine comment). Finally once I realized that not only would that take forever, but that I was actually pretty good at the creativity part, combined with the numbers element, I shifted focus. SPAD was the only program that offered exactly what I wanted – a Commerce-driven degree, with a focus specifically on sports. Couldn’t get any better. Believe it or not, but the fact the program was based in Sudbury wasn’t a deterrent for me. My grand-parents grew up here, and in fact, my grandfather’s family owned a small bakery across the street from the Beef ’N Bird – I think it’s now a Westons distribution center, but it used to be called Cecutti’s – which was my grandfather’s family. So aside from the program that aligned exactly where I wanted to be, I knew they also had good bread up there. Kinda checked all boxes.

EJ: If you had to pick one, what’s your most memorable moment from your time in the SPAD program?

JS: That I can repeat? Probably failing my first test – it was a kick in the nuts, that I can now say, was much needed. It provided that reality check that you need early (I got my first failure out of the way, very, very early). You learn a lot about yourself over those 4 years – a lot of which is how you handle, react and learn from (or don’t), various situations. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid if you do it over, and over and over. Non-educational? I got to emcee the Trailer Park Boys live show when they came to Sudbury in the Fraser Auditorium. I had to stand on stage in front of the entire building and try to be moderately funny as I introduced Ricky, Julian and Bubbles. I drank a lot. They drank more… it went alright.

EJ: I was reading the SPAD Alumni Profile back from 2012 and you said that after meeting Scott Moore he gave you some of the best advice you’d ever received. What advice was that? And how did it change your outlook?

JS: I used to make it a point (and still do) to be in the office before my boss every day – no real reason, it’s just something I’ve always done. I was always the first person in the room. I sat right in front of Scott. He came in one morning (he was usually in before everyone else as well) and he called me into his office. I had half my things packed and was ready to turn in my security card – no idea why, but figured why else would I be called in before anyone else got there. We spoke for a little bit, and he then said “I came across a guy early in my career who gave me great advice, that I still use to this day… he said, in his thick Scottish accent… ‘Scott… there are 3 things you should look for in people when hiring and building a team…. Attitude… attitude… and attitude’.” We spoke a little bit more about work ethic and attitude towards things, and he ended the conversation asking what my favourite sport was. I quickly said hockey and he opened a literal binder full of tickets – Raptors, Argos, TFC, Leafs… anything, and he flipped through to a page that had a pair of Leafs/Capitals tickets. He gave me the pair and said ‘attitude goes a lot further than people will likely ever acknowledge’. I got to see Alexander Ovechkin for the first time with those tickets. I took my boss because I was a kiss ass and also thought it was a test. She wound up taking us back to CBC headquarters after the Leaf game to the Hockey Night in Canada studio where we watched Game 2 of the double-header and I got to see how the magic was made. Kissing ass worked that night.

To this day, I remember that discussion. Whether I am hiring members of my own team, or working with people internally or externally, the focus is always on attitude. If you can get a sense of how someone else carries them-self, you can get a pretty good idea of how they’re going to work with you, with others and within the scope you need them to. The reality of our world is, to borrow a line from comedian Tom Segura, ‘some people suck’… it’s just the way life goes – so the attitude that you carry can help in both personal and professional settings. Attitude isn’t how you act, it’s how you approach things – different scenarios call for different tactics, but the attitude you have going in will shape that outcome.

EJ: Where did you do your internship? What was that experience like?

JS: I interned at CBC in the Media Sales & Marketing department. The experience was incredible. It was an industry and field I knew absolutely nothing about. Media is one of the more unique areas I’ve worked w263716_100530676782966_1373089684_nith and within. It changes every single day – new competitors crop up out of nowhere – some stick around, and others don’t. CBC taught me a lot about process, politics and practice. There was so much on-the-job learning that forced me to become nimble in how I approached things. There was a lot of red tape within everything we did so it taught patience and internal politicking and lobbying. There were approvals on top of approvals everywhere you looked. It was also a place that was steeped in tradition and success (Hockey Night in Canada) but it was also a place that was forced to innovate with very limited budgets and freedom to take risks given the government implications. The people there were incredible – that’s something I’ll never forget. The people make the place, the business and the brand. Whether that’s an employee or a consumer, it’s all about the people you deal with, market to, interact with, argue with, etc.

EJ: How did your internship lead to a future position?

JS: Someone had just left on the B2B Marketing team and they had an opening. Instead of posting and filling it, they gave it to me as an internship (much cheaper that way!). Once the internship ended, they still needed the body and since I’d basically just completed a 4-month interview, they offered it to be full-time. I like to think that my attitude and work ethic contributed to why they wanted me to stay. I was young, had no responsibilities, and nothing to lose. I had no excuse not to bust my ass. If after 4 months doing the job they felt I wasn’t right for it, it would have been a failure in so many ways… and as I mentioned earlier, I did my best to get my failures out of the way early in my university career.

EJ: What are some of the best experiences/moments you had at CBC?

JS: Watching Hockey Night in Canada from the studio and control room was pretty surreal. I’m constantly guilty of forgetting how lucky I am to work in the industry that I do. What we do for ‘work’ is what many people do for entertainment and leisure. Most people put their time in 9-5 and then go home to watch their Leafs, or Raptors, or TFC, or whatever it is they watch. I get to work on that stuff for a living – they pay me to do it. I feel like I shouldn’t mention it because they’ll take it away from me. Anytime I give a tour of the TSN studios, or would take people up to see where Hockey Night in Canada was shot, the look on their face says it all.


I was also in an elevator during one of the network’s most high-profile events (called the Upfront – each network does it, to release the upcoming year’s schedule), and Don Cherry walked in. This wasn’t Hockey Night in Canada Don Cherry, this was “I’m tired and going home” Don Cherry (looking back, they’re pretty similar). He was in the elevator with just his publicist and me. He called Scott Moore in the elevator and was complaining that he saw no Rock’em Sock’em DVDs in the CBC Shop – he gave the impression he thought nobody cared enough to stock it, and wanted the Head of CBC Sports to do something about it. I could hear the phone call, because both are loud men, and Scott had told him it was because they were sold out – it was a good thing. Don wasn’t having it – he didn’t want people to be disappointed if they came in looking for it, and weren’t able to find it. His name was on it and he didn’t want to let anyone down. It was pretty cool. 

EJ: What advice do you have for current SPAD students looking for internships?

JS: Stop writing “Proficient in Microsoft Office” – for the love of God, if in 2017 you aren’t, you shouldn’t have a University degree. But as someone who went through the process, and who is now leading a team who also brings interns on (SPAD student Tanner Keelan is working on my team right now… I think I have terrified him), the biggest thing I can say is to find a way to stand apart. It’s so cliché, but it’s true – and that doesn’t mean add colour to your resume. It means understand your audience – your resume is the first step to get you in the door, but it’s not the only one. Pick up the phone, work some connections and don’t just apply for every job or posting because you need to find an internship. Passion comes through, and lack of it comes through thicker. One thing I’ve learned is that people on the other side of the table are much smarter than you, in that they’ve seen applications, resumes and interviewees from all over. Personally, I hate template resumes. I work in a creative-driven field and I still get the generic Google Search Result kind of resume / cover letter – make me laugh, make me think, make me realize you actually took time to apply to this, and that you care, and even more so, that you really want it, and you’re better than everyone else out there – and don’t just say it… show it. I don’t know how, and I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but you need to find a point of difference. Again… this is only my perspective. There are some places that will love the standard Times New Roman, Resume Objective-filled applications, and that’s fine, I just want no part of it.


Also (I tend to ramble), don’t be afraid. If you know nothing about an industry or a property, but you have a genuine interest, go for it, what’s the worst that could happen? At the end of the day, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a student and you’re up against other students. Nobody has 10 years marketing experience that will blow you out of the water. Transcripts aren’t shared with employers (thank the lord in my case) – you all have one first impression and there’s no reason yours shouldn’t be better than the next person’s. Skills can be taught, talent and attitude cannot be. Use it. 

EJ: For your SPAD Field Trip, you traveled to Dallas to work with the Mavericks. How did that experience help you in your career?

JS: It makes for a really cool story to tell people when you talk about where you went to school and the types of things you’ve done. It’s a real-world experience and your experience will really depend on the people you’re working with / for. For my project specifically, the team at the Mavericks in the room that we were presenting to, weren’t that engaged, if I’m being honest. They heard us out, but they didn’t really talk to us about what we were presenting (maybe they were being526733_100530250116342_1527613181_n polite). What I did take from the whole experience actually took place before the presentation. I can’t speak on behalf of my whole group, but I think we all took some learning from it. Throughout the entire process – months before we actually went to Dallas – the Mav’s were very slow to get back to us and to provide info and even a topic for us to work on. When we finally got it, we started working on it. When we got to Dallas we were told we were on the last day, so we had a few more days to perfect it. On Day 1 in Dallas, they called our prof at the time, the late Steve Harrington, and changed the topic – we were 3 days away. So we had to scrap everything, start over and really buckle down. Remember, we were in our early 20s with the ENTIRE class, on this massive field trip. Teams were coming back from their presentations with Torpedo kegs, unwinding and celebrating (deservedly so) their completion of the project. We had to lock ourselves in a boardroom and get it done. It was the most realistic part of the entire process (looking back). There’s a lot of “Life Comes At You Fast” memes out there – this was a real version of all of them combined. We finished, did our presentation, and then got wrecked like everyone else (we presented on St. Pattys Day… the Gods were looking down on us). It was, and still remains, one of the most unique, real, emotional, unfair, infuriating and intoxicating (on many levels) moments of my young career. It was awesome.

EJ: I’ve heard that at one-point Tie Domi almost killed you! I’d love to hear that story.

JS: I worked on a show called Battle of the Blades where former NHL players were paired with Figure Skaters in a reality / fan-vote kind of show – he was one of the contestants on the show. The show took place at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in that first season (it eventually moved). Part of my job was ensuring our sponsors were not only taken care of, but we had a VIP reception afterwards in the Hot Stove Lounge where our clients would mingle, drink and interact with the skaters. Before getting to the party, I had to personally give a behind-the-scenes tour of Maple Leaf Gardens (poor me…) from a production and historical perspective. One of the fun facts was that Tie Domi refused to park his Mercedes Benz in the VIP parking lot outside with everyone else, but instead requested (demanded) that he have a personal security guard for his car (this was the CBC… those budget asks were not getting approved) or he park it inside in the Zamboni bay. So, naturally, he parked in the building. One night after the show had finished, the party had wrapped up and everyone had left, I was walking back to our production office when I saw his car. He and his girlfriend were walking towards it, heading home for the night. They got in, fired it up and instead of peeling out, he threw it in reverse and floored it (likely doing one of those cool, reverse-and-peel-out kind of things) – the problem, was that I was behind the car and it came straight at me. It would have been a cool way to go – hit by Tie Domi in the bowels of Maple Leaf Gardens, but I managed to get out of the way, and lived to tell the story.

EJ: You started at TSN in 2010, how has your role changed since you started to now?logo-5127942d986fa88da595d549cb899f32

JS: How much time do you have? I started in the marketing department responsible for the promotion of our programming. It was a really cool entry-level job to get your feet wet at the broadcaster. You dealt with every single department and got to know all the show producers. At the time, “Social Media” was still a new shiny tool – nobody at TSN was really responsible for it, or was taking it on, so I just decided to do it. Some of our personalities were already on it (Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger), but that aside, it was kind of mediocre, as it was always someone’s other duties as assigned (i.e. not in their job description). Everyone just kind of let me do it, which was awesome – or so I thought. Since I was the guy who was the ‘voice’ of TSN, it also meant I had to always be on. I was tweeting from SportsCentre, pushing news out from one of the top sports news brands in Canada; I was sending out programming information if live events were going late; I had to deal with angry viewers complaining about us being the Toronto Sports Network – the day started at 6am and ended around 1am. Eventually, a new team was created called Integrated Solutions that took a few people from various departments (Digital, Sales, Production and Marketing – in my case) to form a sales-driven team that was focused on developing programs and projects that weren’t traditional sales ideas (contests, features made with client taglines, etc.) and we weren’t tied to a specific platform. We were charged with coming up with multi-platform solutions to client problems – by any means necessary. As our group grew, and we saw internal and external success (if you’re an avid SportsCentre viewer, we created the RAM 1V1 segment – which has been on-air, and sponsored, for 4 straight years – the only ever sponsored program that runs every single day, for the entire year), our team expanded and eventually took over the Brand Partnerships team. Today, as I mentioned at the start, my team is responsible for all programs and pitches that go to clients – either re actively or proactively – we also have an execution team, that brings our ideas to life once they sell, and we have our production team that produces commercials, content and more, depending what we develop. 

2017Nov 13

Step by Step, Brick by Brick

Step by Step, Brick by Brick

By Nick Porter

Sweat and tears combine with winning comes championships. All starts with hard work and ends in glory. Michael Jordan didn’t come from out of nowhere, he had a strong foundation from his parents, mentors and coaches just like a former SPAD grad, Jan Egert to succeed in their chosen profession. How can a young boy from Switzerland who only knew a handful of English words turn out to be an assistant GM of a well-known OHL team, the Ottawa 67’s? I will tell you.

I interviewed Jan and I will take you back through his journey from moving to Canada at the age of twelve, to finding out what the Sports Administration program at Laurentian was, to finally getting a call from the James Boyd to become an assistant GM of the Ottawa 67’s.

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For someone to move across town can be hard but imagine moving to a different country, not even knowing their language. That’s what this SPAD grad did. He came over from Switzerland at the age of 12 and lived in Ottawa. He loved the game of hockey and soccer. As he was in grade 12, not knowing what to do after high school something happened. A young lady came to visit his school. She came and “presented Laurentian University and the SPAD Program at my high school in Grade 12. She asked this situational question, where we had to raise our hand if it applied to us – my hand was in the air the entire time – until she turned to me and said you need to turn to page 25 and read the paragraph about Sports Administration”. Jan did and he knew right there that he was going to Laurentian University in the fall. During his time at Laurentian he helped out with the Switzerland junior team as they defeated Denmark in one of his favourite hockey memory, as seen above and below.

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With working with Switzerland, I asked how did you get into scouting in the first place. He said “Scott Campbell was the video coach of the Sudbury Wolves in our third SPAD year, and learning from him it intrigued me.” After those experiences he got a shot as a communications intern with the Ottawa Senators. “When he was there it really opened his eyes afterwards; as Jan got to look behind the scenes, and the late Bryan Murray shared some great advice.”

Upon Graduation in SPAD and getting his MBA at Laurentian as well, he became a scout for the Mississauga Steelheads for several years. This is where he met his biggest mentor, James Boyd, now the GM of the Ottawa 67’s. “James took a chance on a very green 22-year old MBA student; and was willing to instill his knowledge in me along the way. I now look at the business of hockey completely different now than I did back then, have grown and learned countless valuable lessons; and so much of that is because of the guidance and mentorship from James along the way.”

Several years learning from James, the winning started happening. He was won an OHL Eastern Conference Championship with the Mississauga Steelheads. He climb the so-called ladder and was named assistant GM of that team.

jan 3

Then it all came back to earth, he left the Mississauga Steelheads, this past summer. Had no idea what he wanted to do. He flew back home to meet up with some contacts and something unexpected happened. He got a call from his old mentor……..


James Boyd. James Boyd called me to go work for the 67’s. “I knew joining the Ottawa 67’s was the perfect fit for me. It kind of felt like coming full circle – my first ever Jr. Hockey Game that I watched was in Ottawa; so coming ‘home’ just felt right.”

Jan knew right there that every step that he took in his life and every brick that he laid, it was all worth it. The long nights, countless hours in a car to drive to a local community rink to watch the game of “HOCKEY”. All the hard work finally PAID OFF.

*Attached below is the full interview*

Questions with Jan Egert

Who is Jan Egert?

29 year old Switzerland native, former Laurentian Voyageur Men’s Soccer player; SPAD & MBA graduate; current Asst. GM of the Ottawa 67’s Hockey Club.

What values have you held true to yourself since day one?

Learn how to walk before you try to run; trust the process, and don’t cheat the game. Everyone wants to get to the top as quickly as possible, but to be successful – you need to appreciate each additional stone that you lay on your professional foundation every step of the way. Don’t try to cheat your way to the top, you’ll stumble and fall. I’ve never seen anyone successfully jump up a ladder – but I’m quite confident that you can climb to the top with a plan in place.

What made you pick Laurentian University and what was your favourite memory of SPAD?

Funny enough, a young lady that presented Laurentian University and the SPAD Program at my high school in Grade 12. She asked this situational question, where we had to raise our hand if it applied to us – my hand was in the air the entire time – until she turned to me and said “you need to turn to page 25 and read the paragraph about Sports Administration”. I had no clue where Laurentian was, or what the SPAD program was until that day; and later that night – I explained to my parents that going to Sudbury was best for me.

What made you want to become a scout/GM?

I was always a hockey fan, but I had no idea where I’d even have gotten started as a scout, or within hockey operations. Scott Campbell was the video coach of the Sudbury Wolves in our third SPAD year, and it intrigued me; maybe that’s what started it. My communications internship with the Ottawa Senators really opened my eyes afterwards; as I got to look behind the scenes, and the late Bryan Murray had some great advice – which kind of triggered the passion and showed me the path of where to start. After that, it’s all hard work.

What is the hardest part about your job?

I thought the player acquisition part of the job would be easy; but it is tough. There are few things more difficult than the phone call to a player to advise him that he is no longer part of your team.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Winning. The emotion that comes with winning – be it at the World Jr. Tournament in Montreal when we defeated Denmark in a must-win game after trailing 3:0 early; or winning the OHL’s Eastern Conference Championship with the Mississauga Steelheads. There are countless hours and resources invested from players, staff, management and coaches that goes into something like that – so to see everyone get rewarded for their efforts is worth every ounce of sweat.

Tell me about your journey to becoming the assistant GM of the Ottawa 67’s

It all moved pretty quick this summer after my departure from the Mississauga Steelheads. I was in Europe to meet with a few contacts about opportunities overseas; but once my phone rang with James Boyd on the other end – I knew joining the Ottawa 67’s was the perfect fit for me. It kind of felt like coming full circle – my first ever Jr. Hockey Game that I watched was in Ottawa at the then-Civic Centre; so coming ‘home’ just felt right.

What is your greatest accomplishment in work and in life?

I’m not sure – I don’t like to talk about my own accomplishments. Hockey is a team sport; and the business of hockey is a team sport. I’ll likely revert to moving to Canada as a 12-yr old boy; and speaking about 10 words of English at that time. To be able to grow, and move to a different part of the world, and adjust to be successful – that’s likely my biggest accomplishment so far in life.

Who is your mentor/role model and what lessons did you learn from him?

There are a number of role models that have greatly impacted my life and my professional journey – but I would be hard-pressed to go beyond James Boyd, now the GM of the Ottawa 67’s. James took a chance on a very green 22-year old MBA student; and was willing to instill his knowledge in me along the way. I look at the business of hockey completely different now than I did back then, have grown and learned countless valuable lessons; and so much of that is because of the guidance and mentorship from James along the way.

Have you had any failures in life and if so, how did you overcome it?

Everyone has had failures; some small and some much tougher to swallow.
In the end, you have to believe in the process; you have to believe in yourself, your abilities and that you are in fact doing things the right way.
If you can do that – then things will work out in the long-run; facing adversity along the way will actually benefit you once you do reach your full potential.

Thank you for taking your time to let me interview you today, it’s much appreciated.

Thank you.                                                 

2017Nov 9

Former SPAD Grad Interview with Bradley Smith

Bradley Smith
By: Tyler Rivest

During his time at Laurentian from 1998-2002, Bradley played on the Laurentian Voyageurs Mens Soccer Team. Bradley states, “It was probably the best time of my life, I made lots of friends and so many great connections.” Bradley then graduated from Laurentian with a SPAD degree in 2002. Bradley says, “one of the things I liked most about SPAD was the small group of students that I had with me in SPAD and how we were all so like minded.” If Bradley could give any improvements for the SPAD program, he would like to see more then one coop/internship Confed-1opportunity. He also liked that he was able to stay at home and save some money.

As stated earlier, Bradley is now a teacher for a high school in his hometown. However, before he made the switch to go to teachers college, Bradley found himself in the Sport Industry. Just after graduating, he landed a job as a sport organizer with Soccer Canada. This job allowed him to use all his skills that he learned during his time in SPAD. While working at this job, he did marketing, scheduling, event coordinating, etc. He worked this job for about three years and decided that it wasn’t for him. So, he packed his bags and moved back to his hometown and began his life as a teacher. Something that Bradley credits SPAD for is his presentation skills. He states, “while your in SPAD, you are always presenting. Where as other programs they hardly present at all. And that’s why I think SPAD students haConfed-2ve a big advantage coming out of school.”

Bradley also offered some advice for students that are currently in SPAD or looking to take SPAD in the future. He says, “In SPAD, you have to find that balance of working hard and getting all your work done and having a good time, meeting new people and developing your network.” Bradley believes that SPAD is one of the best programs Laurentian has to offer and is very well known in the industry. Bradley went on to say, “I wish I could still be there, playing soccer, hanging out with the guys. But at the same time, I’m happy with where I am and I have SPAD to thank for that.”

2017Oct 31

The Beginning

Eric Wass

Assistant Coach/Laurentian Voyageurs Men’s Soccer


“You’ll never play the game of soccer again,” the doctor said as he looked at my knee, I thought it was over, but it was just the beginning…


This was a phrase that Eric Wass never wanted to hear.


However, this being a large reason as to why I traveled halfway around the world from Helsingborg, Sweden to Sudbury. A unique opportunity in the classroom and with the Laurentian Men’s Soccer team was something I wasn’t going to pass up.


At just 3 years old, my father introduced me to the sport and ever since I have remained involved. Playing for 17 years, I have plenty of experience and games under my belt. So much so, that I have been coaching for the last 4 years and counting.


A few years ago, an off-field knee injury put me on the sideline temporarily. Shortly after returning to the game, a few re-injury setbacks and irreversible knee damage ultimately led to my soccer (playing) retirement.


Giving up something that you love, are passionate about, and is a vital part of your life can be detrimental, heartbreaking, and difficult to accept. Initially, it was extremely challenging and difficult to give up something that has been a part of my entire life. But, soon realized that I could still play a crucial part within the gam22883158_2120043781354931_309238873_ne of soccer.


I quickly transitioned into my next role within the world of soccer and joined the coaching staff of my former club team. To this day, I haven’t looked back.



Despite not being able to play the game, the ability to coach is a huge advantage to bettering my future career. With a dream of being a professional coach in the English Premier League, I need to be experienced. Thus, starting to coach at such a young age will give me at least 15 years of experience others applicants likely won’t have. Additionally, obtaining the required licenses needed to coach at different levels now will also give me an edge up on other coaches. As well as provide me with a greater understanding of rules and techniques for coaching.


Johan Carlsson, my former coach, told me, “you are better in the head than the feet.” Implying that I have a greater knowledge of the sport itself than my ability to play the game. Many would take this an insult, but I took it as a compliment, knowing that I have the skill set and ability to succeed at the coaching level. This could be contributed to the countless hours I spend reviewing tactics and strategies along with spending a lifetime around the sport.


A successful, four-year coaching career with the Kullavagen BK, an under 21 club in Sweden, and I was interested in taking the next step.


But the real question: Why Laurentian?


The cliche “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” proved beneficial for me and landing at Laurentian. My father, a professional women’s soccer coach in Sweden, was able to draft the daughter of LU’s Athletic Director. In turn, putting me in touch with the “right person” to advance my coaching career at the university level. Needless to say, this was something I was not expecting.


After learning more about the university itself, the soccer team, and finding a desired program of study (sports psychology), I choose to attend Laurentian University. Before long, I was packing my bags and heading to Canada for a new adventure.


13432222_1342227075792511_2780642078468735267_nThe opportunity to help coach at the collegiate level is a step up from my previous coaching position in Sweden. But, also brings along a new perspective and interaction with the athletes.

Playing the role of both student and coach brings a unique set of interaction with athletes such as coaching friends and classmates. When in a coaching role, this is not an optimal situation as you are looking to establish yourself with authority and on a hierarchy level. Which, can be difficult to develop and take time but I have slowly been adapting to this. Throughout the duration of the season thus far, I have had to prove myself to the athletes with my knowledge of the game to gain the desired respect, authority, and position that I deserve as a coach. I have found that the Canadians are more respectful to their coaches than compared to Sweden.

Regardless of the country I coach in, the message I present to my athletes on game day remains the same. “Han du kommer möta där ute vill vara bättre än dig. Han kommer kämpa röven av sig för att vara just det. Min fråga är: kommer du låta den jävlen vara bättre än dig? Vad fan kom du hit för då?” Or as we can better understand it, “The guy you will be against out there today wants to be better than you. He will fight his ass off to be just that. My question is: will you let that sucker be better than you? What the hell did you come here for then?”


Eric Wass / Contributor



2017Oct 31

Starting From Scratch

By Jason Rankin


Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 4.26.36 PMJust fourteen months ago, in September of 2016 I was approached by professor, Dr. Amanda Schweinbenz. She asked me to try out for the Laurentian rowing team. Twice I declined to join the team due to having my mind set on school and making new friends, although on the third try I was given a piece of paper with the Olympic qualifying times displayed on it. I was told if I could achieve those times, I could start training for the Olympics and with that my decision was made, and shortly after was in a boat.

My name is Charlie Alexander, and I am from southern Ontario, and live in a small town called Fergus. Growing up in Fergus was great, I would spend most of my free time at the mechanic shop down the street, working on my Jeep, or learning from my father and friends who also worked there. Never would I have pictured myself rowing competitively in those days. Becoming a police officer or joining the RCMP was my dream as a child, however my love for the outdoors drove me to chose a different path. Currently I am taking the Outdoor Adventure Leadership program at Laurentian.

It was in my first few weeks in the program when I met Amanda Schweinbenz, who has been the rowing coach here for about 9 years and has helped produce many successful rowers such as, Curtis Halladay and Carling Zeeman. With no rowing experience at all, I accepted her offer to join the team. Even though it seemed like a remote possibility, I decided to go for it, and committed with everything I had, even though I knew nothing. Amanda helped me through everything, and taught me from scratch all there is to know about rowing. She quickly became my trusted coach and mentor in the sport.Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 4.36.07 PM

Balancing school and my busy training schedule isn’t easy. I sacrifice some much needed sleep, for our 5:30AM starts only then to come home to make breakfast, then once more head back for another row at 11AM and then once more around 4PM. All of this is completed while getting to class and finishing all of my homework and it is all worth it in my mind. The feeling I get when pushing through a long hard workout on a cold morning is something I’ve never felt before, and only something that I can describe to you as a “rowers high”. The sound of the water splashing at the back of the boat as it slightly lifts off the water with every stroke, and hearing the slight hum of the hollow bodied hull, when everything is just perfect, is somewhat blissful.

My main goal is to reach the Olympics, specifically I am striving towards the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo, but a more realistic goal is the following Summer Olympics is 2024 in Paris. In just my first year of eligibility for rowing I have competed in 5 events, most notably the Head of the Trent or HOTT, and the OUA finals. At the HOTT race, I placed 4th and at OUA’s I won the bronze medal. In October, I was named Ontario’s Strongest Male Athlete of 2017 presented by RBC, which is the most important achievement of my career so far. Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 4.32.42 PM

Never would I have thought I would be rowing for a chance to compete for my country, but with just a year under my belt in the sport, I am pushing my limits and looking to join the Canadian National Rowing Team, as soon as I can. It’s only a matter of time and experience until I will be seasoned enough to join and contribute to our national team.

2017Oct 31



Playing junior hockey is not the most normal way to grow up. I was only sixteen when I was drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs, but when Doug Gilmour (the general manager of the Frontenacs) wants to sign you, it is hard to say no. The resulting roller coaster ride was both exhilarating and crazy. It might not have been the most normal way to go through my late teens, but I would not trade those experiences for anything.

Before being drafted by the Frontenacs I played AAA hockey here in Sudbury where I grew up. I was joking around with my buddies recently, and I said I went to six different high schools and they were shocked. That is normal for a junior hockey player, all that traveling and being traded required me to change schools frequently.  I had never thought of it as a thing that I had to overcome. I always loved the traveling going around to all those different places, and it really gave me the life experience that I am lucky enough to have.

After playing for a couple of seasons in the OHL I joined the Truro Bearcats organization of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. One of the highlights of my career happened while I was with the Bearcats organization, which was winning the league championship (Kent cup) in 2014. There’s just something about it that you can’t replace, after the season’s done, after the playoffs are done, being able to turn to the guy beside you and say that you’re the champions.

After my last year with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL, I gave Darryl Moxam a call. I asked him, I think I’m just about done my junior career and I’m looking for a place to go, a place to continue playing hockey and getting into a place that’s fitting for my future. He said well what do you want to get into, and i said well something sport related, something business related. He said it’s funny you should say that, because we have a sports business program here at Laurentian. He was the coach of the men’s hockey team at Laurentian at the time so he enticed me to come play hockey here, as well as to join the sports administration program.

That’s the story of my junior career, and my homecoming to Sudbury as a member of the Laurentian Voyageurs men’s hockey team. Being back has been really great, I get to reconnect with friends and family. When playing junior during the summer I would be home in Kingston with my parents, and in the winter I’d be off playing hockey. It has been really nice to reconnect with all those I haven’t seen in a number of years. Whatever lies in my future I will always be grateful of this period that I got to spend in Sudbury with friends and family.



Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 2.53.54 PM

2017Oct 31

Another Day’s Work

rowingMy name is Matt Day, I’m a second year student athlete at Laurentian University.  I’ve been playing a support/training role on the school’s rowing team for a year and a half now.  I was recruited in my first year through the school’s novice program where I was selected by Coach Gergely.  Before joining Laurentian’s team, I had no past experience with rowing as a competitive organized sport.  From what I’ve seen, this program has been an amazing learning experience for me.

If I was asked to give an explanation of what rowing is, I would have to describe it by saying, it’s a group of crazy people, sitting in boats, enduring pain, and going fast.  Rowing is a highly competitive endurance sport where athletes compete in 2km distance races.   In order to prepare for these races, myself along with the other members of the team have to train non-stop, starting practices at 5:30 in the mornings every day.  There is nothing quite like seeing the still lake on these calm mornings as the sun rises.   Weights training is done a few days a week.  We also prepare with race planning, and goal setting.  Some of my personal recorded rowing statistics include my time per 500m, which averages to around 1:50min, and my power output which averages to around 800watts.

Although I am an athlete at Laurentian, my main focus is my studies.  I know that I can’t sacrifice school for sports.  I’m glad I gave rowing a shot as it has changed my life as a student at Laurentian, as it has made me rethink how to prioritize schoolwork and balance my workload.  I’m currently enrolled in the outdoor adventure/leadership.  Balancing schoolwork and training has been hard but I’m learning how to manage and prioritize my time well enough, while still leaving time for myself.  I always pick school before the team, whether that means missing a practice to finish an assignment, or going to bed early so I can be well rested for the next day after morning practice.  With the recent strike, I found myself slipping into a bit of a lazier routine.  I started falling behind on schoolwork for a bit, and was getting into the habit of sleeping in, but I was able to quickly get back on track.  I do leave a little time when I’m not rowing or doing schoolwork to myself.  In my free time I’m either playing video games, playing a bit of guitar or trying to make it to the gym.  I also really enjoy eating, I do eat a lot.  

rainbow rowing

Overall, I’m just an average student athlete, that’s getting by as a student and as an athlete.  Being on the rowing team hasn’t made me any less of a student and being a student hasn’t made me any less of an athlete.  I’ve grown a lot in the almost two years I’ve been on this team and I’m honoured to be a member of the Laurentian rowing team and the Laurentian outdoor adventure/leadership program.