By Dan Walton
A young woman from Invermere might one day help aspiring hockey players enter the NHL. And if her career plans pan out, Kelsey Petersen will be the only female NHL agent in Canada.
The 26-year-old Invermere native is finishing up her law degree at the Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law in Kamloops, and recently completed an internship with the Vancouver Canucks, for which she beat out more than 600 other applicants.
Her journey started in the Columbia Valley. Kelsey graduated from David Thompson Secondary School in 2006, and supported her education by working at Copper Point Golf Course and with the Windermere Valley Ski Club. She was first a member of the ski club as a racer before eventually achieving the role of coach.
Once she completes her law degree next spring, Kelsey will pursue her agent certification through the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), which will allow her to facilitate contracts between NHL players and their teams. In order to make those deals however, players first have to sign on as her client. Thats the hard part, she said about attracting clients.
But through her work with a hockey mentoring program in Calgary, Kelsey is able to network with players who show significant potential.
I knew that it probably wasnt something Id be able to do on my own, so thats why I built this mentorship with the agency, she said.
To attract her first clients, Kelsey will have to scout out talented teenagers who stand a good shot at making the NHL. (Aspiring hockey) players only have a few years, from the ages 16 to 20, to move from the KIJHL up to the NHL, she said. They do what they can during those few years to advance, and if I can help them out, we can draft a mutually beneficial agreement.
Last spring, as Kelsey was exploring her options in the world of law, she won a scholarship to attend a conference in Chicago for athletic lawyers.
There were 800 sports lawyers there; it really opened my eyes to what I could do in the field of sports law.
To win the Canucks internship, her impressive experience was complemented by some friends in high places: Kelsey was in close contact with a professor who was on the general council for the Canucks; she networked as a volunteer with the Kelly Hrudey and Friends Charity Golf Tournament here in the valley (where she met Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins, as well as NHL agent Dennis Polonic, who has taken her under his wing); and her uncle is former NHL defenceman Randy Gregg, who won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers.
Sports law and the agency business is really dependant on who you know, Kelsey said. I knew that getting this internship would be huge for getting into this field. But with only two other female agents in the NHL neither based in Canada Kelsey doesnt expect a level playing field. My application package from the NHLPA was listed to a Mr. Kelsey Peterson.
On entering the male-dominated field and swimming against the current, she said, Its definitely a selling point; its something that can make me unique as I market myself to agencies.
To deal with NHL teams, agents must be certified agents through the NHLPA, the players union. Kelsey will be qualified to obtain that certification upon completing her law degree.