HK grad students get inside look at pro sport career opportunities

Many kids involved with sports grow up dreaming about being a professional athlete someday, but a group of grad students in kinesiology recently got an inside look at how they can turn their passion into a livelihood by visiting with employees from several sport organizations in Toronto.

Students in the Master of Human Kinetics, Sport Management program travelled to Toronto earlier this month and got to meet with people from the city’s Sports Council, the Toronto Blue Jays, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment – the parent company of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, The Toronto Marlies and the Toronto F.C. soccer team.

“It really gave us a chance to get some one-on-one time with people who are working in the industry and gave us some good ideas about what we can do to be in the same position someday,” said Mike Ayotte, a member of the university’s men’s golf team who originally hails from Oshawa.

This was the first time in several years that students in the program went on such a field trip to Toronto, said professor Jess Dixon, one of two faculty members who accompanied the students on the expedition.

“We were able to leverage our vast alumni network and get the students inside these facilities to see what these organizations are all about,” said Dr. Dixon. “We really wanted them to get a sense of the breadth of opportunities that are available within the Canadian sport industry.”

On their first day in Toronto, the dozen students who attended were hosted for breakfast by employees of the Blue Jays, followed by a tour of the Rogers Centre where the baseball team plays. After lunch at Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant, they went to Toronto City Hall, where they met with members of the city’s sports council, which actively promotes sport and physical recreation. They stayed at the Renaissance Hotel, located at the Rogers Centre and some of them took in the Jays-Twins game that night.

The next morning they met with a group from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, followed by a tour of the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. Amanda Morrison, who is originally from London, said it was interesting to hear how many people “fell” into their positions.

“A lot of doors opened up for them because of positions that they were willing to take,” said Morrison, who has worked in a variety of jobs with the Knights, her hometown’s Ontario Hockey League Junior A team. “Many of them were willing to take on additional roles and responsibilities, and because of their passion and commitment, were able to work their way up."

Most students gravitate towards the “glitz” of pro sports organizations, but Kylie Wasser, from Burlington, said she found it enlightening to meet with those who worked in the municipal sector with the Toronto Sports Council, some of whom were working on preparations for the Pan-Am Games in 2015. Dixon said there are all kinds of opportunities working in municipal and other government sectors in sport and recreation management.

“It’s an important sector of the sport industry that’s often overlooked by many people,” he said.


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