Throughout March, the Canadian Premier League will celebrate the contributions and showcase the impact of the women of the Canadian Premier League. We are proud to recognize the influence the women of our League have on our community both individually and collectively. We hope their stories inspire girls and women to see a future in our beautiful game, whether on the field or off of it, because if she can see it, she can be it.
Today, Stephanie Wood, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Vancouver FC, shares her experience launching and growing two CPL clubs: It has only been about three years since Stephanie Wood joined the Canadian Premier League, but in that short time she has already played her part in getting not only the league but two of its clubs off the ground. Wood began her CPL journey in 2020 with Pacific FC, her expertise in marketing playing an integral role in furthering the branding and identity of the would-be 2021 CPL champions. She also stepped into whatever role was required of her to ensure the emerging club and league found success. “I came in to assess what wasn’t working for the club, and then I implemented the changes,” Wood said. “I’d help with internal organization, structure and staffing, and once that was done I did marketing tasks. It was a challenge … but I learned a lot.” Wood’s time at Pacific — where she forged a connection between the club and Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw artist Johnny Maynard Jr., who designed the club’s iconic, award-winning Indigenous kit — was exactly the preparation she needed for her next endeavor in the CPL, launching Vancouver FC. Wood joined the club in April 2022, and is now weeks away from the beginning of VFC's inaugural season. Each day looks different in sport, but that statement rings particularly true when a club is starting out. Wood generally looks after anything customer and community-facing, including buying merchandise, designing billboard campaigns, landing player interviews and working on social media content plans. She was also in charge of creating and developing VFC’s brand and aesthetic, which she has implemented cohesively across a variety of channels in less than a year. Wood has kept the community surrounding VFC at the forefront of all of her decision-making since joining the club. She surveyed thousands of people to accurately determine fans’ wants and needs, which have been implemented at every step of the creative process.
“At Pacific, I learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to overcome roadblocks. I learned the community is vitally important to the club’s character, so I wanted to bring that to Vancouver,” Wood said. “But with Pacific, their branding came from the league. So it was a special experience to create Vancouver’s logos and feel in-house this time.”
It is surreal to Wood to see her work out into the world. Less than a year ago, she was overwhelmed, lacking staff and uncertain if VFC was going to take off. Now, she’s seeing her logo on the team’s newly launched kits and the merchandise both she and the fans are repping daily. “It’s a bit alien to see the logo, brand, name and colourways that I developed with my colleagues on clothes people are wearing,” Wood said. “But it’s so special. I hope the club grows and people know that we’re purpose-driven. It’s not just about soccer, but understanding who we are as a brand and that we represent the community.” Wood knows that in that community there are many women and girls with a love for the game who can bring value to the sport in Canada, no matter their area of expertise. Wood is, for example, just one of a number of women with an expertise in marketing working at the club or league level. She wants any woman or girl with an interest in working in sport to know they too can turn that desire into a reality, and all the while altering the existing landscape of the sport. “I would have been eaten up in this industry if I wasn’t a strong person,” Wood added. “Women in sport have to be brave and unbothered. You deserve to be in sport if you want to. You deserve your place and to be a leader for others.” Julia Ranney is a freelance writer based in Toronto.