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.
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