Jaden Tyson knows there aren't many in hockey who look like him, but that only made the chance at an internship with the Nashville Predators more attractive.
A sophomore mass communications major at Tennessee State University, Tyson was connected with the Preds at a career fair at TSU, pursued a position "aggressively" as he says, and that passion to learn and grow with Nashville's hockey team has come to fruition.
Now, Tyson is learning the ins and outs of the industry with an internship at the Ford Ice Centers this semester with the Predators, a spot he is thrilled to have, and one he hopes is just the start of his experiences in the organization.
"One of my biggest things was just bringing something different to hockey," Tyson said. "A lot of African Americans don't really play the sport, or people are not really into it, but bringing that diversity to the sport, I wouldn't be able to do that without the Preds… Many people may not play or see African Americans play the game, or maybe even want to learn it or be in it, but me, I'm trying to do something different."
A former basketball, football and soccer player himself, Tyson's desire to try something new, coupled with his contagiously positive attitude, have made his foray into the organization and the game of hockey rewarding.
Tyson's arrival coincides with the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone month and the Predators' celebration of Black History Month with initiatives underway during the month of February to promote inclusivity in the sport. The Predators have also continued their partnership with Tyson's school - TSU - that began in February of 2020.
Part of that relationship between the Preds and TSU involves internship and employment opportunities within the two organizations. Tyson is part of the team's Smashville Education 101 (SE101) program, and only a month into his internship, there's already been plenty to learn.
He's scheduled events at Ford Ice Center involving the Little Preds Learn to Play Programs, as well as finding coaches, referees and scorekeepers for various games, practices and events. Tyson also recently worked a Predators Get Out And Learn! (G.O.A.L!) program event, giving him insight into what it takes to get children on the ice at the grassroots level.
"I enjoy it a lot, and seeing different people, and seeing all the kids too, that's a big thing," Tyson said. "It makes me go back and think about the times that I was playing sports… It feels good to help because it makes me think, 'Man, I wish I could go back to being eight years old and play.'"
These days for Tyson are exciting too, and for a sports fanatic who wants to one day make his way into the industry, an internship with the Predators has been an ideal start.
"I want to learn different things, and I want to learn about something I can fall in love with," Tyson said. "Being at my age, I'm still like most people trying to figure out what I want to do, or what I necessarily want to focus… This is a good opportunity for me for being in something that I want to be in with my major and also connecting with people in a department that I hope I could be in one day… I saw it as a chance, and it really drove me to get the opportunity to learn what I want."
One of those things Tyson has learned? The sports industry all seems to be connected in one way or another. Oftentimes, it's not what you know, it's who you know - and it's not who you know, but it's who knows you. The chance to learn from industry professionals throughout the Predators organization is one Tyson is taking advantage of, and he hopes those connections will one day pay off with a full-time position, whether it's in Nashville or elsewhere.
"In the sports industry, it's good to get connected in all areas because you never know where it can lead you to," Tyson said. "My favorite sport is basketball. I love basketball or football or soccer, but who knows? Doing this, I could really fall in love with hockey, or this can lead me back to maybe somewhere in the basketball arena where I can do something there. It's many different connections, so that's how I looked at it. I looked at it and took it as this is something I want to do. I wanted to reach out hard to get that opportunity."
Now that he's landed the gig, Tyson is already finding out what it takes to have a career in sports. Not only will that knowledge help him in the future, it's also seeing he can pass it on to his classmates at TSU as he becomes an upperclassman in the coming years.
As Tyson said, he wants to bring something different to the game of hockey. His internship with the Preds is a great start, and he plans on making the most of it, not only for this semester, but for years to come.
"Take in everything and be a sponge - that's one thing I am learning," Tyson said. "I've gotten better at taking it all in and seeing everything day by day, just observing and asking questions too. I would say ask as many questions as you can, because you never know when it will come back around. You want to ask it all because you never know how it could help you, whether it's at your next internship or further down the line. You never know."
Click here to learn more about how the Predators are celebrating Black History Monthand Hockey Is For Everyone Month. For more on how the organization is bringing awareness to create positive change with their GUIDER (Growth, Understanding, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Representation) initiative, founded with the objective of diminishing the prevalence of social injustice, click here.