On frozen ponds or in heated arenas, Canadians love their hockey. Dale Ptycia (BASc '85) also has a passion for the game, but he took it one step farther, turning it into a career as senior manager of licensing and merchandising for Hockey Canada (HC).
Ptycia's love of the game started in Lethbridge where he grew up playing minor hockey. While he admits he loved playing hockey, it never got in the way of his education.
"My dad quit school in Grade 9 to work on the family farm, so my parents always taught us how lucky we were that we had a chance to complete high school," remembers Ptycia.
Within two years of graduating from Catholic Central High School in 1976, Ptycia apprenticed as a carpenter, attended the University of Lethbridge part time and married his high school sweetheart.
"With the economic downturn, I decided it would be a good idea to pursue a post-secondary education to follow a new career path," says Ptycia. "I enrolled at the U of L as a mature student in 1980."
In his second year, Ptycia focused on physical education classes and entered the Faculty of Education, but by his third year, he decided not to become a teacher. His passion lay in the administrative and coaching side of sport. In his last two years at the University, he participated as a student representative with the Salary, Tenure and Promotion Committee, and the General Facilities Planning Committee for the Department of Physical Education.
"That experience was great. It gave me a lot of insight into administration, with respect to strategic planning, and has led me to some of the components that I now exercise with HC," says Ptycia. "I am in awe of the knowledge and expertise of the professors and faculty at the U of L and how the information they imparted helps me in my day-to-day responsibilities."
After graduation in 1985, Ptycia worked as the administrator for Lethbridge Hire-a-Student, before moving to Calgary in 1987 to become a program coordinator at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Calgary, however, was not to become his new home.
"David McDowell, the University of Lethbridge's first hockey coach and a former instructor of mine, led me to my present career with HC. He put me in touch with people in Ottawa, and I was fortunate to be offered a job there in 1988 with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, now recognized as HC," says Ptycia.
Over the years, Ptycia's job evolved from program manager to senior manager of licensing and merchandising. In charge of creating revenue streams for HC, Ptycia sets up licensing contracts that allow companies access to intellectual property and trademark designs. Royalties generated from merchandise support grassroots hockey programs across the country. He is grateful to be a part of an organization that gives to so many people.
"I see myself as coming full circle, working in the field of hockey as a result of my academic career and then giving back to the community whether by volunteering as a hockey coach, mentoring interns or donating to the U of L," says Ptycia.
Recently, Ptycia and other alumni gathered with U of L President, Dr. Bill Cade, and MP Rick Casson in Ottawa.
"It was a great opportunity to gather as alumni and talk about some of the opportunities that lay ahead for the University and to learn about the incredible growth and evolution of the campus," says Ptycia. "It is a priority for my family to give back to the University that gave me the ability to work in a field that I have such a passion for."