Alum Wins Regional Emmy for Work with the Philadelphia Flyers
October 25, 2021
Growing up in Bucks County just outside Philadelphia, Ryan Haagen BFA '19 (Film) became a Philadelphia Flyers fan at a young age. Today, as a member of the Flyers' content production team, he advances the club's mission to give back to the community and welcome diverse communities into the sport. His efforts in doing so were recently celebrated with a 2021 Mid-Atlantic regional Emmy award.
During most Flyers home games, you can spot Haagen capturing game-day footage from his perch behind the team benches in the Wells Fargo Center. But in addition to those duties, he is a critical member of a small team that produces the Flyers' new documentary-style web series, New Heights. The series is produced with the support of Philadelphia-based film production company Cinescope.
Since its debut earlier this year on the Flyers' YouTube channel, the series has explored the impact of hockey among those not typically associated with the sport, which has long been seen as the realm of straight, white male players and fans. In its inaugural season alone, the series has focused on LGBTQIA+ hockey fans and the work of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation to broaden the number of players of color in the sport. The episode titled "The Constant Motivator," which highlights four women, ages 7 to adult, seeking to normalize who plays the sport, received an Emmy in the Sports Program — Post-Produced or Edited category from the National Academy of Arts & Sciences Mid-Atlantic chapter. Haagen was one of the episode's cinematographers.
"It's crazy that the Flyers allow us to do this," Haagen said of the team's support of New Heights. "It shows that they care about the community, not just about the guys on the ice, which is massive. These are genuine human beings."
Though the National Hockey League has made strides in fostering diversity in hockey through initiatives like the You Can Play Project, which argues for safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, the Flyers' vision is singular, Haagen says. The content production team generates all of the ideas for New Heights episodes and is not influenced by league-wide directives.
"They were ideas cooked up at a table and executed by people who really wanted to tell these stories, which was super-important," he said. "You've got to sit down, and if you believe in something and believe it's the right thing, then go for it. That's their quota."
The club's deep ties to the community and extensive charitable work, Haagen says, ensure there will be no shortage of future ideas. He is currently working on an episode featuring the Flyers' sled hockey team, which allows players with physical disabilities to compete on the ice, and recently wrapped a feature on Philadelphia Flyers Warriors. The Warriors is a series of three teams composed entirely of military veterans, many of whom have emotional and physical scars from their service and have difficulty adjusting to civilian life.
"Just like so many guys, this team saved my life," Jim Young, the captain of the first Warriors team, told the Philadelphia Inquirer in May. "It got me out of the house. It got me to where my social functions weren't revolving around detracting behaviors. Let's put it that way: I played in high school and played in college. But when I left college and went into the Marine Corps, I didn't skate again for about 17 years."
The Warriors episode is expected to debut around Veteran's Day, Haagen said.