2018Feb 6

The Comeback

Matt Fiorini – #32

University of St. Francis – Fort Wayne / Pitcher


The Comeback

By: Domenic Fiorini


“Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there”

– Bo Jackson

After the eighth grade, I realized that baseball was my sport, and I wanted to take things more seriously. I thought about working out more and kicking practices up a notch; other than that, I really didn’t know what to do, but I knew wanted to get better.

Coming into St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS in 2011, I couldn’t throw hard, I wasn’t very big and in the tenth grade my coach said, “You’ll be swinging your way into a pitcher in no time”.

As you could probably guess, this is when I realized that I should just stick to pitching.

However, by this time I was roughly 140lbs, throwing about 65mph and still figuring out my body and my delivery.

It was time to kick things up a notch.

By the twelfth grade I had hit my growth spurt and was standing at 6’1”, weighed about 180lbs and was throwing roughly 85mph. Things were finally coming together for me. I was confident, I was locating my pitches and I was throwing the ball hard and like never before.

In the fall of 2015, I joined Lake Erie Storm playing division two baseball in Painesville, Ohio.


However, while I was there, things weren’t always sunshine and rainbows.

Growing up I had always been a starting pitcher. That was my thing; to give my team a chance to win.

During this time however, I had been moved to the bullpen. This was a difficult adjustment for me. Instead of trying to give my team a chance to win, I’m trying to lead them to victory and as a freshman, let’s just say the nerves were high.

Also while attending Lake Erie, I had never had the opportunity to use a radar gun to see how fast I had been throwing.

By the end of the season, I realized that playing in Lake Erie wasn’t for me. Although I made the second most appearances on the mound for my team in my first year, really ramped up my intensity in games and built some strong relationships with my teammates, I felt that it was time to move on.

After playing my last game with Lake Erie, tensions were high, emotions got the best of me and I threw one of the worst games of the season, I just couldn’t wait to go home.

When I came home, I thought to myself that I was done playing high level baseball. My plan was to attend Laurier University, get an education and pitch, but after that, I was done.

That summer, I got in contact with one of my former coaches and I told him my intentions with baseball. Before doing anything rash, he told me to come by the facility and jump on the radar gun, something I hadn’t done in about a year.

I hit 90mph for the first time…Boom.

That same summer I played for a local baseball team called the Toronto Maple Leafs where I struck out a bunch of batters and threw minimal walks.

I was at the top of my game and was recruited to pitch at the NAIA level in Fort Wayne, Indiana by the University of St. Francis.

Needless to say, I wasn’t attending Laurier the next school year.


As the school year approached and my summer with the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team was coming to an end, there were only a few games left in the season. Warming up one game, I felt a little tweak in my shoulder, I didn’t think anything of it and thought that it would just go away.

After popping a few ibuprofens into my system, I thought I was back to my old self.

Well, I was wrong.

That night I felt unbearable pain in my shoulder. Shortly after, on January 11th, 2017, I saw a doctor and was told that I needed a posterior capsule release in my left shoulder and that the recovery would take about a year.


Great, just what I needed to tell my coaches at St. Francis. Luckily for me, they were understanding of the situation.

In that moment, after the surgery I thought to myself, now what?

I love baseball and after a summer of pitching so well, I knew I had the potential to be great.

So I sat back and realized that I should document this thing; my “comeback” story. I wanted to show that baseball players who suffer injuries similar to mine should not let it set them back from their goals at becoming great at the game and doing what they love.

Fast forward to July 2017, I got the go ahead from the doctors to pitch again.

I was filled with excitement, happiness and relief. The fact that I was able to throw the ball again so quickly from the time of the surgery meant the world to me.

I was back to throwing 100% shortly after the doctor’s okay. Although the pain still lingered every once in a while, this was normal and not overworking myself was the key to coming back.

Now I monitor myself a lot more with respect to how I’m feeling, what I am eating, my sleep schedule and I am working out constantly, but cautiously. If I stick to my routine and not overwork myself, I know that I am destined for great things.

My goals for the upcoming season are to be the best pitcher in the conference and to beat St. Franics’ current record of 9 wins in 12 appearances during the 45 game season.

Follow @fiorinipitching to join me through my journey to the “Comeback”

Season starts February 10th.


“Watch me come back from this, or don’t.”

– Matt Fiorini


Contributor / Matt Fiorini

2018Feb 6

Stay The Course

Ever since I can remember, hockey has been in my life, whether that be playing competitively through minor hockey, on TV on Saturday nights watching DScreen Shot 2018-02-06 at 6.04.24 PMon Cherry, or the cold nights playing shinny on the outdoor rink with friends back in my hometown, North Bay, Ontario. I first laced up when I was three years old, as a forward that is and played that role up until I was eleven. I did not have very much confidence in my goalies so I ended up rushing back and standing in front of the net blocking any shot that came at us. It was at that time my dad recommended I might as well put on the pads and I haven’t looked back since. From then on I was between the posts but since I found my role eight years into my career, I had some catching up to do. I had never worked with a goalie coach or went to a goalie school until I was fifteen. When I had the opportunity to go to goalie school, I quickly realized my style had not been taken on by many. My goalie coach recognized this and completely changed my style making many adjustments, which took me a year or two to get completely comfortable with. Since being such a late bloomer I was inexperienced and ended up having to go through many heartbreaks, getting cut from AAA teams up until Midget. Some may think of Appleby (right) at local rink for free skate with childhood friendit as a loss, even myself at that time, but when I look back on it now I think of waking up at 6 a.m. for practice, enduring a forty-minute drive to a small town which is home to the coldest arena I have ever played on to this day, Trout Creek, Ontario. I also think of playing on my high school hockey team, Chippewa Raiders’ first year back into the local high school league, winning only three games throughout the entire season but creating some great memories throughout all the losses. Some people might have described those as setbacks, but those setbacks played a big role in developing me into the goalie and person I am today.




North Bay Trappers Midget AAA take on the elements for a fun practice on an outdoor rink Appleby (second from the right) tries to bring out his skills as a player

North Bay Trappers Midget AAA take on the elements for a fun practice on an outdoor rink. Appleby (second from the right) tries to    bring out his skills as a player

After a hard work of summer camp and tryouts, I made my first AAA team in Major Midget AAA for the North Bay Trappers. From there I was able to work my way through the year, and the hard work paid off as I ended up getting drafted to the Oshawa Generals, in the Ontario Hockey League, in the second round, thirty-fifth overall. Following my draft year, I played a year in Kirkland Lake with the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils. I played that year with the Blue Devils and ended up getting the call for the Generals the following year. I was leaving my family, friends, and my hometown, entering a whole new world I was unfamiliar with. Luckily I was not alone as I had my teammates and my billet family. They treated me as one of their own making me homemade meals and helping me get to the rink. I played there for two years and started to think about what will come after my years in the OHL. I was undrafted but still had one more year along with my overage year ahead of me; I decided then to start takingScreen Shot 2018-02-06 at 12.38.11 AM some courses at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. I was interested in business so decided to take their commerce program focusing in microeconomics and business math. While dealing with classes, we ended up having a very successful year on the ice. We made our way to the OHL Conference Finals where we met up with my hometown’s team, North Bay Battalion. After winning that series we began to prepare for the next challenge against Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters. We fought through another huge series winning ourselves the OHL Championship and were on our way to the Memorial Cup. After battling our way to victory winning 2-1 against the Kelowna Rockets, I held the Memorial Cup Trophy in my hands and couldn’t be happier to be in the position I was. After my performances from that season, some NHL clubs began contacting me sending invitations to camps. This was the first time I had ever seriously thought about being able to compete on the professional level. I went to a few different teams’ camps and ended up signing with the New Jersey Devils, playing with their affiliate team, the Binghamton Devils.


Now I was in a somewhat familiar position. Entering a new city, playing for a different team, in a stronger league. I was in my first stage of my professional career. Since I was in the pros now, I had to take all the lessons I’ve learned from my parents and billets and live on my own. This meant finding an apartment, roommates, and figuring out on how to cook for myself. It wasn’t too easy but I managed to figure it out, now living in an apartment in Binghamton with two teammates, we all pitch in together. Now my days typically start up at seven and get to the rink around eight. We stick to the plan for the day whether that is having team meetings or workouts, and then around ten we go for practice. After practice is done, a group of us get together and figure out where the post-practice meal will be. After lunch I head back home and do some meal prep, take a nap, or play some Xbox with my roommates. It’s not your typical job, so I tend to find myself searching for ways to keep busy quite often. In the off-season I surround myself at home with family and friends, I like to spend my summer days at the golf course or on the lake. Game days are fairly similar to regular praAppleby in first NHL appearance against the Colorado Avalanchectice days but just add in the game later that night. I played the majority of my first year of professional hockey with the Adirondack Thunder in the East Coast Hockey League, occasionally getting a chance to play with the AHL team, which was the Albany Devils at the time. The following year I had a larger role with Albany and ended up getting the chance to have my first NHL appearance with the New Jersey Devils playing against the Colorado Avalanche, backing up goaltender Cory Schneider. I couldn’t believe I was in the position I was, and the camera sure caught that. I was joking around with my trainer and the next thing I see is my face smiling ear to ear on the big screen. I’ve always learned to enjoy the ride and that was exactly what I was doing.


I am now entering my third year of professional hockey; I am sharing the starting role for the now Binghamton Devils and continue to work as hard as I can to better myself. My expectations for this season were that Binghamton was my home for the year. I was looking to play lots and focus on developing my game. I didn’t have too high of expectations, I just wanted to come in and have solid year. Halfway through this season I got my second call up to the top level. We were playing against theAppleby NHL Debut Philadelphia Flyers. Again I sat on the bench, ecstatic that I was where I was, and then halfway into the first period I saw Kinkaid go down. I could tell right away that it did not look good for fellow goaltender and that I would most likely be going in. As I looked down the bench I got the nod, my heart started racing as I started to get my mask and gloves together, I kept thinking to myself is this really happening? Before I knew it I had to react to Wayne Simmonds flying down the wing coming directly at me. We ended up losing the game 3-1 however I took it as a very positive experience and a day that I will never forget. A few days later I got told I was getting my first career start against Nashville Predators.

Appleby walking through the tunnel entering his first NHL start

Appleby walking through the tunnel entering his first NHL start

gifAgain, my mind was racing, I had to calm down and try and focus on what I had to do, which is have a good game. My mindset for the game was to focus on making the first save, and move onto the next, keeping my game simple and hopefully do enough to give the team a chance to win. Throughout my whole career I’ve learnt not to take anything for granted, whether that be getting called up, making a team, or being named a starter. I try to take full advantage of those opportunities because they don’t come around too often. It was all very nerve racking but I took advantage of the situation. Once the game got going and I made the first save, I realized it was just another hockey game and I am looking forward to the next.


Written By: Kyle Wilkinson

Contributor: Ken Appleby, New Jersey Devils/Binghamton Devils

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2018Feb 6

Jordan Spadafore – A Tale of Life in Hockey




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By now everyone has seen the scouting report; Tall defensemen with great reach, physical game style, great ability to move the play down the ice, solid hockey vision and a knack for finding his open teammates with the puck. But before leading the Rayside-Balfour Canadians in penalty minutes and assist there was a lot of hard work, support from my love ones and anxious moments along the way. From what came to be know as the story of a good northern boy growing up through the proving grounds that is  hockey.


With Dad







Having separated parents from a young age was difficult, but it added fuel to my fire and helped my compete level. Ever since I can remember my Dad has been my number one fan. He made a point to be at every practice, try-out, training camp, game and tournament he could. Being the only son and having four sisters really helped my old man and I bond. Whether it was fishing, hockey, or even just spending the afternoon together, I knew then like I know now. He has my back.  My first hockey memory was having my dad teach me how to skate on the O.D.R. in Whitefish, I couldn’t have been more than 3 years old. But that’s a memory I’ll hold dear to me for a long time.Jordan little

The Spadafore men have lots of things in common, but over and above all. We love to play a physical brand of hockey. It must run in my genes; my grandpa was a farmer and the toughest guy I know. My dad would tell me about his upbringing and how it shaped his game play; so, I tried to model my game after that and I got quite the reputation in AAA. It’s something else when you go to training camps in Southern Ontario and other guys recognise you. “Hey there’s that tough kid from Sudbury” they would mumble to each other.


My career really took flight when I transition to playing defence in Pee Wee. That’s when my agent Adrian Gedye picked me up. I remember from the first time I met him, that I trusted him to help me on my way. I was getting interest from other agencies out of Toronto and other metropolitan areas, but it felt right to side with someone who was going to be in the North and whom and I had developed a relationship with.

Then, in early April 2016 came on the most exciting days of my hockey career so far, OHL draft day.  Adrian had had lots of conversations with G. M’s and scouts across the league, and I had gotten lots of interest going into tJordan fighthe draft. Emails, phone calls, a hand-full of old school letters. It was a great feeling that everything I worked for was coming to light and I felt recognized. I was projected to go in the 4th or 5th round, the 5th round passed I was a little nervous; then the 6th, 7th and 8th round past. I started sweating, I could feel my dream slipping out of my now clammy hands. So, I did what I felt, I had to do. Got my shorts, shoes and tee on slipped my mp3 in my pocket and just I was about to leave I checked the screen one last time and there is was.” 9th Round pick of the North Bay Battalion, #174 overall Jordan Spadafore” I could not have been more excited. That was the best feeling in the world.  Promptly after the draft the General Manager from North bay gave me a call to congratulate me and invite me to rookie camp. I had a great reception in North bay with promotional events and engagement with fans, signing autographs for kids. I remembered being in their shoes and having the wolves sign my mini-stick and give me a fist bump. It was nice to make their day as Wolves from the past had done for me.

This hockey story has definitely not seen it’s final chapter yet, I’m looking forward to this year’s long playoff run with my NOJHL team. Building off of my performance at last year’s camp for the Battalion and hopefully cracking their opening day roster. Moving forward I’m going to keep working hard and playing my game to try to be drafted into the NHL, with hopes of ultimately making it to the show one day and if not, I’d love to play in Europe or in the ECHL. When asked about pursuing a full-time career in hockey Jordan had this response: “Quite simply Logan, I’m doing something everyday to accomplish my goal” said with his signature smirk

2018Feb 6

Staring Down the Face of Adversity – Ellery Veerman

Veer 7    Ellery Veerman / Center / Laurentian Voyageurs


From a young age, hockey has always been a passion for me and I have done whatever it takes to be able to play the game.

Growing up in the small Northern Ontario town of Englehart I played minor hockey on a boys team every year. The closest girls team was 40 minutes away and having three older siblings who were also playing hockey made this commute nearly impossible.


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When the time came to think about my future and apply to post secondary, I had not been in contact with any schools regarding competitive hockey and to be honest, I didn’t know much about the university sports scene. In pursuit of my undergrad I decided to attend McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Once I got there, I continued playing the game I loved on the universities club team. Playing on an essentially self-sufficient team without funding from the university was a new experience for me and was adversity in itself. We competed in a Senior A/AA league and the commitment level was very different from that of a university team.

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While the four years I spent going to school and playing hockey at Mac was a great experience, I wanted to continue my education somewhere closer to home. Due to the limited schooling options up north, Laurentian was one of the few choices I had and lucky for me, Laurentian had just started their women’s varsity hockey program while I was in my last year at Mac. Despite knowing that players were sometimes recruited years before coming to school, I decided to go to tryouts and face even more adversity because I am willing to do anything to play the game I love.

After battling and competing through the highs and lows of training camp and pre season I was finally told the good news; I had made the team and I could not have been happier. “I will never forget the day the coaches pulled me aside and told me they wanted me to stick around”.




After two successful seasons in the blue and gold I was excited to get my third season underway. However, early in the season I suffered an injury – my ACL was completely torn and I was shocked. Not willing to stay away from the ice I did what I have been doing my whole life to play the game I loved – I stared down the face of adversity and battled through the pain of such a serious injury. Knowing there would be an extensive recovery time if I decided to have surgery I made the choice to continue playing the rest of the season.

Upon the completion of the season I opted to have surgery to repair my ACL. Knowing I would be facing adversity once again, I did whatever it took to get back on the ice as quickly as possible. “Even though there were numerous challenges early in my recovery – even some that continue now – I was back on the ice in October thanks to the endless support of family, friends, teammates and coaches.”




After countless hours of rehab and working to get back to game shape, I was finally able to get back into the lineup for our last weekend of games before the exam break in December. Stepping back on the ice to play the game I have loved since I was little, especially after such a hard road to recovery, was a feeling like no other. Each and every day, I continue to play my heart out knowing that you cannot take any practice or game for granted.

Knowing how tough of a league the OUA is, there is a little more adversity I must face to finish off my varsity career. However, knowing adversity has never stopped me before, I am poised to continue to lead my team in the push to make the playoffs and take us as deep as possible into the post season.

See you on the ice, adversity.

2018Feb 5

Lady V’s Bring a New Goalie to The Team

Introducing Kailen Jeffries who has newly joined the Laurentian Women’s Varsity hockey team. Kailen recently joined the Lady V’s after the third goalie had stopped being a part of the team. Kailen is 20 years old from a small town called Innisfil, ON. She is in her first year at Laurentian in the Sports Administration program. Before coming to the University she played for the Ottawa Lady Senators in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). Joining a team mid-way through their season can be stressful when everyone on the team already knows each other. Kailen explains her journey with a question and answer process, explaining how her hockey career started with the Laurentian Voyageurs.

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MW: Why did you choose Laurentian University?

KJ: I chose Laurentian because it’s a smaller school, it’s not in a huge city, it’s pretty close to home and the travel from my house is very easy. I also chose Laurentian because of the Sports Administration course as well as the kinesiology courses that they offer. They were the top two choices of programs for me so it would be easily transferrable if I wanted to switch courses at any time.


“when an opportunity came up I had to take it because I knew

that it would probably be my last chance to play university hockey” -KJ

MW: Why did you choose to start practising with the team?

KJ: I chose to start practising with the team because it was always a goal of mine to play on a university hockey team. Growing up I knew there weren’t many options for continuing my hockey career beyond high school. You are given the option to continue to play in university, or if you’re really good, then possibly playing for the National Women’s team or maybe the CWHL/NWHL after finishing university. For me though the only option was to play university hockey. So, in Bantam I began to think seriously about my post-secondary hockey. When it came time to start actually making some decisions about university hockey, I decided that I wanted to take a year off of school and just play hockey and work. One year then turned into two years off and by the end of the two years, and some-what not so good hockey seasons, I ended up not being recruited by any schools and chose university and program over playing hockey. Coming into Laurentian I knew my possibilities of making the team were few to none because I had spoken with the coach and she had told me their goalie situation going into my first year. However, when an opportunity came up I had to take it because I knew that it would probably be my last chance to play university hockey. So, that is why I decided to be the third goalie for the women’s hockey team.

MW: Has being able to play competitive hockey isolated you from being from a small town?

KJ: Yes, I believe it has. I don’t know if I’m a unique situation or not but growing up in Innisfil there were about 5 girls who played hockey at my 2,000-population high school. Due to there not being enough girls for a girl’s hockey team at high school I had the opportunity to play with the boys’ team. So, for grade 11 I played on the boys’ team which I believe isolated me because I don’t think I played against any girls on other boy’s high school hockey teams.

MW: Has joining the Lady V’s mid-way through their season affected you in any way?

KJ: Joining the Lady V’s midway through their season has affected me as joining any well-established team half way into their season would. Trying to learn all the rules and tendencies of the team is hard because everyone assumes you know them already and they may forget that I haven’t been around to learn them. I find myself asking a lot of questions. It also has affected me mentally and physically. Coming off of 4 months of not training or being on the ice regularly and then having to be on the ice 3-4 times a week as well as 2-3 workouts a week has been an adjustment.

MW: Do you find it hard keeping up with you studies and being a part of a varsity team?

KJ: I have found it to be slightly harder to keep up with my studies but not too much of a difference. I am learning to make use of my free time better. I’m not able to pull all-nighters or stay up until 2am to finish projects when I have practice at 7am the next day. I don’t think my studies will be largely affected in the long run.

MW: What were your goals before you started University? What are your goals now being apart of the team?

KJ: My goals before I started University was to attend university and play on their women’s varsity hockey team. That was a goal of mine since I played Bantam hockey. Since being a part of the team my goals have been to show that I am good enough to stay on the team and that I am good enough to compete at this level in hockey games. I look to be on the team next year and hope that through hard work I will be able to make that possible.

Thanks to Kailen for taking the time to talk about her student athlete lifestyle on the Laurentian Women’s hockey team.

3d4882b3ce3d8b28888d13857f5d47c8_400x400           k2

2017Nov 15

A Creative Eye


Steve Lange, originally from Brighton, Ontario is a 1994 Sports Administration graduate who currently works at BaAM productions in Toronto. Steve has an impressive resume of brand, event and project management experience in the sport event industry. With this he has developed and delivered innovative world-class events and brand experiences which include multiple Olympic and Paralympic Games. Through his busy schedule he was able to give some insight into these various roles and experiences. He also took the time to offer some advice to future and current SPAD students.



KC: What is your current Career?

SL: As Vice President, Brand Experience at BaAM Productions in Toronto, I lead branding projects in the Sports and Entertainment field. From creative strategy to delivery operations, 1200px-PyeongChang_2018_Winter_Olympics.svgI help clients bring their brands to life in an event environment.Creating a powerful visual backdrop at an event delivers a unique and memorable brand experience for athletes, spectators and the broadcast audience.Most recently I oversaw the Games time branding for the 2017 Invictus Games held in Toronto and m currently working with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics in South Korea.

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KC: What past experiences have led you to this?

SL: olympicsAt the 1996 Atlanta Olympic and Paralympic Games I held a role in the “Look of the Games” department. I was responsible for delivering the Olympic brand to the Swimming, 1996-Atlanta–Summer-Olympics-logoBoxing and Badminton venues. I learned and managed the process from design to production to installation. It was here that I realized my passion for connecting the creative process and making it happen on the delivery end. I’ve directed the “Look” program at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games and similar positions for numerous Olympic, Paralympic, Pan Am,Commonwealth, Canada and Invictus Games.


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KC: What brought you to SPAD?

SL: I’ve always been passionate about sports and had an interest in my business studies in high school. I was very fortunate to have a career councillor who identified SPAD as a potential fit for my future. Also, one of my coaches was a Laurentian grad who raved about the program and its opportunities. Seeing where some past graduates were working and the opportunity to get some practical experience in the Sports field through the internship program sealed it for me.

KC: How was your experience in the SPAD program?

SL: SPAD always felt like a family away from home. There was a work hard – play hard spirit that created a strong bond between classmates. The intensity of case studies such as presenting to the Montreal Canadiens were always challenging and rewarding. These learnings built the foundation for my career in Sports Administration. Many great memories and I am always proud to say I am a SPAD grad. This character is reflected today in SPAD’s well-connected alumni network.

KC: What internship experience did you gain during the program?

1993 SL: I secured a role with the 1993 Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, BC. It was an incredible chance to see behind the scenes and learn firsthand what goes into producing a multi-sport event. I really loved seeing the finished product as a result of all the collaborative efforts and how much it positively impacted the athletes and participants. I am extremely grateful for my internship opportunity and experience as it literally started my journey in the industry I have been so fortunate to forgo a career in.



KC: What did you learn through SPAD that still helps you with your job today?

SL: I remember the emphasis on group work. While the focus may have been on an area of study, the process of problem solving and working with different people was invaluable. In my career, I have lead many teams and have always worked as part of a larger team on complex projects. The collaborative nature of the SPAD program relates directly to most of my daily activities on the job today. 

KC: Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?

SL: Take advantage of any opportunity to gain practical experience, including the SPAD internship and even volunteering for organizations that interest you. Always be willing to take on any work asked of you, and by doing a good job, someone will take notice and good things will come of it. I still do some work with people I met during my internship, hence the importance of maintaining a positive network. Finally, enjoy what you do.

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SPAD would like to thank Steve for taking the time to speak to us about his past and current experiences. It is in part to these talented and successful alumni that make the program what it is today.


2017Nov 14

Once A Lady Vee, Always A Lady Vee

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Kauri LaFontaine, an alumna from Laurentian University. Kauri graduated from Laurentian in 2010 with a degree in Communications. While completing her degree, she represented the university by playing on the Women’s Varsity Basketball Team. She then attended Durham College to obtain a degree in Project Management. After completing her studies, LaFontaine pursued jobs relating to athletics. She has experience working with the Pan American Games that was held in Toronto in 2015, coaching the basketball team for Durham College, and played an administrative role for Rugby Canada. Now, she is back to where her career started; at Laurentian University. After a need for a change in management of the women’s varsity basketball team, Kauri LaFontaine was up for the challenge. Being introduced to a familiar, yet new, atmosphere plus having the pressure to succeed within one week is not something that every leader can accomplish. However, LaFontaine did.


To start the interview off, I asked LaFontaine, “what qualities can she bring towards the women’s basketball team?” She stated that her optimism, enthusiasm, and her ability to motivate her athletes by positively criticizing them. She then added that she is the type of coach to “tackle things head on” and try to be as transparent as possible as she believes that there should be no conflict within a team. Since Kauri was introduced to the team one week before the first game of the season, I asked, “what is your strategy in connecting with the Lady Vees?” She responded by stating that she is aware that relationships do take time to form. However, to speed the process, she tries her best to keep an “open door policy.” This means that any player has the opportunity to communicate with her during the day at any time.

Just like any coach within the Ontario University Athletics association, LaFontaine wants to see more wins than loses and ultimately make it to playoffs. However she wants to ensure that this season provides a deeper experience for the athletes. Her philosophy is that she wants to see her players achieve success both on and off the court. In addition, she wants to have a positive season where everyone can feel good with the work, time, and labour that they have put into the team. Ultimately she wants the team to be proud of their effort. Furthermore, she wants every member of the team to enjoy playing basketball again, develop new skills, and have their limitations become their strengths.

I then asked, what she tries to teach her athletes besides basketball. Her response is that she tries to teach her players how to be a good teammate. Not only that, but a good person. Kauri values being cordial especially, during the times of adversity. She believes that his is an intangible skill that is present throughout all aspects of life.

Laurentian Lady Vees Kauri Lafontaine charges down the court during OUA women's basketball action against the Ryerson Rams Friday night on Laurentian's home court. The Lady Vees clinched fourth spot in the OUA East standings after defeating the Rams 74-66. Lisa Furchner lead the team with 26 points and Darrah  Bumstead followed with 21 points and 17 rebounds. The Lady Vees will host an OUA quarter-final against the Rams Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Visit northernlife.ca for results from the game. Photo by Sabrina ByrnesFollowing that question, I asked how she feels coaching for team that she used to play for. She reminisced over the fact that she too stood on the court wearing the same jersey, she too changed in the change rooms representing Laurentian University, she knows exactly how it feels to play in front of a home crowd, she too has experienced everything that this current team is experiencing.

My final question for Kauri LaFontaine whether she can help her team reach new levels of success. Kauri answered by saying that the team has the potential to achieve greatness when every member puts their mind to, and performs as if they can achieve. A glimpse of their potential was demonstrated during the home opener against the University of Waterloo. She carried on to say that as long as we prepare ourselves mentally, focus on what we look like as a team, and remain consistent throughout all the games, there should be no reason as to why we cannot achieve new levels of success.

Considering that Kauri Lafontaine’s presence represents a new beginning, the Laurentian community, along with the competing schools are looking for to what LaFontaine and Laurentian Women’s Varsity Basketball Team has to bring this season.



2017Nov 14

Understanding the Sports Industry – Devon Hogan

Devon Hogan is currently the Group Sales Manager for both the Ottawa Senators and the Canadian Tire Centre. She manages and mentors a team of sales professionals that focus on establishing and maintaining long-term relationships with clients. Their main objective is to bring unique and personal experiences to loyal fans attending games.

On behalf of all SPAD students, we would like to thank Devon for taking the time out of her busy day to answer questions for the sole benefit of students. With 24 years of experience working in the sports industry here is her insight.

The following attachment holds the full phone interview with Devon. The interview contains 30 minutes of useful content provided by an individual with plenty of experience working within the sports industry. 

Q: What does a typical day at work look like for you?

My job starts from the moment I wake up. One of the first things I do is look at my phone to check what has come in overnight to see if there is anything that needs immediate attention. The only thing that would require immediate attention would be in the event that there is an upcoming game and tickets are selling very quickly. If something has come in overnight where somebody needed a few extra tickets and time is of the essence to get those tickets grabbed off of the system, we can get them for the client before somebody else grabs them.


Once I get into the office I deal with my three or four tasks that I plan to do at the very start of the day that are most important to get done first. If anything else comes up along the way as long as I have completed those tasks I know the day has become somewhat of a success. These tasks include following up with bigger groups of people that we have spoken to and they haven’t quite made a commitment to do a game with us, or following up with somebody within the marketing and graphics department where we are waiting on some piece of collateral that is integral to us being able to get something closed and sold.


Because I do manage the department I have other people that report to me. In a lot of cases, their needs take precedence over what my needs of the day are. If they have anything where they are experiencing a problem or they need a quick ‘OK’ approval on something they come to me. We have full-time people that work with us but we also have interns. A lot of the time it is giving them projects to work on so they are helping us along the way. Depending on who’s doing what, sometimes somebody has done something much quicker than you would or conversely you are waiting on something and then it is circling back to find out what is taking so long. There is a lot of internal communication in going back and forth within the office but then it is also making sure that myself along with the other account managers that I work with are finding the times to make sure that you are outbound and going to find those new contacts to keep the business coming in.

Q: When you get a chance to take a step back from work, how do you spend your time? 

Photo of Devon's family.

Photo of Devon’s family.

I am a mom of twins who are seven years old – Finn and Madigan. Between my husband and the kids, that is kind of what my free time consists of. They both play hockey for different teams and associations so they keep me busy running from rink to rink.

Q:  Would you say the sports industry is competitive when it comes to getting a job?

It is definitely competitive. If somebody is looking at getting into the sports industry the big way to get in is through ticket sales. The positions within ticket sales there is generally a lot of turn-over as it is very entry level, they are the people who are just getting started in the sports industry.

Do What Is Best For You

A bunch of people often realize “oh gosh sales is not for me” and then they move on. In some cases, they get in with sales but know they would really prefer to be in marketing or communications. They use ticket sales as a stepping stone to demonstrate their work ethic then proceed to what their true passion is. Other people just realize that the sports industry just isn’t really for them and work for a few short months in whatever capacity and just move onto something different. It is definitely difficult to get in but if you do a bunch of things right it can actually open doors pretty easily.   

Q: As a university student, did you always know what you wanted to do? How did you find your path?

I did – growing up I absolutely loved the NHL and being from Winnipeg I loved the Winnipeg Jets so that was my mission in life, to work within the Jets front office. Back in the day, we didn’t have the same sports management courses that we do now so for me I thought “what can I take in university that will show that I am interested in sport” and kind of set me up for an easier application with the Jets when the time came. I took a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Physical Activity and Sports Studies which is much similar to Human Kinetics. A lot of people that were in those courses actually wanted to be physiotherapists or chiropractors which involved taking a lot of science-oriented courses like anatomy and physiology. It let me put something on my resume that demonstrated that I really did have an affinity for sports.

Stepping Stones

At a very young age, I got on with the Winnipeg Jets on a part-time basis working as game night staff. I was a hostess in a section where I would work game nights and concerts to welcome people into the building, making sure that people got to their seats basically getting my foot in the door as far as the organization knowing who I was. I worked for them on a part-time basis in university for one summer in the ticketing department calling season ticket holders, getting their payments, and trying to relocate their seats for them if they wanted to move. It is not as if I had got my degree and then went in cold turkey to the Winnipeg Jets and applied, I had some building blocks to have the door open for me.

Q: When something didn’t go your way, how did you fix it? Can you provide an example?

Probably the biggest thing was when I had my dream job out of university working for the Winnipeg Jets and then two seasons later the team is gone and so was my dream. All I wanted to do was work in the NHL and I couldn’t do that at that point in time so I took the opportunity with the Manitoba Moose. I got sales experience where I wasn’t working within that capacity with the Jets when I first started out so having that sales experience is what opened the door for me to be able to come here to the Senators. Staying in sport was important if I wanted to get back into the NHL then working my way up from there.

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

When you are growing up you don’t hear anybody say “I want to be a salesperson”. Being in this industry now for 24, coming up to 25 years of working within sport, most of it as an actual salesperson, that is not what I set out to do and I didn’t think that would be something that I would end up doing. I honestly kind of found it by accident and realized I was really good at it. It is about selling the building, giving an experience to fans and building relationships with people which I absolutely love which allowed me to get where I am.

Q: What do you love most about your job and what would you say is the coolest part about working for the Ottawa Senators?

Fans celebrate in the first period as the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals at the Canadian Tire Centre. Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Fans celebrate in the first period as the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals at the Canadian Tire Centre. Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

Love What You Do and It Will Never Feel Like Work

I think the coolness is that you work for a team that is well loved within your community, that a lot of people envy the position. What I love most about my job is the satisfaction of those nights where the building is really full and we have between three and four thousand people attending the game that are there as part of a group. There is a huge sense of accomplishment knowing that we are filling up the building. It is also the little things where you are talking with somebody and their dad is coming out to celebrate his 90th birthday and there is a whole bunch of family coming in from wherever and you are enabling them to get the best seats possible – maybe sending our mascot Spartacat over to give a high-five and a happy birthday to create some memories for our clients.

It’s About Making Memories

When I first started in the industry it was all about selling tickets and people would ask “what are the discounts” or “what are the savings”, that was good enough for people. Over the years that has really morphed into people still wanting a savings because they are a group but also what extras can they get as well as what can make it more memorable. We are always tasked with what can we do so that they aren’t just coming to watch a hockey game but having an experience over and above that.

Q: What are your major accomplishments within the organization? Any major highlights of working for the Ottawa Senators?

Below is a video of an in-game recognition for one of the large groups the Ottawa Senators attends to. 

We have been the number one group sales team in the league for the last two seasons running. Over and above that, for the last, I would say 14 to 15 seasons we’ve been in the top 5 in the NHL. We are constantly delivering on the number of tickets sold per game but also the revenue that you are driving with that. There are a number of teams in the United States that will sell a lot of tickets but they might only be selling them for six or seven dollars whereas our net value on a group ticket is around the forty dollar mark which makes it exponentially tougher to sell a lot of tickets and still try to get a good deal out of it – I’m really proud of that.


Q: How important is it for applicants to keep a level of professionalism on their social media? Is this something that your organization looks into when hiring?

For me, when I have somebody who has applied for a position the first thing that myself and members of my team will do is check out their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, basically creeping the person to see what it looks like.

Your Personal Brand

As much as you think Facebook is private it is very much public. We have had people that would go on to check someone’s social media to look at their pictures and it is all just partying. Having said that, I try to keep it in context that obviously this is their personal page and that everyone likes to have fun but I think there is a fine line. The only other thing I would say about that is there have been different people who have worked for us both interns and full-time that have made their opinions known on social media about the team but they are once again speaking personally, however, being a representative of the team whether it is during an internship or actually working for the team, you are still a part of the team and we have had people lose their positions over comments made socially so it is something that is certainly watched.

Q: What factors would separate one candidate from another? What specific things do you look for in applicants?

For us being in Ottawa, one thing that always jumps out on a resume is someone who is bilingual. The next one for me is people showing leadership, for example in different things they have done whether it be through school or extracurricular activities such as taking the lead on different projects or someone who was the captain of a team or have coached. I firmly believe that when you are in sales you need to be a leader.

Q: Finally, What advice do you have to offer to those applying for jobs within the sports industry?

Experience, Experience, Experience

Get experience whether it be through volunteering or once you have a contact be sure to keep in touch with that person. This is your foot in the door. Never be shy about asking for an introduction because if you have one contact they might know someone who can help you get to your main goal.

Build Relationships

Asking for their advice and really trying to make connections within the sports industry is important. Use those connections to help you along the way because that is really what is going to differentiate yourself from anyone else.

Keep in Touch

Follow-ups are really important as well especially when somebody has interviewed you and following up whether it be later on that day or at the very latest the next morning just thanking the person for their time, opening up that door to having any other questions, I always appreciate that.

Once again, we would like to thank Devon for her time in giving some helpful advice to our students. We wish Devon and her team all the best in the 2017-18 season, Go Sens Go!

2017Nov 14

From a Basement to the World

For some people the game of golf can be a constant struggle to keep the ball in play and out of the hazard that seems to act as a golf ball magnet. For the world’s best however, it can be a game of inches. Dave Makarucha has dedicated the last 15 years of his working career to creating the best possible shaft for golfers everywhere.

Gawain Robertson (Left) and Dave Makarucha (Right), Co-founders of ACCRA Golf

Gawain Robertson (Left) and Dave Makarucha (Right), Co-founders of ACCRA Golf

                With a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfred Laurier University, Dave Makarucha eventually found himself working at Wilson Sports as a logistics supervisor. In 2002, he left Wilson Sports and started his own company with his now long-term business partner, Gawain Roberson. Together they started PGMC and became the distributer of United Sports Technology (UST) for the Canadian market.

                Originally working out of their respective basements in Kingston, Ontario, Dave and Gawain fostered relationships with custom club fitters across the country. In 2004 they purchased the brand ACCRA from UST with the idea of developing a high-performance golf shaft dedicated to club fitters. 14 PGA tour players put an ACCRA shaft in their bag in the first week. ACCRA Golf shafts have been in the bags for over 50 PGA Tour wins and was used by Luke Donald while he was the #1 ranked golfer in the world in 2011.

ACCRA has grown and continues to be a world leader in the high-end graphite golf shaft market. They are the world’s largest aftermarket distributer of golf shafts with club fitters located primarily across the United States and Canada.

Justin MacDonald and Ken Thompson of ACCRA Golf

Justin MacDonald (Left) and Ken Thompson (Right) of ACCRA Golf

ACCRA also works with Lee Porter Golf Solutions who is located in Margaretting, England. Lee is an integral part of the ACCRA business model and acts as ACCRA’s distributer for Europe and the Middle East, while the main office in Kingston, Ontario services the Americas, Australia, South Africa, and Japan.

Dave and Gawain recently started a relationship with True Temper to be their exclusive after-market distributer. True Temper Golf has a history spanning over 100 years and is one of the world’s leaders in steel golf shafts. With this new partnership ACCRA is set to expand bigger than ever before and take the world of golf by storm.

2017Nov 14

Matthew Wilkes Profile

By: Zef Kraja | November 14, 2017

For this profile I was lucky enough to interview a recent SPAD graduate and close friend of mine, Matthew Wilkes, who I had the pleasure of playing alongside for the Laurentian Men’s Soccer team. Matt WilkesBelow, Matthew tells us a little bit about himself, his experience in SPAD, his life after graduating, and leaves us with some important advice for the future. I’d like to thank Matt for taking time out of his day to help me with this profile as well as letting me share it with the class. He made it a very easy and enjoyable process.

Q&A with Matthew Wilkes:

ZK: Tell me a little about yourself, where you’re from, and where you grew up, hobbies of yours etc.

MW: I was born in Ottawa before moving to Whitby at a young age where I currently live now. I grew up playing every sport but primarily excelling at soccer and hockey. Hobbies include traveling, being outdoors, hanging out with friends and playing sports. I love being active and being in a team environment as much as possible.

ZK: How did you hear about SPAD and why did you choose it as a program?

MW: My guidance counsellor and high school soccer coach Tom Plommer was the one to notify me about the school and program. Mr. Plommer is a Laurentian Alumni of Human Kinetics and played four year of soccer at Laurentian. I chose SPAD because of my love for sport and the opportunity to receive a business degree. With my dream to work for a professional sport organization, I believed SPAD would create the most opportunities for me to achieve this goal. Knowing SPAD was a co-op program I knew this would be a great opportunity to receive valuable industry experience.

ZK: What were your aspirations first coming into the program and how did they change throughout the years?

MW: Coming into Laurentian I was extremely driven to focus heavily on sport management and operations with the hope of one day working in hockey operations and promotions for the Toronto Maple Leafs. As time when on and I completed Sports Marketing and Tom Blake’s Sales course, I was sold. I knew right there and then that Sales was the direction I wanted to focus on and it was the right position for me.

ZK: How did you spend your time at Laurentian (extracurricular), as well as some of
your favourite memories?Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 4.07.14 PM

MW: I spent majority of my time playing soccer for the university team, hanging out with friends and playing as many intermural sports as possible. My favourite university memories were (1) in my second year playing number one ranked Carleton at home and beating them 2-1 in a thrilling fast paced match. (2) Scoring my first OUA goal at home against Trent University. (3) Presenting my industry consulting project to the Vice President of Business Development at the Baltimore Ravens organization.

ZK: Who do you work for now and what’s your position there?

MW: I work for IMG (International Management Group), I am a Sales Executive for the North American Arts & Entertainment and Culinary division.

ZK: Take me through the process of getting the job. What internships or opportunities lead to this?

MW: I obtained the position from networking throughout the office and completing two internships with the organization. First internship as the Operations and Client Services Intern for Taste of Toronto and Professional Bull Riding. My second internship was the Operations Intern for The Big Feastival. Sitting down with higher up executives and directors at IMG, helped me gain an understanding on what it takes in the entertainment industry and acquired knowledge on tips and tricks from there experience.1200px-IMG_(business).svg

ZK: What lessons from SPAD have you learned that are helping you in this job or helped you in the job search process?

MW: SPAD has equipped me with the knowledge and experience to succeed in the business world. With constant presentations dating back to first year, it had prepped me to control a room and present ideas and findings to higher up executives in my organization. Having the confidence to own the room and present ideas has helped me excel in my current position.

ZK: What are your aspirations for the future?

MW: My aspirations for the future are to get into Strategic Partnerships. Whether it be for a sport organization or consumer goods company such as PepsiCo or Procter & Gamble. I want to work on the sponsorship side to create memorable and exciting partnerships and activations in years to come.SPAD-LOGO-4

ZK: Any advice you could give to current SPAD students?

MW: Don’t be afraid to take an unpaid internship, experience is extremely valuable in the sport and entertainment industry. Continue to work hard and always look to improve.
Reach out to alumni and industry professional to network and gain a better understanding of different companies and departments.