Sport Management student shoots for career goals

Indigenous sport and hockey are lifelong passions for Lucas Rotondo, who grew up playing the game and is a member of Michipicoten First Nation in Wawa, Ont.

A recent experiential education opportunity supporting the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) brought the third-year Brock University Sport Management student one step closer to a career pursuing his interests.

Rotondo was one of three Brock students who joined Assistant Professor Taylor McKee to collect survey data and assist event organizers at the NAHC in Winnipeg, Man., from Sunday, May 7 to Saturday, May 13.

One person is operating a video camera, while another person is holding out a microphone to interview a hockey player with Team Manitoba.

Lucas Rotondo (right) films an interview with a Team Manitoba hockey player.

The students were given the unique opportunity to work with veteran videographers from Shaw Spotlight to film footage of the NAHC for social media updates and the future creation of a documentary-style production about the Manitoba men’s and women’s teams’ experiences.

He found it especially rewarding that his efforts helped educate others about the high-calibre hockey that takes place at the tournament.

“Portraying and communicating the level of skill and cultural significance of this tournament to sport fans across the country is something I’ll always remember,” he said.

Rotondo’s NAHC experience was part of a four-month summer internship with the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council (MASRC) to promote sport for Indigenous people throughout Manitoba.

In addition to filming and posting to social media, Rotondo helped distribute surveys that asked Team Manitoba players and parents about their demographic information and experiences with hockey.

“This data is important because Team Manitoba has historically been successful in the NAHC,” he said. “These are elite players with exceptionally high skill levels.”

The data collected at NAHC will assist MASRC in better understanding what has enabled the success of their players and which areas could be better supported.

Rotondo’s journey to the NAHC began eight months ago in a Sport Management class led by McKee on management concepts and non-profits. As part of the experiential education course, Rotondo and his classmates collaborated with the Indigenous Hockey Research Network to help raise the profile of the NAHC.

He took on a shared role as class communications lead. Under his guidance, the class increased followers of the NAHC’s Instagram page, created an online database and map of Indigenous hockey players and elevated the profile of the tournament within the Brock and Niagara communities.

“Being in that leadership role was probably my first practical experience with having that responsibility in a work setting,” he said. “I learned that it was a skill I was good at and wanted to develop.”

Rotondo’s interest in enhancing his leadership and project management skills, combined with his desire to make an even greater impact in Indigenous hockey, led him to expand on the class’ efforts to raise awareness of the NAHC in an independent study supervised by McKee.

It was then that McKee approached Rotondo with the opportunity to take on a summer internship that would have him volunteer with the NAHC and other Indigenous sports.

With his NAHC involvement complete, Rotondo will continue supporting the MASRC with initiatives such as the 2023 North American Indigenous Games taking place July 15 to 23 in Kjipuktuk (Halifax).

“I am grateful for experiences like these because they are helpful in clarifying where I want to take my career,” he said. “When I graduate, I want to work for an organization that values the impact I can make.”

Rotondo’s internship with the MASRC is funded in part by Mitacs. Also interning with MASRC this summer and volunteering at the NAHC was fourth-year Sport Management student Nick Lacoste. At NAHC, the pair worked with Master of Science in Applied Health Sciences student Bryce Salverda, who supported the tournament as part of a related project funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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