The Toronto Maple Leafs recently offered Brock Sport Management students a rare behind-the-bench experience they will never forget.
Representatives from the fan-favourite team, including General Manager and Brock Alumnus Kyle Dubas (BSM ’07), gave 250 SPMA students insight into the franchise during an exclusive Speakers Forum held Saturday at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls.
Dubas is among several notable Brock alumni who have returned to campus through the years to inspire the next generation. The Sept. 15 forum, however, was particularly unique as it allowed students to see the successful grad in his element.
Students had the opportunity to hear from and participate in a question-and-answer session with Dubas; Toronto Maple Leafs In-game host Danielle Emanuele; Toronto Maple Leafs Director of Client Services, Event Experience Team Duncan Fraser; and Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni and NHL Broadcaster Brad May.
“Kyle and the rest of the speakers shared their personal and professional insights into the industry and how working in sport can be both rewarding and exhilarating at the same time,” says Sport Management Student Council President David Stark.
“I think the biggest message I got from the speakers is that as students, we need to make sure we are dedicating our time right now for our future,” he says. “It won’t come easy and we need to seek out experiences. This means being involved and being mindful of who we surround ourselves with.”
Dubas said the opportunity to share personal experience and field questions from Brock students is “always a great experience.”
“I hope the students were able to come away with something of value, as their questions and curiosity certainly challenged me and pushed me to continue to improve our process here with the Maple Leafs,” he said.
While the Department of Sport Management has continuously nurtured relationships with alumni since the late 1990s, more formalized efforts have taken place with the Department’s hosting of the annual SPMA Alumni Day in addition to events that bring alumni back to the classroom to share their knowledge with students.
“This opportunity with MLSE is really the result of the commitment of faculty and staff to support students and develop relationships with industry partners and alumni that go beyond graduation day, and continue throughout their careers,” says Department of Sport Management Chair Kirsty Spence.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs called Brock in mid-August to propose the forum, Spence knew immediately it would be a valuable student experience.
“I cannot thank the organizers enough for conceiving of this event and reaching out to us,” Spence says. “I knew right away it would be a win for our SPMA Student Council, who could take this event and run with its development, and a real boost for student enthusiasm and engagement leading up to and during the event. It was a hit from the get-go.”
The Sport Management Student Council had very little time to mobilize the executive team, but was able to hit the ground running before classes started and get planning underway.
Stark says it was exciting to be able to assist in bringing an event of this magnitude, in partnership with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, to life for Brock students.
But the biggest reward was “being able to provide our first-year students insight into the industry so soon into their academic careers,” he says. “Our success is a testament to our years of quality education at Brock. It was so exciting to be able to use our skills and put them into practice for Brock Alumnus Kyle Dubas who has brought so much attention to our program and continues to give back.”
Following the forum, students also watched training-camp activities, including the team’s full roster on the ice for practices, scrimmages and player analysis.
“I am pleased that everyone had an enjoyable experience. It was certainly an action-packed weekend and having Brock be a part of it was one of our highlights,” said Mike Ferriman, MLSE Director of Event Presentation and Director of Alumni Relations for the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Building experiences such as the Brock Sport Management Speakers Forum, our visits to Hornblower Cruises and Mary Ward Catholic Elementary School, our end-of-camp barbecue and involvement with the Terry Fox Run, Canadian Armed Forces and the Niagara Children’s Centre are a big part of what makes our training camp so special for our team staff, alumni and fans.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs held their 2018-19 training camp for the second year at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls from Sept. 14 to 16. Fans of all ages came out to watch the players prepare for their upcoming season.