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Cahill an important part of Crunch’s off-ice success

Cahill an important part of Crunch’s off-ice success

In honor of Women’s History Month, this week TheAHL.com is featuring a multi-part series spotlighting women across the AHL.

by Patrick Williams

Megan Cahill’s climb through hockey took her away from home before it brought her back again.

And along the way, she saw what makes for a good front office.

The battle for the entertainment dollar has never been tighter, and a franchise must have good people leading the way to find long-term success in that business environment.

Cahill, the vice president of communications and digital media for the Syracuse Crunch, got her start in pro hockey via an internship with the club, took a detour to Springfield, and then came back home as something of a late-season addition to the front office for the Calder Cup Playoffs.

In 2014-15 season, Cahill joined the Springfield Falcons as their communications and community relations manager, spending the year in the AHL’s capital city. But the Crunch had been impressed by her work, and Cahill is from Auburn, N.Y., just a short drive southwest of Syracuse. When a job opened up in the Syracuse front office, the Crunch made their pitch, and she came back home.

Nearly eight years later, Cahill has moved through a variety of internal promotions to become one of the most respected front-office people in the 32-team AHL. Cahill handles all public relations and digital media responsibilities with the club, acts as the team’s local and national media contact, and coordinates with other departments in the Crunch front office to promote the team, one of the league’s senior franchises after being founded in 1994.

Her portfolio also includes digital and social media work for which the team has been recognized several times. The Crunch’s Locker Room Karaoke Battles series won a nod for the league’s most unique social media promotion, and in 2019-20 Cahill headed the AHL’s social media department of the year.

Cahill, who went to Siena College in Albany, N.Y., and was a member of its Division I women’s golf team, earned a degree there in English with minors in business, writing and communication. She added a master’s degree in public relations from Syracuse University’s renowned S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Her internship with the Crunch hooked Cahill. She looked around that Syracuse front office and saw a place where someone could build a career.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day is just another reminder that women play an important role in every sport as fans, athletes, coaches and staff.

We’re proud to work alongside the talented women in our Crunch front office. #NGWSD pic.twitter.com/9JcmQKx2jX

— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) February 1, 2023

“I liked what I was doing, and that was when I decided that I really do want to stay in the AHL,” Cahill said. “I really liked it.”

After her internship, Cahill was in the market for a full-time job in hockey. The Crunch did not have a spot at the time, but the Falcons did. Cahill’s work had made an impression on Howard Dolgon, the Crunch’s owner, chief executive officer and president, and he pitched Springfield president Bruce Landon on his former intern.

“I got lucky,” Cahill said.

Dolgon and the Crunch haven’t succeeded for nearly 30 years in Syracuse by relying on luck. The Crunch’s front office has had great leadership since day one, including senior vice president of business operations Vance Lederman and chief operating officer Jim Sarosy.

“They want the best people, people who are good at their jobs and are going to work as a team to make the Syracuse Crunch successful as a business,” Cahill said.

“There’s only so much we can do on the ice. But we can make sure off the ice that this is a success for everyone.”

Cahill says that being a woman was a non-issue in Syracuse. Andrea Marino, who joined the Crunch full-time in 2014, is also a member of the senior management team as VP of corporate partnerships.

“Andrea and I are both vice presidents at this level and female, and it’s awesome,” Cahill said. “We really are appreciative, and we’re really proud of it, but it’s not, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re females and we’re in this role.’

“We feel like we worked really hard and we’re happy that the organization has thought that we’re deserving of these positions. It’s never really come up. I think we just have people who are good at their jobs and good at those positions and it doesn’t matter what gender they are.”

But Cahill is also well aware of the challenges that women can face as times change. As someone who works daily in the world of social media, she sees it.

How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/JhZVweVgu5

— Megan Cahill (@meganmelinda) January 25, 2021

“I really do feel for other women in the industry who are not getting the respect that they deserve,” Cahill elaborated. “You see that stuff all the time. A woman is reporting on something, and someone sends back a tweet: ‘How can you talk on this? You never played hockey.’

“Well, most people have never played professional hockey. What do you mean I can’t talk on this? It’s upsetting to see people not respect individuals for the job they do. Why does it matter what their gender is?”

Fortunately for Cahill, when she steps outside of social media, she sees a supportive environment in Syracuse.

“The culture of the Crunch is that we are a team. The front office is a team, and the team on the ice is also a team. Everything that we’re doing, we have one goal that we’re working toward, and everyone is pulling their weight and doing their job to reach those goals.”

Any successful team — on or off the ice — has everyone taking a role and executing it, and Cahill has seen that up-close during her time in the AHL.

“They’re there for a reason,” Cahill said. “They’re there because they have their certain strengths, and they’re going to help the team succeed.”

​ Megan Cahill’s climb through hockey took her away from home before it brought her back again. And along the way, she saw what makes for a good front office. TheAHL.com | The American Hockey League 

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