The Remarkable Women Behind the Bridgeport Islanders

The Remarkable Women Behind the Bridgeport Islanders

Mar 27, 2024

By Joe Flionis | Bridgeport Islanders


On a typical game day at Total Mortgage Arena, you can find Brianne Tompkins in the box office, laptop open, navigating seating charts and answering emails.


The Director of Ticket Operations has been a staple of the venue’s operation since 2007. She’s seen more change than anyone. When she was initially hired, Tompkins remembers having just two female co-workers throughout the entire organization.


“I think it’s a really telling sign that we’ve reached that point in society where there is a hunger to hire women in the sports industry,” Tompkins said. “We’re seeing that across different sports but especially in hockey, and certainly in our office.”


The Putnam County, N.Y. native is one of nearly 50 women who will help the Bridgeport Islanders and Total Mortgage Arena navigate another successful season in 2023-24. Their importance cannot be overlooked and in celebration of these amazing individuals, the Islanders will host “Women in Sports” Night on Saturday.


There are so many talented women here that are the backbone of our organization,” Tompkins added. “Even five years ago, I never thought this would be a reality. It’s a testament to the Islanders organization and Oak View Group, and their constant awareness to promote inclusivity and equality.”


In order to create change, you must be open to looking beyond what may be part of your current circle. The Islanders have done that. From their box office - to the sales, marketing and sponsorship staffs - to gameday personnel, concessions, ushers, off-ice officials, and everywhere in-between.


Director of Marketing for Total Mortgage Arena, Molly Kreycik, credits her coaches growing up as critical role models - her biggest influences for wanting to work in the sports industry.


“I had some fantastic women coaches growing up, and I was lucky to have people like that to look up to within the sports world,” Kreycik said. “As far as in this industry, I think you look at a lot of broadcasters out there like Maria Taylor, who are always chasing their careers and making space for women, and I think highlighting them is very important.”


Kreycik joined the organization in September of 2021, working closely with all departments and making strong connections in the community with local businesses and media outlets to promote Islanders’ home games and all other events at Total Mortgage Arena. She is also responsible for the arena’s official social media accounts.


Meanwhile Haley Castellari runs point on the team’s official accounts and email marketing initiatives. She joined the club in June of 2022, and has worked relentlessly to break boundaries and overcome obstacles that could have held her back.


“Growing up and coming into this position, I didn’t see a lot of women representation,” Castellari said. “Really just trying to find my place at the table has always been kind of a challenge, but as I have grown in this position and worked through it, I have overcome the doubts in myself and developed my skills, finding my place within the organization.”


It has paid off tenfold.


“I think what I really love about my job is how creative I can be, and showing how much I can bring to the online experience,” Castellari said. “It challenges me to think outside the box and develop new skills. It’s also really cool to work with the team and create content that is compelling.”


It’s no question that breaking into the business as a woman was more difficult and being taken seriously had its challenges, as many of these women found out.


For Megan Hopton, the team’s game presentation manager who grew up in another country, she witnessed these difficulties first-hand.


“I think one of the biggest challenges is people underestimating you and underestimating your knowledge more than anything,” Hopton said. “I think a big stereotype is that women aren’t interested in sports or have a lack of knowledge for the rules or for the actual game. Growing up in England and moving to the U.S., I think that was my biggest challenge I faced, people underestimating my ability to pick up the rules and always having some kind of doubts.”


Devon Golder is the team’s content production coordinator. After graduating from Penn State University in 2023, she joined the Bridgeport Islanders this past summer. With a background in multimedia field, Golder wanted to produce high-quality, well thought out content of players and fans for the Islanders’ social media accounts and the in-game experience.


For me, capturing little kids at their first hockey game is the most rewarding because I know that was me at one point,” Golder said. “A lot of them are so giddy. I just love capturing the special moments for the fans.”


The marketing and sponsorship departments within professional sports organizations have always been extremely male-dominated positions. But Castellari, Hopton and Golder along with Bridgeport’s Corporate Partnership Account Executives Isabella Giansanti and Cierra Green are among those breaking stereotypes.


Despite the constant challenges that these women faced head-on, they have continuously persevered and generated an effective work environment within the Islanders organization. These women have created and been part of lasting memories within the team that won’t soon be forgotten.


“Being part of a team’s front office wasn’t necessary something I even considered because it just wasn’t that visible to me at first,” Tompkins said. “Thankfully, there are so many inspirational women out there that are flipping the script and making that change a reality.”


The glass ceiling has been shattered — it’s now the glass floor.

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