Monthly Archives: April 2013

Being a Wrangler with Sean Wiles

Being a Wrangler with Sean Wiles

While visiting the Las Vegas Wranglers, Craig Tonks had the chance to take a closer look at what it takes to be a player in the ECHL chatting to Sean Wiles.

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Being part of the Las Vegas Wranglers is not only about being a professional hockey player. The Wranglers are a team that not only reaches out the community but openly embraces it, which is something the players and their parents are very proud of.

Wranglers right wing Sean Wiles who hails from Beloit, Wisconsin believes it’s an important part of being a Wrangler, “We get to raise money for things we care about and we are always out in the community. We do regular school visits and do events with our booster club and it’s something we enjoy”.

On the 2nd March the Wranglers raised funds for a local hospital by conducting a head shave. Players and fans gathered at the end of the game to shave long locks raising over $20,000 in the process. Wiles adds, “I needed a haircut about three months ago but grew my hair over three months so I had good locks to get cut”.

It says a lot about the event when young fans have grown their hair for 12 months just to get their heads shaved sitting right next to their idols.

It’s a credit to the marketing team behind the Wranglers that they can engage the community so effectively. From the Midnight Round-up, Topless Hockey to the Indoor Winter Classic that poked fun at the NHL’s cancellation of the Outdoor Winter Classic, Media and Public Relations Manager, Rachel White explains further, “We have a lot more leverage to do things that the bigger clubs can’t do”. We can only hope that Regrettable Tattoo night catches on.”

Wiles agrees with White, “It’s great playing for a club with good marketing, it’s always spicy and fun around here. Those nights are fun for us players and since we play a lot of games during the season, it keeps it fun”.

In attendance for this game was the parents of Sean Wiles, Mike & Theresa Wiles who made the trip from Wisconsin. Mike & Theresa have made the trip to watch three games this year and are impressed by the Wranglers and how they are much more than just a hockey team.

Mike Wiles states, “The Wranglers organisation itself has to compete with the casinos and we have been to three games this season and have seen that the crowds are great and really get behind the team. It says a lot about the club that even though these kids come from all over North America you see them out there being apart of the community”.

As with many players who come down to Australia to play in the AIHL over the North American summer, the tyranny of distance has been made easier for Mike and Theresa. “My wife watches every game and it’s been a true blessing being able to see Sean full fill his dream. It’s been great to watch him play hockey beyond the level of what most players get to do”.

Theresa Wiles says the club do amazing work, “These boys get out in the community and really do make themselves visible and I have been able to see that first hand. It makes you proud as a hockey parent seeing this. I have watching Sean play since he was 4. I have seen him progress from the days where we never had a working garage door or grass in the back yard but that’s the life of a hockey parent”.

Hard work has paid off for Sean Wiles with a call up to the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers which will be his first call up of his professional career. We wish Sean well with his call up to the AHL.

by Craig Tonks

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Wrangling Success

 

Wrangling Success

 

Recently HSN reporter Craig Tonks visited North America and took a look at the way they do hockey.  It was in Las Vegas where Craig noticed some interesting ideas that would translate to the Australian version.

 

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The first thing that you notice when you enter the Orleans Casino when the Las Vegas Wranglers are playing at home is the amount of hockey jerseys.

Can Australian clubs learn and take value with what the Las Vegas Wranglers do to keep people coming through the gates in a city not usually known for its hockey team?

It could be small things the Wranglers do like changing from the practice goals to newly painted red pipes with crisp white nets.

The audio and visual displays leading into the game builds the atmosphere. A mixture of great music and video of past great moments and big hits gets the fans in the arena a taste of what’s to come. As the Elvis song says, “A little less conversation, a little more action please”.

The connection to the community the Wranglers have built is something that you feel as soon as you enter the arena. The Wranglers offer exposure to local community groups by having them set up stalls inside the arena.

Schools also benefit from the Community Puck Toss. In a fun way to raise money fans can buy one puck for $2 or six pucks for $10. Each one is numbered and thrown onto the ice at the last break. Closest to the centre ice wins.

The Community Puck Toss not only generates funds for the school is has the potential to draw new fans from the schools and even better, new young players taking up the sport.

Making money isn’t merely about big sponsorship. The Wranglers offer sponsorships for in game  moments like “Icings” and “Powerplays”.

When a goal is scored and the fog horn sounds, “Viva Las Vegas” plays for the celebration. A song which so identifiable to the town and fun to sing along to. The goal also delivers prizes for sections of seating.

Australian ice hockey fan’s use of Livestream to broadcast matches means rinks will have video cameras in the crowd. The Wranglers have used this well with segments titled, “Hands up in the Air” which is a chance for kids in the crowd to dance with their hands up in the air to the song of the same name.

The “Swagger Cam” and a crowd sing-a-long to a song of the fans choice provides opportunities for the crowd to feel included in the fun.

The Wranglers have many things in common with the Australian Ice Hockey League but the main obvious one is fans who love the sport. The Las Vegas Wranglers have gone to great lengths to provide a positive feeling and entertainment off the ice. Fans walk away knowing as a family they had a great time.

In part two we look at how the players and their families feel about their experiences at being part of the Wrangler family.

by Craig Tonks