A Nationals Heartbreak

It’s heartbreaking to watch anything you once loved so much disappear. Whether it is a relationship, a friendship, a tradition or even a job it hurts to see it fall apart; disintegrating into the past and taking with it all of the memories and the good times that once accompanied it.

2018-02-20 12.29.43-1Currently, it is my job with the Cornwall Nationals that has quickly unraveled before my eyes. As the marketing team, my colleague Kris and I put everything we had into making sure everyone in our small city knew who the team was and according to people’s words we were successful. Our heart and souls were poured into this team but unfortunately, at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough.

In December 2016, during its inaugural season, Kris and I unveiled a plan to make sure this new pro hockey team in town would get noticed. We rounded up the few guys that actually lived here last season almost daily and visited schools, fundraisers, community events and everything in between. Soon, Cornwall noticed and soon we would be known as an organization that gives back to our community.

Proudly we raised money and awareness for charities and organizations and we used our influence in the community to do good. Giving back is always an amazing feeling and here we were, able to do it on a daily basis. Making kids and adults alike smile from ear-to-ear when they met their favourite players, bringing awareness to environmental issues through our Recycling Initiative and cleaning up Cornwall though the Adopt-a-Street program this summer, where we would regularly head down to Lamoureux Park and pick up littler along the shoreline.

It was fulfilling work… until it wasn’t. This second season has been one full of the most heartbreak. One in which our hands were tied from almost the beginning. One in which the job we both loved so much became impossible to do because of lack of resources and lack of basic commitment from both the players and ownership.

We were excited at the beginning of this season as most of the players would be living right here in town. We spent hours planning school visits and community events for the boys to participate in and figured that it would be as easy as it was during the first season. It wasn’t. Many of the players flat our refused to help with promos (which they coined as volunteering—as though it’s a bad thing?) and it was always extremely hard to find willing guys to commit. Yes, some did graciously and we are grateful for them.

The players were never held accountable by those in charge for missing promos and as they began to get more and more frustrated with ownership that sentiment trickled down to us, the marketing team, whose main goal it was to get the players to be involved in their community.

So, our hands were tied. Again. We were as resourceful as we could be without an actual budget to work with and we tried our hardest to make it work. That’s when heartbreak began to set in. People were depending on us to market the team properly but it wasn’t working and people weren’t coming to our games. We had a first place (now second place) product that was amazing on the ice but no one but a handful of loyal fans cared to come support.

Yes, it’s heartbreaking. To watch something you so passionately worked on break apart at the knees. To see it slip through your fingers like sand, unable to grasp it or change the outcome. The most heartbreaking thing is the people that don’t know that Kris and I have been working for free for 11 weeks. That we stopped getting paid long before the players did but continued to soldier on, hoping that the outcome might change. We were still very committed to giving back to our community, even if it meant that just the two of us would show up at fundraisers and cover for why the players weren’t there as well.

The stakes are high for us as we look towards the future and building our new business FanSaves, which came about as we were selling sponsorships for the Nationals this summer. We are optimistic that everything happens for a reason and ideally would have liked for the Nationals to succeed and finish this season but the show must go on for us.

So through heartbreak we’ll forge a new passion, one that will allow us to grow ourselves and our company to new heights and with which we can give back to our community on an even bigger scale. We are committed to turning this heartbreak into a newfound drive; taking the good times with us and the change we have made in our little corner of the world out into the vastness that awaits. A blank slate ready for new beginnings is on the horizon and we’re ready to turn this heartbreak around.

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