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I’m incredibly passionate about making hockey a safer, more welcoming sport.

Shelbi Kilcollins

Director of Marketing & Growth

Peterborough Petes

× The interview with Shelbi Kilcollins was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

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1Tell us about your role as Director of Marketing & Growth for the Peterborough Petes. What does a typical day look like for you?

As the Director of Marketing and Growth with the Petes I oversee the small but mighty marketing department of the team, which includes Riley Maracle, Sr. Coordinator of Game Operations, Justin Currier, Communication Coordinator, and Connor Massie, our Marketing and Events Assistant (in addition to our team of interns and co-op students).

Under our umbrella, we oversee all digital and print content creation, the execution of all corporate partnership digital assets, media relations, the Petes Alumni Relations Program, major and virtual events, game operations, fan engagement and community initiatives.

Similar to most who work in the sports industry, my itinerary differs dramatically from day to day.

On an average day, I am editing a variety of content that comes across my desk, coordinating interviews with staff and players for media, and working with other external stakeholders to launch/plan upcoming events or campaigns.

2The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the way sports organizations execute their marketing and promotions initiatives. How have you adapted to these changes using new and innovative marketing efforts in order to reach stakeholders?

We take a lot of pride in how the Petes have adjusted our marketing strategies over the last six months.

Our content creation has shifted to include the secondary and tertiary stories of the organization, including the behind-the-scenes of the staff that allows the business to operate, alumni stories with a human-interest twist, and those of our most notorious fans.

Riley Maracle has put together an incredible Thursday night virtual show that is streamed from our Facebook page live, called TNL.

This is a spin-off of SNL and includes a Q&A session with a crucial figure in hockey and components of our game night (intermission activations, etc…).

During this time we have been able to take on a more analytical approach in assessing what kind of content we need to be putting out.

We also haven’t forgotten the bread and butter of our organization which is using the Petes platform to draw fans together, in person.

With the assistance of Peterborough Public Health, the City of Peterborough, and Peterborough Police we were able to execute a city-wide trick-or-treating event, the Petes Not-so-Scary Halloween (trick or treating was cancelled this year in Peterborough).

The parade-style event saw Petes mascot Roger and the Petes staff deliver candy to thousands of kids, and turned into a marquee event of the fall. We doubled-down at Christmas time (Petes Very Merry Christmas), with a similar style event that stretched a distance three times the size of the Halloween event and included more floats.

Beyond the excitement and fan engagement of the event, we were able to collect over 1300 points of data across the two events, which has been a focus of ours throughout the last 6 months. 

3We would love to share your favourite moment(s) from working in marketing for the Peterborough Petes with our audience! Tell us about some of your favourite marketing content, promotions or general moments throughout your career. What made them special to you?

I’m incredibly passionate about making hockey a safer, more welcoming sport.

A large focus of our work this year has been centered around making the sport more accessible at every level.

One of my favourite events we ever executed was a Try Hockey Night with the Peterborough New Canadian Centre. On November 14, 2019, we welcomed 60 new Canadians for Try Hockey Night.

All 60 new Canadians, who ranged from 6 to 60 years of age, were introduced to hockey with the help of the Peterborough Girls Hockey Association Peewee AA Ice Kats who showed and taught the group how to skate, hold a hockey stick, shoot the puck, and many more on-ice activities.

Since the event, we have launched a pilot program in supporting families financially and logistically of the New Canadian Centre in joining a local minor hockey program with the help of the Gainey Foundation, and hope to roll it out into a more formal program.

4A part of your role is creating and facilitating long term hockey fans while bridging the gap between the Peterborough Petes and groups that are marginalized when it comes to the sport of hockey. How do you feel bridging this gap invokes positive change within the Peterborough Petes community?

Listen, there has been so much gatekeeping in hockey that hurts those trying to access it and the growth of the game.

Peterborough is a compassionate community that prides itself on being a hockey hub, and it's our responsibility internally to hold people accountable and create an inclusive, anti-racist environment where kids see the Petes as an organization they want to be a part of.

Beyond the conduct, we need to answer the systemic issues like: how can we offer free accessible hockey programming because the sport costs so much?

Have we offered content that highlights the diverse range of voices in hockey?

The Petes are a key organization in the Peterborough community and we understand that by taking meaningful action to answer these questions, we will create a welcoming, more inclusive city.

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5You seem to have a passion for growing the access to sport and the love of hockey amongst girls in the Peterborough community, given your role and your position as Head Coach with the Peterborough Girls Hockey Association. Tell us about the importance of creating a space like this for young girls.

I got into coaching because Billy Bowker, a mentor of mine, started having me push pucks for him at his hockey school for five hours a day at 14 years old.

I would passively take in what he was doing and what other instructors were doing on the ice, especially his daughter Cassidy who is ten years older than me, and eventually became a head instructor at the camp which lead to my current coaching position as a Head Coach with the PGHA.

A lot of people don’t recognize that those passive instructing positions are often given to the boys, so that ends up being who coaches in the future across all levels.

I make a serious effort whenever I am bringing out additional help onto the ice, to pull 14-15 year old girls from the Ice Kats program to help me (doesn’t matter if I’m coaching girls or boys).

I want to feed the coaching pipeline with as many girls as I can, and it starts at a young age where they can get a sense of where/when to push pucks, how to plan a practice, etc.

I’ve coached a variety of age groups, boys and girls, and it's incredibly important to me that they see women in leadership positions, and know that this is an option for them in their future. 

Jaelyn Terrion Jaelyn's Final Thoughts

Shelbi Kilcollins, Peterborough Petes Director of Marketing & Growth, is a very passionate individual and a driving force behind growing the sport of hockey to be more inclusive and celebrate diversity. It is clear that in her role overseeing the marketing department, she prioritizes establishing meaningful connections with fans and making hockey accessible at all levels while breaking down existing barriers to the sport. She has been able to lead incredible programs and initiatives that focus on holding the Peterborough hockey community accountable for fostering positive social change. Her commitment to turning words into meaningful action when it comes to addressing systemic issues in sport is both amazing and inspiring, and definitely, something that any professional involved in sport can and should integrate into their career moving forward. 

Connect With Shelbi Kilcollins

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