With the last two weeks dedicated to any and all things Red Wings hockey, from the health of Pavel and Hank, to our road game party in Nashville, to preparing for our 20th consecutive postseason, it was nice to have a night off.
Well, sort of.
Instead of enjoying a relaxing night on the couch, I ventured out to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, home of the U.S. National Team Development Program to watch the U.S. and Canada in a women’s Pre-World Championship showdown.
The most asked question we get through DRW Social Media is who in the organization uses Twitter. Currently, none of our active players Tweet, but Darren McCarty and Trevor Thompson of FOX Sports Detroit do. Five of our players have also been worldwide trending topics this season.
If there were an opposite for our club, which showed its lack of Twitter savvy when Trevor had to explain to Darren Helm what a trending topic was, the U.S. Women’s National Team would be it. Not only do its players fit the demographic of the most active users of social media, but Facebook and Twitter have quickly become essential promotional tools for the women’s game and for USA Hockey.
USA Hockey successfully used Facebook for promoting Hockey Weekend Across America earlier this year, including a promotion that encouraged fans to wear their favorite team’s jersey. Last season, the organization placed Flip Cameras in the hands of two of its players, Erika Lawker and Angela Ruggiero, asking them to document their experiences in an Olympic year for corporate sponsor Qwest.
“Social Media is everything, especially in your non-traditional sports, as well as with traditional sports,” Ruggiero said. “It’s the ability for fans to connect with players and the athletes. And for me, it’s the best way to connect with people. To let them know what I’m up to and what my team is up to.”
Nearly all of the U.S. Women’s National Team players are on Facebook, some more public than others, using the site to post on each others wall, tag themselves in photos, and use the site like most 20-somethings do. Some, like Ruggiero, are also on Twitter, which is where this blogger found out that Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Canada was her first U.S. appearance since February’s Olympics.
Not only has social media humanized the team, but during the Olympic Winter Games, it provided unique insight into how tight-knit the group truly was, something captured by Ruggiero on a daily basis, as she tweeted photos from the venues and the Olympic Village. As she puts it, if you couldn’t be in Vancouver, the players were going to bring the experience to you.
“People love the day-to-day,” Ruggiero said. “They want to know what it is like to be an Olympic athlete. We aren’t in the papers all of the time, so this is just another way to connect with our fans.”
Knowing this, USA Hockey features social media prominently in PA reads, on its website and they stream live broadcasts, showing off a product that fans ordinarily may not get a chance to see.”
As for advice they’d have for our players?
“First be careful. Don’t tweet everything,” Ruggiero said. “But things like a two-hour nap to get ready for a game, or what your pre-game meal is right before a playoff game. Those are the things where as an athlete, or as a Red Wings fan, I’m going to be interested in.”
Angela Ruggiero and Gigi Marvin of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team talk social media
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