Sierra Costa said hockey has always been a passion for her.
When her playing days were over, she said she looked into the management side of the game, studying it in college the past few years and kickstarting a career with Paramount Sports Management.
Just nine months after starting that role, the Aurora Tigers named her as general manager May 13 — the first female general manager in Canadian Junior Hockey League history.
“Being involved in hockey has always been a dream of mine,” she said. “Now I get to have my dreams become a reality.”
The team, league and Town of Aurora celebrated the milestone at the town hall. The team also announced its name sponsor, Serpa Automotive Boutique, and its captain, Connor Van Weelie, for the season ahead.
Team governor Jim Thomson said he met Costa while she was working with Paramount, watching her do many tasks, including working with draft picks and running tournaments. He said, “Right away I realized she was different.”
“I realized this would be the right person for the job,” he said, adding the position requires many different skill sets, with managing business, players and team activities. “We are extremely excited.”
Ontario Junior Hockey League commissioner Marty Savoy said it was a proud moment for the league.
“When you look at the game of hockey, it’s a male-dominated game, especially in junior hockey,” he said. “It’s about time. The glass ceiling for females in junior hockey just got shattered.”
The team finished third in its division this past season, losing out against Collingwood in the playoffs.
Costa is taking over the role from Thomson, who will remain assistant general manager. Thomson said although winning is good, the focus on the team is building up players and getting them scholarships, noting there are 132 teams in the CJHL and only one winner.
“We’re all about the player, the family, getting them to school. Winning is secondary,” he said. “If you win, that’s a bonus.”
Costa said she has built up to this over the past three years, and her work is paying off. She said she wants to ensure the team is well connected with the community, including with local girls' teams.
“I just want the Aurora Tigers to be involved in not only hockey but more than hockey. I want them to be part of the broad spectrum of what the town of Aurora has to offer,” she said.
When asked about potentially facing discrimination in the position, she said people can say what they want.
“My actions will just speak louder than words,” she said. “I will just show them what we have to offer and that girls can do it just as much as guys can.”