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Krysti Clarke could be a game-changing hire for the Toronto Six

Bringing with her a wealth of experience in professional sports, business management and leadership, letting Krysti Clarke take the reins might be exactly what this young franchise needs

Toronto Six bench during the National Anthem in a game in Lake Placid, NY.
Michelle Jay

The Toronto Six have hired Krysti Clarke to serve as the second General Manager in team history.

Clarke comes to the Six from the world of professional soccer, having worked for York United FC in the Canadian Premier League since 2018. She is the current Manager of Operations, a role she will retain in addition to her General Manager title with the Six.

“I am excited and honoured to have the opportunity to join this history-making team as the General Manager,” she said. “I bring with me lessons learned from another sport that will help with reimagining our approach to and vision of the game,” said Clarke.

Clarke’s knowledge and expertise should carry over well to the NWHL, where she will manage player activities, team operations, and logistics in addition to game day event management. This will include ticket sales and adding and working with sponsors. Clarke will be reporting to Team President, Digit Murphy.

Toronto’s first GM, Mandy Cronin, was revealed to no longer be with the team in March of 2021 and had been let go in mid-February of this year before the team hit the ice for their first games in Lake Placid. At that time, the responsibilities of acting General Manager, likely would have fallen to Murphy to manage.

Clarke attended Miami University, where she played with the Miami RedHawks women’s soccer team while also majoring in sport studies with a minor in coaching. Clarke also has an MBA from McKendree University in Illinois.

Clarke is a highly qualified hire with business experience and expertise that will be a great asset to the Six, particularly in the coming seasons where the team will be able to bring in gate revenue and more community sponsorships. Her knowledge of the sports industry as a whole gives the Six a new opportunity to implement best industry practices within the organization.

Clarke has been involved in, and largely responsible for industry research, benchmarking, and operational leadership with York United. To put it in non-business major terms, Clarke has made the organizations she has worked with better by comparing and contrasting company practices and performance metrics, with the best practices laid out by other companies and organizations to optimize things like quality of product, cost, and time. As a leader, Clarke is systems focused, looking to see how smaller pieces of an organization come together to create a larger outcome.

For a team as young as the Toronto Six, a General Manager who can come in and implement the best standards and practices from the get-go is a very good thing. The Six would do well to give Clarke a lot of room to work in these first few years of its existence, allowing her to really mold the Six into her team.

Clarke’s hiring made history. She is the first Black person to serve in her role in the NWHL.

“Hockey is an integral part of Canada’s history and culture. I’ve witnessed hockey unite individuals, families and communities, in that beautiful way that sport does, but I never knew how to join in,” she said. “Growing up as a second-generation Canadian in a West Indian household, hockey was not part of my parents’ culture. I didn’t know that hockey could be for me.”

Clarke’s branching out to hockey not only adds to her own portfolio as a sport manager, but is also a step towards hockey becoming a game that is more inclusive and representative of all people. Diversity is always a strength for any organization.

“I am raising the third generation of my family, the second to be born in Canada, and I want things to be different. By taking on this leadership role within the Toronto Six, I hope to show people of all colours and cultures that hockey is for them too,” said Clarke.