Throughout March, the Canadian Premier League will celebrate the contributions and showcase the impact of the women of the Canadian Premier League. We are proud to recognize the influence the women of our League have on our community both individually and collectively. We hope their stories inspire girls and women to see a future in our beautiful game, whether on the field or off of it, because if she can see it, she can be it.
Today, Hannah Wellon, Media Coordinator, Cavalry FC, and Trisha Lees, PR and Communications, Pacific FC, share their experience working in PR and Communications:
When Hannah Wellon took the job as Media Coordinator at Cavalry FC, she never thought it would move her to tears.
Wellon spends most of her days answering media requests, scheduling interviews and writing press releases, but an encounter with a young fan during her first season with the club in 2022 made her realize that even though she’s not on the pitch, she has the power and visibility to influence the next generation of women in sport.
A fan reached out to Cavalry’s general club email looking for a photo of her daughter, taken at one of the team’s games. Wellon knew the young girl in the picture as a member of Cavalry’s community and made good on sharing the photo, delivering it to her home along with a gift box filled with team merchandise.
“[The young fan] would see that I was one of the only women working the game. And she would come over and say ‘I want to be you one day.’ And I told her that you can absolutely do that,” Wellon said. “So when I showed up to her house, she started crying… it was really emotional and special for me too, I definitely teared up.”
Connecting with the community is one of Wellon’s favourite parts of her job, and she makes an effort to share their stories. To Wellon, Cavalry’s fans make the club shine just as much as the players do.
“I love seeing the fans happy and being able to tell their stories,” she said. “Overall, I’d say I’m working in my dream job and dream sport… it’s a really refreshing place to be.”
Dreams aside, the reality of working in PR and Communications is that Wellon is on call 24/7. It is her responsibility to manage how the world sees and interacts with the club, a tall task especially when the league and its club are still so new to the Canadian sports scene. She’s also in charge of scheduling social media posts, fulfilling the players’ media expectations and managing Cavalry’s brand, which requires a lot of trust and energy.
“People probably don’t realize the demand of it… I’m so happy that I’m in the position I’m in, but you have to be on top of everything and prepared for any situation,” Wellon said.
Trisha Lees, who runs public relations and communications for Pacific FC, agreed there is a lot more to the job than media and interviews. Effective communication is an underrated yet powerful component in any successful business, not to mention in a burgeoning league like the CPL.
Strong writing skills, organization, and an ability to make quick decisions are just some of skills needed to be a strong communicator, said Lees.
“You have to be able to think on your feet. In a match, everything is happening live and all sorts of weird stuff happens… you have to be able to just figure it out and that has to be done thoughtfully and carefully with good judgment,” Lees said.
“Your brain can be in a few places at once. Sometimes it’s intense, other times it’s quieter. Sometimes I’m on the pitch with players, other times I’m in meetings all day… But I like being part of a team and a group that’s all driven toward a common cause.”
In addition to her colleagues at Pacific FC, Lees collaborates with other counterparts who work in public relations and communications roles across the League, such as Wellon, Stephanie Lamanna, Public Relations Coordinator at York United FC, and Laura Armstrong, Senior Director of Communications at the CPL.
Together, these women form a professional support network of sorts, whether it’s connecting to brainstorm new ways to tell the clubs’ stories, using each other as sounding boards in challenging moments or just catching up as colleagues who are attuned with the demands of the day-to-day job.
“My advice for women wanting to do this [job] someday is to find the outlets that will support you,” said Lees. “You have to believe that you can be in any role that exists. Even if the role has been done by a male in the past… we’re challenging that norm and women are getting into these roles. You can do it.”
Julia Ranney is a freelance writer based in Toronto.