Vodkow a été conçu pour cela : Tyron Vrede

Dutch-born linebacker Tyron Vrede was dealt an unenviable hand this season, spending the vast majority of the time on the injured list, suffering a pretty gnarly upper-body ailment.

In many cases, players with long-term injuries might head home for rehab, but Vrede stuck around in Ottawa, and rather quickly into the process, decided he wanted to take full advantage, looking to gain some experience on the business side of sport.

He got a gig as a marketing intern with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, with the goal of giving himself a leg up when he eventually plots a path post-football.

“It didn’t come in the best circumstances, but I want to make the most of my time,” Vrede said. “I wanted to think about life after football a little bit, I don’t have much corporate experience under my belt, and I thought this was a great opportunity to get a head start, and keep my mind off the injury.”

Despite being an intern, Vrede has been handed some sizeable tasks, both for the REDBLACKS, and the Ottawa 67’s.

“I’m doing a lot of work for the 67’s right now, but also looking at some of the things we can improve on for the REDBLACKS’ game-day experience,” Vrede said. “Whether that’s fan engagement, how we can get more people in the seats, or how we can get returning customers.”

The hockey side of the business is something completely brand new for Vrede. When talking about the REDBLACKS, he feels confident knowing that he’s speaking about something he has known his whole life, but when it comes to putting a product on ice, it wasn’t as easy.

Growing up in the Netherlands, his first introduction to hockey didn’t come until he got to the University of North Dakota, and it only happened because the team was among the best in the country. Even still, his knowledge of the game wasn’t expansive, forcing him into a quick learning curve after taking the role.

“I leaned on the people I work with,” Vrede said. “I asked a lot of questions, and did a lot of research myself.”

It was the people around him that played the biggest role in bringing Vrede up to speed, and helped him find his footing in an otherwise alien role.

“Some of the people I already knew from working with them as a player, and they have been really good welcoming me like any other employee,” Vrede said.

Majoring in Management at university, Vrede has the tools to do the job, but actually doing it has been an eye-opener. In many ways, he says it’s not too dissimilar from being on the football field – minus the physicality.

“It’s like how football players have to adjust, whether you miss a tackle or drop a pass, you have to put it behind you and move to the next play,” Vrede said. “They do such a great job of that on the other side of things.”

This is far from the end of Vrede’s football story, but the head start on his next chapter leaves him with a fall-back plan, in the event his career is cut short for any reason.

“I hope to play football for as long as I can, but after I’m done, this is something I’m definitely going to look into,” he said.