By Luke Whitehouse
The American Hockey League, also known as the “AHL,” is the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League. It welcomes many talented players and coaches who eventually make their mark on the biggest stage in the aforementioned NHL. There is even an AHL team right here in Springfield: The Springfield Thunderbirds. To work inside the confines of one of these leagues is an amazing opportunity. For Springfield College senior Cole Crynock, this has become a reality.
Crynock, who’s enrolled in the Sport Management program and is a part of the Pride baseball team, needed a full-time internship for the fall of his senior year. He knew that a lot of prior students had an internship with the AHL, and that it had been a successful stepping stone for those that were once in his shoes. One of Crynocks friends, Ava Fernandez, had done just that. She is now working with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. With a little help and convincing from Fernandez, he decided to submit his resume and apply to be an AHL intern.
“She pushed me to apply,” Crynock said. “She said it was a great experience.”
That was all the convincing Crynock needed. There was one issue, however; he didn’t know much about hockey, and this was an internship for an established hockey league. But just like Fernandez, who also didn’t have prior hockey expertise, Crynock jumped at the opportunity to take the position after he was offered.
“There’s definitely pieces that you’re missing,” Crynock said. “But you notice it’s more about running a business and reaching fans…that’s most important.”
Crynock will be doing a variety of day to day jobs. He will be assisting in the marketing department, the business development department, hockey operations and even social media. With an abundance of daily tasks, communication skills are very important. Although the lack of hockey knowledge has been a small roadblock, Crynock leans on his preparation through his experiences at Springfield.
“[Springfield College] has helped a lot with pushing everyone to make sure our resumés and cover letters are updated and [being prepared] for interviews,” Crynock said. “And then also communication skills and writing skills.”
Colleges are there to teach the skills necessary to succeed once students graduate — and they often do. However, Crynock explains, they can only do so much. You have to be a “go-getter” and prepare yourself as much as possible on your own.
“I think the biggest thing on your own is just making sure you get out and gain experience on your own,” Crynock said.
Those who graduate with a sport management degree have many avenues they can travel upon. For Crynock, this opportunity is a chance to get a great experience working within a league, while also finding his niche.
“It’s really about getting your feet wet in a bunch of different departments and seeing what I like and don’t like…and go from there.” Crynock said.
Crynock will have plenty of opportunity to experience everything, as he will be working a schedule that replicates what a real work week after college will consist of.
“It’s basically a full time job,” Crynock said. “I’m here 40 hours a week during the whole semester.”
Along with getting an incredible experience, an internship like this lends itself to provide the necessary skills that are needed for the professional workplace. With Crynock graduating at the end of the academic year, paying attention to the work environment and obtaining those skills are important.
“Everybody’s super detail oriented,” Crynock said. “ Everybody does their job well and pays attention to what exactly needs to be done that day to make the league successful.”
Although Crynock has already experienced a lot in such a short amount of time, there is still so much to see. Learning how operations work from a league office standpoint has definitely been a highlight for Crynock.
The AHL season begins on Oct. 14, and will conclude April 16, 2023. They are operating with 32 teams playing 72 games each. Crynock looks to make the most of his time during the fall semester. And with the hockey season yet to begin, Crynock could not be more excited for what’s to come. When asked about his favorite part of the internship, there was a clear answer.
“My favorite part [of the internship]…I think it’s going to be when the puck drops,” Crynock said, with a smile. “I think that’ll be super exciting when that happens.”
Photo Courtesy of Cole Crynock