I was a Texas Star – My Life in the Hockey World

by Matt Clinks

I recently decided to make a life changing decision to alter something that has been a large part of me and my professional life. I am resigning my position as Marketing Manager of the Texas Stars to pursue a big opportunity. Sure, it’s a job, but being apart of the Stars organization (Dallas and Texas) has defined me, to a point. Decisions we make move us and shape us. I moved to Austin as a young Dallas Stars intern to take the role of Event Manager for the Texas Stars. I grew to love this city. I got married. I grew up. A ton has happened. It all started when I was just an intern.

At the time I was still trying to get my bearings on the “real world.” All I had known up to that point was school, internships, and being in a band. I knew I wanted something in the entertainment industry(video games, music, movies, sports), but I wasn’t exactly sure how to get there. After many an internship, including SonyBMG, I was given the great opportunity to work for the Dallas Stars as a Public Relations intern. I had always loved hockey and this was a great chance to work for the team I was a big fan of. This was an eye-opening experience. It was fun, challenging, and I learned that hard work can lead to opportunity. This job introduced me to my future boss, Rick McLaughlin. He gave me a chance down to Austin to help spread the word about the Dallas Stars new minor league affiliate, the Texas Stars.

Skip ahead a bit, the Cedar Park Center was underway, we opened an office building and brought on a full staff. I was promoted to Manager of Marketing and Game Operations in lieu of the impending inaugural season. I learned game ops…that was interesting. Regardless of of difficulties, we got it done. I learned every aspect of the “startup” process. Everyone has hands in every project. Everyone wears a billion hats. It’s what you do.

Skip ahead even further. Coworkers have come and gone. I’ve made tons of friends in the industry and local area. Made some great friends in this organization. The team made it to the Finals one year(exciting!) Regardless, there are only a few of us from the very beginning are left. I was one of them. I love this job. I really feel like I was apart of something truly special in bringing this team to this town and opening the Cedar Park Center. We are in a good place, and it’s time for me to grow.

I am blessed to have met so many amazing people and close friends. The experience of opening the Cedar Park Center is something I will never forget. This was easily one of the hardest decisions of my life, not just because of the great people, because hockey is in my blood and I’m going to miss the seasonal grind that has become a part of our lives.

Speaking of which, I am going to throw out just a few photos over the years that stand out. Some really good times:

This was the first ever event I worked for the Texas Stars. I was offered the job later today by Rick McLaughlin, and on my way to Austin shortly after. The rest is history.

This was the first day me and whitt visited the land where the brand new Cedar Park Center was going to go. crazy. Also, bad decision to wear sandals.

This is when the CPC first started going up. I used to make daily commutes to take photos for the website.

This was our first ever “Grand Opening” of the old satellite sales office on Walton Way. This is what we worked from while the CPC was being built.

This was when I first moved into my desk area. Notice I started building all of our graphics on my personal MAC. We didn’t have anything else to design with at the time. I actually still have tons of old Stars files on my little Mac at home. Funny

This was later. Once I started booking events and setting them up around town, my area turned into a trash heap of giveaways, tents, flyers, etc. Always a marketing gong-show

She’s almost done!

Here’s a look at what would become the locker room. My good buddy Elvis, the Head Equipment Manager scoping it out.

Remember when I said we did “grass roots” marketing. Let me say, we did everything. Here’s me and Brett dressed up as hockey players to show some local kids in a gym how to play hockey…in the middle of the summer.

Another classic Texas Stars staple of hard work. I used to set us up at EVERY event I could. Here’s Chris O’Brien set up in the middle of Waterloo park for a Beer festival…or something. Sidenote: I once had to go to the hospital from working too long at these things.  I think it was exhaustion.

Just a few of my favorite past/present Texas Stars staff

Yea! We hired coaches. You may recognize these two gentlemen as the Head and assistant coaches of the Dallas Stars now. Good guys. This was a big moment for our organization.

I was sick on the day they put up a beam with everyone’s name on it. So my coworkers wrote my name for me. Someone told me my name is on there like 12 times. KDAWG5000, Clinks, Matt Clinkscales, CLINKSY, etc.

The arena is almost done!

First ever Texas Stars practice on Cedar Park Center ice

Grand Opening of the CPC announcement… George Strait. This day was crazy stressful! I also cut my teeth on video editing trying make a cool intro that we played for, maybe, 5 seconds during the press conference! Also, one of my first large scale signs I designed!

Here is the big night. Our first ever event…George Strait. This was a crazy night and a big milestone for us.

This is when we first started getting some press in the area. The Dallas Stars came down for what we called “the Battle of the Stars.” Texas vs. Dallas. It was a fun publicity stunt for sure.

Let there be hockey! Before I got interns, I was on the ice for almost every intermission making sure it went smooth. As things got more complicated, we started to hire on people. Had some great interns over the years. Note: Whittney, Robin and there friend Jen where my contestants for this game.

Then there was the time me and the Hockey Ops guys decided to try and eat a 2lb donut from Round Rock donuts. I got sick. Kenny didn’t even try. Somehow, Jelly and Elvis did it. I was impressed

I used to MC all the events early on. Once we started doing watch parties for Playoff games it actually got pretty fun. We would get some big crowds.

I had to include this photo for how genuinely awkward some of these community appearances could be. Jelly saved this one for us. He could read well. Sometimes our boys were soooooo awkward. These were always interesting.

Movember with the boys…how we do!

This is a shirt some of the wives and girlfriends made. All the players had numbers. Whittney got a $ sign for me! love it.

Me and Whitey…We traded nametags. We also dressed the exact same. Good times

Good old fashioned company golf tourney!

Getting ready for a hockey game with one of my favorites, Rebecca Miller. She was also one of the first people hired.

the 2011-2012 Texas Stars Hockey Club – My most recent team photo. There I am on the far left. I was having to help set the shot up…always fun.

Here’s Rick and Roxie announcing to the group the big news at our end of the season party! After almost 5 years(4 in Austin)

So thanks to everyone that has worked with me, helped me, given me an opportunity, and challenged me. I’m definitely excited to take the next step.

Here’s to the future!