By Doug Kennedy
Ask an Olympic athlete about their path to the summer or winter games, and they’ll often refer to “the journey” to get there.
As someone who has it on her bucket list to tell stories while Team Canada through an Olympic hockey cycle and at the International Ice Hockey Federation world championships, Lee Boyadjian is taking her own unique journey.
Boyadjian is close to crossing those items off her list, as the video producer for Hockey Canada. It’s been quite a ride from Kincardine to Calgary for the daughter of Cathy and Joe Boyadjian, whose passion for sports at a young age prompted her mother to steer her towards a career in sports journalism when she was in Grade 7.
“My entire family (including sister Jenny and brothers Paul and Tim) was immersed in sports and deserve a lot of credit for providing me with the inspiration to find great stories within every game,” said Boyadjian.
Another influential voice for Boyadjian when she was growing up here was Kincardine’s current Deputy Mayor Marie Wilson, who was the editor of a local newspaper, where Boyadjian did a co-op placement in her Grade 11.
“Marie taught me about journalism, photography, and being a working mom,” said Boyadjian, “and to always keep a pair of comfortable shoes under your desk.”
“Which I still do.”
Wilson remembers being impressed with the young secondary-school student in her interview for the co-op position at the News.
“She was incredibly mature, confident and passionate about her desire to be a sports reporter,” Wilson told me. “It was exciting to see her dedication and incredible. The staff at the newspaper knew she was destined for a high level of personal and professional success.”
“Congrats Lee. . . . you did it!”
Boyadjian left KDSS, and Kincardine, in the fall of 2004 to begin working towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Ryerson University. Steve McAllister, a fellow Ryerson graduate,was a member of Sports Media Canada when Boyadjian received the organization’s Student Award and bursary at its Achievement Awards in 2007. McAllister met Boyadjian a few years later when he was the managing editor of Yahoo Canada Sports and the young journalism graduate was working in Sudbury as the Northern Ontario bureau reporter for CTV News.
“Lee asked to speak with me about opportunities in sports media,” said McAllister. “She sent me some clips of her work and I remember telling her that I was surprised the folks at TSN and Sportsnet weren’t fighting to hire her. She had a great on-camera presence and an obvious knack for finding the best story.”
“Hockey Canada is very fortunate to have Lee working for them today, showcasing her talent and passion for storytelling.”
Her first job after university was a volunteer position at Rogers TV. She loved doing those live broadcasts and really misses that today. Her first paying job was at Rogers TV as the sports anchor and producer for Durham Region. She also hosted and produced a 30-minute sports talk show.
In 2011, she took a job with CTV Kitchener as a video journalist and sports anchor, and also worked in the news department. In 2014, she moved to Sudbury and continued to build on her sports resume as the weekend sports anchor on the local station’s newscasts and also covering the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves.
In 2015, she moved south for a job with the Ontario Hockey Federation. John Kastner, who sits on the OHF board of directors, said Boyadjian was the federation’s first-ever communications manager.
“It was really nice to have a full-time job in hockey and I learned a lot from my time there,” said Boyadjian. She also handled both internal and external communications for the OHF while being heavily involved in the OHF championships, OHL Gold Cup and OHF Awards Banquet.
The OHF position opened the door to her dream job with Hockey Canada. She is involved in shooting, editing, producing and writing. While she works with all departments, including development, events, and high performance, it is the grassroots stories she really loves. Hockey Canada’s community program, sponsored by Scotiabank, focuses on people from all corners of the country who love the game.
“It is such an honour to meet them and share their stories,” she said.
While Boyadjian’s aspirations during her broadcasting days to work for TSN didn’t happen, she has produced videos for the all-sports network, including a feature during the final of the 2019 Esso Cup, and coverage of the 2020 national junior team selection camp announcements.
Not surprisingly, she credits family with having a huge influence in her journey.
“My parents gave me the courage the pursue this career and they have never blinked as I moved around the province and then to Canada to fulfill my dreams,” Boyadjian said. “My husband Kyle has been a huge support. He left his family and job at CTV Kitchener after working there for 10 years to support my move in January 2019 to Hockey Canada in Calgary.”
Kyle now works at CTV’s Calgary bureau, and with Lee they have a two-year-old daughter and a baby girl born in March. She also has an 18-year-old stepson, named Aaron.
One of Lee’s best friends is Jenn Crouchman, an occupational therapist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto. Their friendship in Kincardine started at the Davidson Centre
“Our youngest sisters played hockey together, so we would hang out at their games and Kincardine Bulldogs games,” said Crouchman, who’s not surprised by her friend’s professional success. “She always had a passion and very strong drive and focus to report on, and tell stories about people in the world of sports. I cannot wait to see what she does next.”
One thing I have learned about writing these stories during this Covid-19 pandemic is how many amazing young women and men from this area that are playing strong roles in forming the future for athletes across Canada. Boyadjian is another young woman we should be so proud of.
She wants to show her daughters that happiness is within reach, but sometimes you have to take a big step – or two – to get it.