Women’s hockey internship has steep learning curve

Brianna Montgomery \\ Photo by Charles Hallman

The National Women Hockey League’s (NWHL’s) first-year Minnesota Whitecaps is the first local pro team in this century to have someone not White working in its marketing and public relations department.

In the early 1990s, the University of Minnesota had exactly two Blacks — one male and one female — as assistant sports information directors in their then-separate sports information departments. Since then there have been none, and to my knowledge, the other teams in town have yet to find their Jackie Robinson of PR.

Brianna Montgomery applied for and eventually was hired as an intern in the Whitecaps front office. She expects to graduate this spring from the University of Minnesota in journalism and then actively pursue a behind-the-scenes position in sports, an area historically tracked for Whites only. 

I certainly hope that there is more diversity in the future. It’s really important to me.

“I came to college undecided,” Montgomery recalled. “For a while, I wanted to be a doctor. I thought also [about] dermatology. I thought I wanted to be a teacher.

“I took a sports management class my sophomore year. It was pretty interesting. In that class we had to do an informal internship with someone in sports,” Montgomery continued. “My group interviewed the community relations director for the Twins. I literally fell in love with her daily tasks and what she was working around.

“I did my research on how to get a job like that. Right after that, I applied to the School of Journalism,” Montgomery said. 

The Whitecaps joined the WNHL as the Twin Cities’ first women’s pro hockey franchise. “I was looking for internships this [past] summer,” Montgomery stated. “I researched who the Whitecaps were and their history. I applied. They got back to me and wanted to interview me.”

Working with the club in its first year — Minnesota is the first local pro team to make the playoffs in its first season — has been exciting, Montgomery said. “This has been a big organizing year. The [NWHL] is fairly new, and it’s cool to be a part of things. It’s been good.

“It’s a learning curve from the start, establishing the first season and continuing to grow,” the Duluth native said, adding that, more importantly, she has been able to apply her classroom experience to real life.

“There is so much room for growth in everything you do. This is what I was looking for in an internship,” Montgomery added.   

Minnesota last week set a league record for the fastest sellout in history, selling all 1,200 available tickets in 25 hours for its first-ever playoff game. The previous record was set a year ago when the Isobel Cup Final in New Jersey was sold out in 48 hours. This kept alive the Whitecaps’ sellout streak for all its nine games in their inaugural NWHL season. 

With the season now nearing its close and graduation on the horizon, Montgomery has her sights on her post-college career. “I have been applying for jobs in Dallas. That’s where I want to move and to live. I want to be out of the cold,” she notes. 

“I’d hope eventually to be established as a community relations director. It doesn’t necessarily have to work around sports.”

She is keenly aware that as a young Black woman she is trying to navigate through a field that desperately needs diversity. “I certainly hope that there is more diversity in the future,” she said. “It’s really important to me.”