Graphic & Interactive Design Major Works for National Women’s Hockey League in Senior Year

Self-described “jersey nerd” Brendan Poe had a great time working on the jersey unveiling event for the newest addition to the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), the Toronto Six. 

“It was June - the height of COVID - so we had to do an online event,” he says. The team was so new the players didn’t even have their jerseys yet. So Brendan asked team members to send him photos of themselves and used Photoshop to “create” photos of players wearing all three of the approved jersey designs. (See Brendan's design above.) The photo mock-ups worked, the unveiling was a success, and Brendan had a concrete example of his creative problem-solving skills to add to his resume.

At the time of the jersey unveiling event in June 2020, Brendan was on summer break from studying graphic and interactive design at Seton Hill. A contact who had seen his art online reached out to let him know that the Toronto Six needed some design help. 

“When I first began working with Toronto’s NWHL team,” says Nick Putigna, NWHL social media manager, “I was tasked with finding a graphic designer that could reach that professional standard. I knew Brendan through a friend and had been following his socials for a while so I was no stranger to his excellent work. I didn’t even have to think twice on who I should reach out to first.”

Brendan volunteered to help for the summer. When fall came, and he had to go back to school, the work kept rolling in. So he moved from being a volunteer to an intern with the Six, and then a paid contractor with the league itself. Due to the pandemic, and geography - Brendan lives in Pennsylvania, the League office is in New York, and the Toronto Six are (wait for it) based in Ontario - Brendan only interacted with his new colleagues online. By November, he’d become such a part of the NWHL creative team that he got invited to help out during the two-week “mini-season” in January 2021 in Lake Placid, N.Y. 

“Brendan is first class in not only his work and what he’s done with the league thus far but as a colleague and friend,” Nick says. “You will not find a more committed, down-to-earth, and professional designer than him.”

“I did whatever they needed,” Brendan says. “Often I’d be taking photos at games and then immediately getting them ready and sending them to the social media manager to be posted.”

"Brendan is first class... You will not find a more committed, down-to-earth, and professional designer than him." 

He often leaned on skills developed at Seton Hill, he says, but one in particular - a working knowledge of animation - really came in handy. The league needed animated scoreboard graphics to celebrate goals, and Brendan created them. 

“When someone scored,” Brendan says, “their team logo would come up on the scoreboard, transform into their number, and then their headshot with their name and hometown under that.”

Even though the NWHL “mini-season” took place in a restricted access “bubble,” it had to be cut short before the playoffs due to COVID. The League rescheduled their final few games for March 26 - 27, 2021. Twitch TV broadcast the regular season; the playoffs were broadcast live on Twitch and also on NBCSN. (This was the first time a women’s professional league hockey championship game aired on a major national network in the U.S.)

As a hockey fan and someone preparing for a career in sports design, the NWHL experience was “a dream job for me,” Brendan says.

Now a Seton Hill senior, Brendan is finishing up classes, creating content for Jersey Nerds podcasts, and looking forward to entering the career market. He chose Seton Hill because “scholarships meant it didn’t look like it was going to be too expensive, it was close to home, and the strong graphic design program.” After spending time on the Hill, he grew to enjoy the “really nice community aspect. I made a lot of friends here.” Still, he’s ready to move forward.

“I feel prepared,” he says. “I feel like I can do a little bit of everything.”