Beyond the boards

They dont just face-off on the ice, they face-off in the real world too.

Castleton University hockey players Ryan Mulder, Ryan O’Malley, and Corbin Marcotte are spending their time these days learning the ins and outs of the business world as it relates to their passion – hockey.

The men have been interning at Neutral Zone LLC, which is a hockey scouting and news website that ranks and profiles prospective college and professional hockey players. The business is based out of Rutland and the information that is gathered is then given to coaches to help them with recruitment decisions.

“I noticed an email for possible internships in the Rutland area and immediately knew this was something I would be interested in,” said Mulder. He then discussed it with teammates O’Malley and Marcotte. Together they met with the director of scouting, Brendan Collins.

Collins oversees their work. He believes in not just giving them busy work, but to actually give them hands-on experience.

“What makes this internship what it is, is the fact that it’s a brand new company and we are learning as we go,” said Collins.

The tasks vary on a daily basis but include data entry, marketing, scheduling, business organization, and website maintenance and design.

“The hardest part is actually finding time to get the work done,” said Marcotte. O’Malley agreed and added, “It’s tough with our schedules, but thinking of where this internship could take me keeps me motivated and finding time to work.”

Time is of the essence as they juggle academics and athletics as well as their internship. Collins was a college hockey player himself, so he understands what it’s like to be a student athlete.

“From the beginning, Brendan has been tremendously understanding of our busy schedules and never put any pressure on us in the way of deadlines. What motivates us to use our spare time for this job is that it is something we enjoy doing,” Mulder said.

All three men said that their favorite part of the internship was the scouting portion. Mulder likes it because he gets to use his knowledge of the sport to analyze players’ strengths and weaknesses. Marcotte enjoys it because it’s entertaining for him and O’Malley said it’s something he has wanted to do for a long time.

“Now that I’m involved, I couldn’t be happier. It’s also nice giving back to the hockey community and helping players realize their potential,” said O’Malley

Neutral Zone started in the fall of 2015, so the company is still in the learning process. So far the company has had interns from the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, women’s lacrosse and field hockey.

Collins shared that after starting the business, they quickly realized they need to expand to women’s hockey as well. They had Jess Cameron, goalie for the Spartans, as another intern.

Collins and Cameron actually go back to Cameron’s freshman year when Collins was her assistant coach.

After looking for someone to fill the role as director of women’s hockey in the U.S. and Canada, they offered a full-time position to Cameron.

“After months of impressing us with her work, we sat down with pitched the idea to her,” said Collins.

Cameron’s role after graduation will be to build a scouting staff and cover all women’s hockey in the U.S. and Canada.

“I was really excited when Brendan asked me to be the director. I really appreciate how little pressure he puts on me and how willing he was to teach me,” said Cameron.

There’s a mutual agreement among the four Castleton University student athletes about how much Neutral Zone has helped them become more involved with hockey. They understand the rules of play, but now understand the business side.

“I chose this internship because I have a passion for hockey and it relates to my major of study. I really enjoy the business side of the sport so this internship is a great fit,” Marcotte said.

It all goes back to forming relationships with Castleton University and the town of Rutland.

“I can’t begin to explain how important that partnership is to our business model and having a group of young, emerging professionals who bring fresh, innovative ideas to our company,” Collins said.

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