Nothing says synonymous like university students and minimum wage labour. But don’t tell that to Matt Pfeffer, a second-year Economics student at Trent University who claims to be doing his dream job.
“I guess they call me a statistical analyst,” said the Ottawa resident. He works in the front office of the Ottawa 67’s, an Ontario Hockey League team. The job entails “taking data from drafts, OHL stats, fitness,” says Pfeffer. “I make sense of it so I can present it in a way that the 67’s can take it and use it however they like.”
The road to this dream job hasn’t been smooth. Last December he decided to leave the Peterborough Petes after they fired their head coach Mike Pelino, and took his current position with the 67’s.
“In general I think it is hard for people to accept new ways of evaluating players,” Pfeffer said as he browsed through his database, which contains information about players from across the world.
Pfeffer originally grabbed the attention of the Ottawa 67’s by writing articles for TheScout.ca, a prominent source of hockey prospect information. After the turmoil of switching teams, he has found stability with the 67’s. “I have a lot of fun. I have a great organization who gave me a good opportunity to do what I do and I just couldn’t imagine a better situation,’ Pfeffer says.
If this all sounds a lot like a movie you’ve watched, that’s because it is. The blockbuster film Moneyball, featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Keri, is about Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, who turned the baseball world on its head by using economics to select players. Pfeffer says that the movie and book inspired him. “Moneyball had a real influence on me. I just loved it. The way Billy Beane and other general managers thought about sports economically always appealed to me.”
Pfeffer’s studies at Trent have helped him with his job. Theories learned in class are used at the rink. “I am applying economic theories to hockey” he explains. You can even catch him doing a bit of work on campus from time to time. His favourite spot is a conference room on the top floor the library that looks out on the east bank of campus.
Despite the long hours and hard work he puts in, he still feels like a typical university student. “I know sometimes when I tell people what I do, they think I am a guy who has no fun, a career guy, but I think I am just normal 19 year old. I like to party like everyone else.”
At 19 years of age, Pfeffer is doing a job in his field of study that he thoroughly enjoys. It is easy to say he has bright future ahead of him. He has his sights set high, admitting that being the General Manager of the Ottawa Senators would be a dream come true, though he doesn’t see that position opening anytime soon.
When asked if he would make sports management a career, he replied in the way any young person could about their future: “I have no idea.”