Taking up new sport of hockey ignites passion in Bellingham communications strategist Brian Sibley.
Brian Sibley has discovered that sometimes you can go back.
Sibley spent years in the public relations business, particularly handling crisis management, before taking a position as a communications manager at Western Washington University Foundation in 2011. He soon realized, however, that he wanted to be his own boss again helping companies with communications strategy.
Instead of focusing on just crisis management, which came be feast-or-famine when it comes to clients, Sibley decided he wanted to work with companies of a certain size, in the range of 5 to 25 employees. Companies that size move out of their start-up stage and into a phase where they have marketing needs but haven’t hired their own permanent public relations person.
Sibley says he fills the gap when a company needs a marketing strategy but can’t hire a person to fill that spot yet.
“I can come in for one or two months to set (a company) up,” he says.
One challenge for companies that size is that they may have plateaued and needs a new way to get their message out. When companies reach a certain size, they need to have some employees who specialize.
“During a start-up, it’s all-hands on deck, doing everything,” Sibley says.
Sibley grew up in Denver and was always a hockey fan, but didn’t start playing until five years ago. He had been a competitive skier growing up, and no one in his family played hockey.
He wanted to try his hand at another sport, and at age 37 he went to the Sportsplex to sign up for an instructional class. While he would have been better at hockey and skating if he had started as a child, taking up a new sport has sparked a new passion.
“I’m so glad to be doing this now,” he says. “I skied at a high level (while growing up), so now I’m frustrated at how much better I was as a kid.”
Now in a recreation league at the Sportsplex, Sibley has discovered that his personality makes him better suited for team sports, which is why a more solitary activity like running didn’t capture his interest.
Sibley says he prefers playing defense, because of the mental challenge of supporting the forwards and positioning himself in case of a breakaway by the opposing team.
In the recreation league, no body checking is allowed, so it’s a low-impact game that’s well suited for people who need to get back to work the next day.
For people in an exercise rut, Sibley recommends giving a new sport a try.
“It was hockey for me,” he says. “What I love about starting in my 30s is that I keep getting better in my 40s.”