While the City of Windsor rallies behind the Spitfires’ quest for the Memorial Cup, a cohort from the University of Windsor will be cheering loudly for the visiting Saint John Sea Dogs.
Saint John, N.B., has affectionately been dubbed “Odette East” after a partnership with the junior hockey team has led to experiential learning opportunities for students in the master of business administration program.
“If you were to have told me seven years ago that I would be returning to Windsor with my own team and they would be playing on opening night against the Spits — a team I cheered for — I don’t think I would have believed you,” said Trevor Georgie, president and general manager of the Sea Dogs. “It’s surreal. You couldn’t have written a better narrative, and there’s still a lot of the story that has yet to be written with this team.”
Georgie graduated from the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business in 2010 and worked as an MBA student for Peter Dobrich, who was then part-owner of the Spitfires.
He was named the president of the Sea Dogs in January 2016 and general manager later that year, making him the youngest president in the Canadian Hockey League.
And while his new position has taken him to Canada’s east coast, Georgie has maintained a close relationship with his alma mater.
“The work ethic that you have coming out of the MBA program makes you willing to put yourself out there to get experience and contribute,” said Georgie, whose brother Vincent Georgie is director of the Odette MBA program. “It was really important for me to inject young, educated, driven, quality people into the organization and community of Saint John.”
It didn’t take long before the Sea Dogs became a corporate partner in the MBA’s Advanced Program for Experiential Consulting (APEX).
A total of 11 students have worked on various projects with the Sea Dogs.
Matthew Charma, Kevin Hamilton and Sophie Stephenson were hired by the Sea Dogs to continue working after graduating from the program.
“This partnership has done more than just teach me what it’s like to work in hockey,” said MBA student Shawn Quigg, one of six students currently researching the bid process for hosting a Memorial Cup. “I actually got to see it, feel it and experience it.”
Quigg and his classmates were in Montreal when the Sea Dogs defeated the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada to sweep the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship.
“It was a lot of fun and was really nice to get some face time with the owners,” said Parker Van Buskirk, another MBA student currently working with the Sea Dogs. “We had not just Trevor and their management, but the governor from their board of directors and one of the owners to talk to answer our questions. They were so engaging and really helpful.”
Georgie said working with the students is extremely gratifying and is one of the things he values most about his job.
“Richard Peddie always used to say that he was most proud and judged his success based on how many people that worked for him went on to become presidents of their own company,” Georgie said. “And so, I define success by how many of those that have worked on my team have gone on to have really special careers and are doing something they’re passionate about.”
The Sea Dogs opened the Memorial Cup with a 3-2 loss to the hosting Windsor Spitfires, but shut out the Seattle Thunderbirds 7-0 on Tuesday to advance to Friday’s semifinal. The winner there will face off against Windsor in Sunday's tournament championship game.