If you are looking for a well-rounded internship with a professional ice hockey team, look no further than the Syracuse Crunch Hockey Club (AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning). Interns really can do it all with the Syracuse Crunch, as was the case for Public Relations Intern Jennifer Greene on a Monday in the beginning of April. Greene, a Syracuse University senior, majoring in Public Relations and Communications, became the first female on the ice with the AHL team.
Greene, a goaltender for the Syracuse University’s Women’s Ice Hockey Club Team, signed an amateur tryout contract in order to practice one morning with the team.
She is actually the third female in the history of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization to take part with the boys. The first was Manon Rheaume, another goaltender, who became the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues when she appeared for a period in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues. U.S.A. Hockey Defenseman Anne Schleper skated with the Lightning in October 2014 after team won the Silver Medal in Sochi.
When the opportunity arose for Greene to take part in a practice with the team she was up for the challenge. “I accompanied Jim (Sarosy, Chief Operating Officer for the Syracuse Crunch) to the coaches office one day and Rob Zettler, the team’s Head Coach, asked me when I was going to get on the ice with them. I thought it was a joke and laughed it off originally. Then a few weeks later, Zettler brought the idea up again and confirmed that they did in fact want me to take part in a practice”.
Greene’s father traveled to Syracuse, New York from their home in Barre, Vermont in order to take in his daughter practicing with the professional ice hockey team. “We have horses at my house and sometimes its difficult to find people to look after them if we are away. He ended up missing my last regular season home game at Syracuse. My mom came to watch it, but he was kind of bummed that he missed what was probably going to be the last organized game I would play because he had to stay back and take care of the horses. When I found out that I was going to practice with Syracuse Crunch, I told him about it and he wanted to come and watch it even if it was only for 20-25 minutes. It was really great to have him there and everyone was really great with him. Eric Neilson (forward with the Syracuse Crunch) chatted with him for a bit, so he felt pretty special”.
This wasn’t the first experience Greene had playing with the boys. Even though she played on her all female high school team, growing up she attended clinics with mostly boys and also spent several hours having her brother take shots on her. However, practicing with professional male athletes definitely took it to a new level. Going into this practice Greene was very nervous. The members of the Syracuse Crunch seemed to embrace having her there…those that realized she was. “I’m a lot shorter than they all are and had my hair in a braid. Some of them seemed like it was just another day and some seemed surprised. One of the players ripped a shot right at me and I thought to myself, ok he probably doesn’t realize it’s a girl! Some of the players went a little easier on me and there were others that didn’t (laughs)”.
This particular practice took place took place shortly after the Syracuse Crunch clinched their berth into the Calder Cup playoffs. Not only was Greene concerned for her safety, she was mostly concerned that I didn’t injure someone accidentally by having someone trip over her and fall. Fortunately her participation during the practice went smoothly and she has another experience to add to her season spent with the Syracuse Crunch. “I was on the ice with David Alexander (Syracuse Crunch Goaltending Coach) and the other two goalies (Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox) prior to the skaters coming out. It was cool that as they skated on, several of them that I had known off the ice through my Public Relations internship fist-bumped me and said how cool it was that I was out there with them. It was definitely memorable”.