March 04, 2020
Ron Cain and Brad Church are no longer in the business of professional hockey. But both are well aware of the ups and downs that come with professional sports.
Cain was the majority owner of the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates team from 2014 to 2016.
Church was the seventeenth pick overall in the 1995 National Hockey League draft and a member of the Portland Pirates’ Hall of Fame.
Both of them recently spoke to students in Aimee Vlachos’ Sports Governance class.
“We talk a lot about contracts, collective bargaining agreements, team relocation, recruiting, and the draft,” said Vlachos, Ed.D., assistant lecturer in the Sport Management and Recreation program. “I wanted to have two people come in that actually had real life experience with these issues, outside of what is in the textbook.”
Church spoke to students about being an assistant coach after his playing days and the tough role of being a buffer between the players and the head coach. Not long after assuming that position, he was promoted to the head coaching job for the East Coast Hockey League’s Phoenix Roadrunners.
“The coaching piece is just a small part of your job,” he told the students. “You have to recruit your team, take care of travel arrangements, keep an eye on the salary cap, and deal with the collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Hockey Player’s Association. So, there are a lot of different logistics off the ice.”
The students questioned Cain about what it takes to get one's foot in the door of a professional sports organization.
“Build your network,” he told them. “Get out and do some internships. Get into the marketing, ticket sales, or the operating side of it. Anything to get it on your resume.”
Cain decided to retire a few years ago, but life on the sidelines did not last long. He now runs several successful businesses, including Legacy Global Sports (LGS), a premier youth sports event and management company. LGS is the team behind some of the world’s most successful youth sports programs and events.
Cain told the students he is always looking for people who show they have leadership skills.
“I told them to focus on the life skills that they are going to get going through college,” he explained. “As athletes, many of them have already accumulated relationship skills and team building. All of those things are going to translate into success in business. I would also tell them, ‘finish your education and get your degree.’”
Cain’s son Cam graduated from UNE in 2011 with a degree in Sport Management. He also played on the UNE hockey team.
“The coach recruited him to come here, and he loved it,” Cain stated. “He loved the student body and loved the university. I think it was a great experience for him. Coming here to speak to this class today was a way for me to give back a little bit for what UNE gave him.”