A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ANN RINA
An insider's look at the inner-workings of the Islanders Community Relations Manager
Wednesday, 08.25.2010 / 5:10 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
Then all at once, like a stampede of elephants, all 20 kids dash over to the Islanders defensemen asking them questions like ‘What is it like playing with John Tavares?’ ‘What is the best part about playing defense?’ and ‘Who is your best friend on the team?’
Ordinarily when someone is approached in this fashion they would feel overwhelmed, but MacDonald and Gervais are happy to answer those questions because they are in attendance as part of the Islanders Community Events Tour (I.C.E. Tour), which has been organized by Ann Rina, the Islanders Community Relations Manager.
The goal of the I.C.E. Tour is to show the people on Long Island that although Islanders games are a form of entertainment, as an organization we truly care about the people who live within our community. - Ann Rina“The goal of the I.C.E. Tour is to show the people on Long Island that although Islanders games are a form of entertainment, as an organization we truly care about the people who live within our community,” Rina said. “We create school programs to promote the importance of education, we visit sick children in local hospitals and we attend different summer camps and community events.”
“When we visit a summer camp, the visit is part of our grassroots marketing campaign, which helps us get the kids on Long Island involved in the game of ice hockey,” Rina continued. “Bringing a professional athlete to the event gives the kids more to look forward to. When a child gets a hockey-related tip from one of the players or an autograph, seeing his face light up makes each visit worth it.”
As the woman behind all player community appearances, Rina holds a variety of different responsibilities. While she works closely with the players for the I.C.E. Tour, Rina also works at the Coliseum on game nights, helping with the children’s High-Five area, the Stick Kid opportunities, Chuck-A-Puck and 50/50 raffles as well as the different charities of the game.
Rina, who has been working for the organization since the summer of 2005, also helps the players with their own charitable endeavors. Going in to this season, a lot of the players have made requests to get more involved in the community and Rina is looking forward to working with them.
“Many of the other players, including Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey, are continuing to make strides in their community development,” Rina said. “Coming in to this season, they are taking on different initiatives and it will be a lot of fun to work with them.”
As can be expected, working with the players in the community is one of Rina’s favorite tasks even though she sometimes runs around to three different appearances in one day.
“The players come to Long Island from all over the world. It makes the job exciting. All of them are willing to out into the community so when we organize player visits, I deal with each player on a case by case basis because I know different things are important to each player.”
I can feel nothing but warmth when I bring the players to hospital to visit sick children. I know that bringing a professional athlete doesn’t change the fact that these kids are sick, but it’s nice to be able to put a smile on their face when they are going through a rough time. - Ann RinaMany of the players are moved by the visits they make to the sick children in local hospitals throughout the year, especially around the holidays. Going into a hospital to spend time making arts and crafts or just talking with children who are sick or hurt and are fighting to get better elicits genuine emotions.
“I can feel nothing but warmth when I bring the players to hospital to visit sick children,” Rina said. “I know that bringing a professional athlete doesn’t change the fact that these kids are sick, but it’s nice to be able to put a smile on their face when they are going through a rough time.”
Rina doesn’t take her job as the Islanders Community Relations Manager for granted. She is very proud of the work she does and is happy she has made such wonderful memories.
“I look at my job and granted, maybe I’m not the one responsible for putting the smile on a child’s face because ultimately it’s the player, but knowing that I had my hands in arranging the visit, is a very rewarding experience,” said Rina. “It creates memories for the children and me that will last a lifetime.”