Recently I sent out inquiries to a few different people or teams to participate in the 12 questions segment and this was one I really hoped would work out and it did. His name is one you may not know but you should. He is Jason Shaya and as you can see below, he is a busy guy. You can also find him interviewing Head Coach, General Manager and recently promoted Vice President Derek Wilkinson on video on their website http://www.gocheckers.com/. For the record, this team has made the playoffs 11 times in 15 years and you can find season tickets as low as $396 and single game deals as well with great promotions often. If you looking to attend a game, the season will start soon. The season opener will be on the road at Florida on October 17 with the home opener scheduled for Halloween night October 31 at 8pm against Augusta. Check out Jason's comments and I think you will gain more respect for this team and what they are doing in this community. I love hockey and I have to admit, when I attended a game last season, I had a great time and wished I could attend more often myself (working nights and occasional weekends doesn't help with sports life). So without further ado, here is Jason Shaya and "12 Reasons Why.....You Should Support The Charlotte Checkers."
12 Reasons Why.....You Should Support The Charlotte Checkers
1. Who is Jason Shaya and what is your exactly job title/position?
I am the director of media relations and broadcasting for the Charlotte Checkers. My job is to garner local coverage for the team through our media outlets along with calling all regular season and home games on the radio and internet. Basically, I get paid to talk about hockey…it’s a tough life.
2. What is your background(schooling, previous experience, etc.) and how did you get started with the Charlotte Checkers?
I started my professional broadcasting career with the now defunct World Championship Wrestling. I moved on to become a television sports producer then began doing play-by-play professionally for hockey and lacrosse. The Checkers heard my demo material and saw my resume and immediately fell in love with me. I can’t really blame them.
3. What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar career path? Anything they should consider doing or jobs to take that may help their chances?
My best advice is for kids to finish college! There isn’t anything more important than an education. If you want to work in this business you need to sacrifice everything. You might have to move half way (or all the way) across the country. The pay stinks and the hours are lousy. Now that I think of it, I am not sure why I do this…oh wait, I just re-read my answer to question number one.
4. What has been the highlight of your career with the Checkers? What do you hope to see them accomplish most with this franchise while you are employed there?
The highlight of my career was calling a home game with over 12,000 fans in attendance at Time Warner Cable Arena. Last season, I also became the first ever broadcaster to do the play-by-play from between the team benches at ice level. I didn’t think it was such a fun idea when I was nearly hit with a puck.
5. Can you walk us through a busy day at work for you so people can see a sample of what it's like? What are you favorite and least favorite parts of the job?
During the season, my number one job is to talk to media about covering games and doing feature stories on our players and team. I prepare all the game notes and make sure everything is up-to-date. I get to the arena about five hours before and prepare all my radio equipment and do interviews. It’s the most fun you can have without actually playing the game.
6. Could you please explain to fans who may not be familiar with the Charlotte Checkers( which you can learn more about at http://www.gocheckers.com/), some history and current information on this organization?
The team is now in its 16th season but, the Checkers have been apart of the city since the 1950’s. Although ice hockey isn’t as popular here in the South as it is in other parts of the country, the interest grows every year. When someone comes to a game for the first time and gets a first-hand look at what hockey is really all about, they always come back for more. Goals, fights, hits, speed…and that’s just in thirty seconds some nights!
7. Recently the Charlotte Checkers agreed to a deal with Charlotte sports station WFNZ (http://www.wfnz.com/) to air games on their radio network. Can you give us some highlights of the deal and what we can look forward to with this new arrangement? Any chance we could see a television deal in the works one day as well.
The deal with WFNZ is a great thing for the organization. WFNZ is the premier sports radio network for the city and we are proud to be affiliated with them. Our fans can hear most of our road games and some home games during the season on the radio. Every single game is always available by logging onto http://www.gocheckers.com/. The television question is an interesting one. We feel that we have pretty much all the pieces in place to make that work. Now, it’s just about working out the details with a provider. I would say that this season could very well bring television games and it would get bigger with each season.
8. Last year I attended a Checkers game for the first time and I loved it but I am a hockey fan. What do you think are major factors that help bring fans to a game and what would you say to those who may not have experienced a game before, or maybe even hockey in general?
Hundreds of thousands of fans gravitate towards Checkers games because they are fun and affordable. Even if you are aren’t a traditional hockey fan, it doesn’t take long to gain interest once you sit down and watch the game unfold for a matter of minutes.
9. On a similar note, Charlotte and North Carolina in general are warm climates not necessarily known for hockey but do you think that perception could change in time and grow with the Checkers and the Carolina Hurricanes right down the road as well? Could this lead to seeing more skating rinks in the area and maybe more youth development in the near future?
More rinks in the area would be tremendous and I think it’s about time someone else put a few more sheets down! I am at the local rinks every week and they are packed with people every single time I walk in…I used to think they were just waiting to see me, but now I realize that hockey is just really popular J Hockey will continue to grow faster and faster and as soon as someone recognizes the dire need for another arena, the city will be better off for it.
10. Recently the Charlotte Checkers worked alongside Habit For Humanity to build a new home. Could you talk about the experience and also what other charities the Checkers are active with regularly or any planned events?
The Habitat for Humanity home building was a great experience for the front office staff because we got to get our hands dirty and help in the building process. I believe the wheels are in motion to building another Habitat home. The Checkers have given back over $800,000 in the past two seasons to local charities through our ticket fundraising programs and donations from fans. For more information on how to work with the Checkers to help non-profit charitable foundations, please visit our website at http://www.gocheckers.com/ . The Checkers also have their own charity called CheckMates Charities which helps raise money each season.
11. What do you think is in your mind the worst naive statements of the average person about playing at the level of hockey(ECHL) that the Charlotte Checkers play? Does it upset you when it's referred to as minor league or when people say the talent is overpaid and what would you like to tell people with those beliefs?
There is no anger in being referred to as a “minor league” team. That’s what we are! There must be feeder systems to the National Hockey League and we play that role. Not every hockey player has the gifts necessary to jump right into the NHL after being drafted. Some of those players go to the American Hockey League (which is the AAA level). Other players are sent to the ECHL (AA level). Many former Charlotte Checkers are playing in the NHL and it’s great to hear from fans who can say “I saw that guy when he was just starting!” We are a minor league team with a major league mindset. Everything from our arena, number of fans and the money we raise each season is very “major league.”
12. Your Free Space- This is your chance to say anything, promote anything you wish to, or just plain vent about anything not previously covered but just one rule, keep it clean.
I hope that if people in Charlotte haven’t given the Checkers a chance yet, they will come out to the games at Time Warner Cable Arena. If they can’t make it to the game, check out the broadcasts this season on WFNZ and http://www.gocheckers.com/ . Hope this wasn’t too boring!!
Thank you Jason and hey, how can you not like a guy who got his start in wrestling and works for a hockey team? You were not boring and in fact very informative and I hope especially those in the Charlotte area check them out and those who are Rangers fans especially, check out the guys who could be on your roster one day soon. I think Jason provided very informative responses and at times, entertaining as well and I for one wish as well we had more resources in this area to support youth hockey whether it's through the schools or leagues to help boost the younger generations interest in the sport. We may have a warm climate here but street hockey is just as fun as well and rinks can be fun to hang out in to get away from the heat as well. Check out the team and their website and hey, Checkmates auditions are on August 31st as well so for those of you guys who love to see the ladies, I assure you that you will not be disappointed if the past is any indication. Remember skip the trick or treating Halloween night and support the Charlotte Checkers at 8pm at Time Warner Arena(formerly the Charlotte Bobcats Arena) and show them some love as they do within our community and I bet you walk away a fan.