Alumna pursues a National Hockey League career rooted in community
October 23, 2023
October 23, 2023
A very involved Bobcat during her undergraduate years, Nieuwendyk served as captain of the Ice Cats, a team dedicated to supporting Quinnipiac’s men's ice hockey program through dance, figure skating and cheer.
“Something that being part of the Ice Cats allowed me to do was to be very involved within the Quinnipiac community,” said Nieuwendyk. “We participated and hosted tons of events on campus, and during these, I realized my love for human interaction and that it was something I wanted to incorporate into my career outside of Quinnipiac.”
As the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team started to gain more recognition, Nieuwendyk traveled to Tampa, Florida during her senior year to cheer for the team as they skated to the 2023 NCAA Men's Frozen Four National Championship.
“Traveling to Tampa was the most surreal feeling,” she said. “I knew that we were a good hockey team, but after the weekend we beat Merrimack and Ohio State, I was on cloud nine. My parents flew out with my sister to come watch the games and it was just high energy and good vibes. I think everyone at Quinnipiac was just happy to make the Frozen Four, and winning was the massive cherry on top. I remember when Jacob Quillan scored that winning goal and everyone around me just started breaking down crying, we were all so excited and it was so special.”
Despite her appreciation for the unique experiences her senior year afforded her, being a part of Ice Cats and attending the NCAA Men's Frozen Four National Championship wasn't Nieuwendyk's first exposure to the world of hockey. Nieuwendyk was born and raised in a hockey family in Dallas, Texas. Her father, Joe Nieuwendyk, was a member of the Canadian National Hockey League (NHL), which prompted her connection to the sport beginning at a young age.
“My dad and I had talked about attending a Frozen Four game ever since I was a first year,” she said. “During his professional hockey career, he never got the opportunity to play in a Frozen Four, so being together at the championship was something super special that we could enjoy together.”
Both her childhood and recent experiences came full circle for her as she acquired a position as a foundation assistant for the Dallas Stars Foundation in her hometown of Dallas, Texas.
“I was searching for something in hockey, and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to pursue the public relations route or the nonprofit route,” she said.” I have always been interested in event planning and working with people since I’m all about face-to-face interactions and enjoy a human connection. So, when I was applying for the position of communications assistant with the Dallas Stars, the hiring manager actually recommended me for this position instead.”
After going through a two-month, multilayered interview process, Nieuwendyk received the news that she was selected for the position within the Dallas Stars Foundation.
“The Dallas Stars Foundation is the nonprofit side of the NHL,” explained Nieuwendyk. "The foundation helps charities by creating unique programming that truly helps those in need. For example, on my first day on the job, I participated in a hunger drive where we got to make meal packages for a local Texas food bank."
"Growing up very religious, I truly believe that this is what I am supposed to be doing, helping out others and leaving a lasting impact on my community," she said.
During her high school and college careers, Nieuwendyk always volunteered, but she never got to spend a lot of time connecting with the people she was helping, she said.
Now, in her current position, she is able to work very closely with all those she is helping every day, adding to her appreciation for her own life.
“I love every aspect of my job,” said Nieuwendyk.
“I think that it is so important to be able to wake up every day and help others. Not only does the foundation host events, but we also work with schools in the area to create programs that get kids excited about reading and learning. We also have built playgrounds and houses, volunteered at local food banks and worked to preserve nature in the area. In addition to this, I got involved with the Dallas Stars Alumni Association, so I also get to help the alumni, which includes my father and people who I’ve grown up with," she said.
Nieuwendyk attributes a large part of her success in her current position to her undergraduate years at Quinnipiac — in particular, her position within the Ice Cats.
“Being captain of the Ice Cats allowed me to apply the skills that I was learning in my classes to a team which I believe really prepared me for my career,” she said. “I had to use my voice when I was a captain to guide and be a leader. Now I’m a part of such a big team, where I work with others every single day to help the greater good, so being captain of the Ice Cats definitely prepared me for this role in more ways than one.”
Nieuwendyk also shared her appreciation for the professors she crossed paths with during her time at Quinnipiac.
“Quinnipiac was the perfect college for me,” she said. “Everyone feels lost at some point when trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, but Quinnipiac let me explore my interests, which truly landed me in my current position. Some professors that I would like to highlight at Quinnipiac include Dr. Burns, Dr. Place, Professor Obston and Professor Vanc. These four professors have truly shaped me into the person that I am today, all for completely different reasons, and I am beyond grateful for that.”
Nieuwendyk encourages all those looking to pursue a future career in professional sports to be persistent and dedicated.
“Getting a job in professional sports can be very tough,” she said. “It’s a long process and you must be incredibly dedicated. If you want it, you truly need to go for it. I suggest reaching out to all your connections, following people on LinkedIn and connecting with people through email or social media. I think that doing whatever you need to do to secure an interview is worth it because, at the end of the day, you are the only person who can get yourself there.”
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