A Fort Frances local has achieved his dream of working in the NHL – and has landed with the Winnipeg Jets.
Cameron Penney, Social Media Manager at True North Sports Entertainment, the company that owns the Jets, said he works in collaboration with a large team, putting together content and connecting with their fans on digital platforms.
Penney, only five months into his new role, said social media opens a lot of doors and creates a lot of opportunities to get to know fans in different ways.
Penney has always been a hockey fan himself; he played the sport growing up, with high hopes of making it to the big leagues someday.
“At a young age, just like any kid, you’re thinking about the NHL,” Penney chuckled. “I realized that I definitely did not have the skillset to play hockey at a higher level.”
“But I knew I wanted to be involved in sports as a career. I looked at the different types of roles there were in the sports industry, and storytelling definitely has always been a passion of mine.”
Penney said the road to the Jets has been a building of steps he took since high school, starting with a co-op opportunity at the Fort Frances Times.
“That was kind of the career path I thought I wanted,” Penney said. “The experience with the Times, just contributing a couple of stories per week for the paper and getting pictures for the Bulletin. It really showed me that was something I want to keep working toward.”
Penney said the experience he gained from writing for the local paper has opened a lot of doors after going off to university.
“Mike Behan, the editor at the time, taught me more about writing in terms of what I do today, than I learned in any classroom environment,” he added. “It really prepared me well to gain some additional experiences outside the classroom with the student paper at Carleton University.”
Penney studied journalism at Carleton University before transferring to the University of Ottawa’s communications program.
“During my undergraduate degree, I did a lot of work with the varsity hockey teams at the University of Ottawa, doing communications, social media, graphic design, video editing, photography, and just about everything in that capacity there,” Penney said.
After graduation, Penney was hired by the university to continue working with the varsity hockey teams. He was then hired by the Moncton Wildcats to be the Manager of Community Relations and Fan Experience.
“I moved out to Moncton right before the COVID pandemic in March 2020,” Penney said. “I was lucky enough to work with that team through the pandemic in preparation for the upcoming season in 2021.”
In Moncton, Penney learned more about the business side of hockey. He learned the combination of creating content and linking it to the different elements of the business.
“What I really like about social media is that there’s a massive collaborative approach with all the different departments in the organization.”
In his previous roles, Penney said he had to wear a lot of different hats and take on a lot of responsibility.
“Here, I’m really lucky to be working closely with a number of different people with a wide variety of skill sets,” Penney said. “During the game, I’ll be tweeting the updates on who scored the goal and what’s going on. And meanwhile, we’ve got other talented people in the building that are getting pictures and taking videos.”
Seven years ago, Penney said he would never have predicted he would be where he is now. But being open to new opportunities opened different doors.
“At first, I envisioned myself as being a beat reporter for a newspaper. But then I found I had such a great experience working in this industry,” Penney said.
“I didn’t know I wanted to work for a team – until I started working for one.”