Aafke Loney didn’t plan for her family’s lifelong involvement in hockey to blend seamlessly with her passion for business; it just happened that way. Aafke, who earned her MBA from Chatham in 2011, along with her husband Troy Loney, are the proud co-owners of the Youngstown Phantoms (youngstownphantoms.com) of the United States Hockey League. This acquisition marries the couple’s backgrounds, and Aafke has big plans for developing not only the Phantom’s players – but also the team’s fans and sponsors – so that “everyone invested receives a complete experience, a value in supporting the team.”
The Phantoms have enjoyed much recent success: five of the team’s alumni have signed NHL contracts, an additional three players were drafted in the 2014 NHL draft and, this year, one of their players is projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2015 NHL draft. Aafke’s latest venture is a Girl’s Hockey Weekend skills competition and symposium on Saturday, Oct. 11 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, OH. “We are excited to support the 2014 USA Girl’s Hockey Weekend October 10-12 through providing this opportunity for girl’s youth hockey in Pennsylvania and Ohio,” says Aafke. Chatham University Women’s Ice Hockey coaches, captains and players will present a College Athletics Q & A followed by on-ice skills development during the event.
Aafke’s connection to Chatham also exists off the ice. She raves about her experience in the MBA program and asserts she was challenged beyond how she thought she could be challenged. “My classmates were remarkable, I learned so much from them,” she says. “I gained valuable tools and the confidence to take risks.” Upon graduation, she partnered with Chatham Business Administration Faculty member, Christine Ricci, to launch Business & Education Connected, LLC, (business-education-connected.com) a service that helps high school and college students match their strengths to career paths and then tie those career paths to class selection. The pair has even employed the services of Chatham’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship in the development of their company.
While Aafke’s audience may vary – her Phantom players, the young women who aspire to play ice hockey, or even a current or prospective Chatham graduate student – her advice is the same: “Take risks. Don’t limit who you think you are; how you define yourself. If a door opens, step through it. Every step I’ve taken has given me the confidence to expand who I am and – ultimately – who I will become.”