CWHLPA announces new partnership and player branding initiative

Personal branding and growth at the forefront of PA’s new partnership.

On Feb. 22, the CWHL Players’ Association unveiled a new look and a new initiative. Effective immediately, the PA is partnering with creative firm Sports Marketing Allstars.

According to the press release, “This partnership will give visibility to the CWHLPA, as well as offer ALL players of the CWHL a unique opportunity to grow their public image and small businesses.”

In other words, they’re going to help players with those two magic words: personal branding.

CWHLPA co-chair Liz Knox gave The Ice Garden an inside look at how the partnership started.

“I met Steve [Conforti], who’s the owner of Sports Marketing Allstars. I met him, actually, at a charity hockey game that the Markham Thunder do every year; it’s called the Face Off To Fight Cancer. And just in conversations after the game, I told him I was with the PA, and I knew he was in sports marketing and he said there’s a real opportunity there for somebody to step in and help the players brand themselves.

“And then this year he was like, ‘Hey, let’s make this work.’ So we’ve been talking since probably September, and it just kind of snowballed in the new year. It just happened really quickly.”

According to Knox, Conforti’s firm will offer CWHL players their branding and marketing services at a discounted rate designed to work within their needs and their budgets:

“A simple package, let’s say, might include a logo and a web development,” explained Knox. “Laura Stacey ran a charity ball hockey tournament this summer, and he actually put that on for her. So he did her logo, her web, her event coordination, apparel. So he kind of handled everything so that she could just focus on the tournament.”

Currently there’s no term limit for the deal in place. “He [Conforti] is in it for the long haul,” said Knox.

The partnership also aims to help players look beyond their playing careers. While their male counterparts in the NHL have an alumni association, CWHL players don’t have an equivalent to help ease the transition into post-hockey life. The current financial realities for women’s hockey are austere; foresight is critical for a more secure future, something the CWHLPA understands and seeks to provide.

“To give players ... an opportunity to grow a brand while they’re playing, and then continue that brand post-hockey ... that’s the ideal. If you can grow it while you’re playing and kind of get that reputation, and then, once you’re done with your professional playing career, you have a business to fall on,” said Knox.

She added, “People don’t understand how incredibly busy our lives are. And I’m great at [Microsoft] Paint. I’m not a Photoshop person. For me to create a logo, let’s say, or to brand myself, I don’t know the first thing about that. To have an expert in the field come in and just be like, ‘Hey, I got this for you,’ it’s awesome.”