Correcting my misconceptions of hackathons

What my first hackathon experience at the Sportsnet Hockey Hack: Powered by Rogers 5G was like

My name is Tamania M. and I am here to tell you all about my hacking journey! 

Now, first things first, as a student in the Accounting and FinancialTamania Management (AFM) program at the University of Waterloo, my knowledge of coding is pretty limited. I had the misconception that only students who knew how to code or “hack” could participate in hackathons. For anyone else with similar notions, let me tell you that you are entirely incorrect!

The reason I signed up for the Sportsnet Hockey Hack organized by Concept was not because I knew how to code, or because I was a fan of hockey, or because I gambled it was solely because hackathons are the perfect place to be innovative, and that is something I love to do! I have thousands of ideas every single day, which is why I can say that a hackathon is where the magic happens because suddenly, I now have a whole team of super talented and dynamic individuals working together to make an idea come to life.

The week-long Sportsnet Hockey Hack offered a unique opportunity for students from all disciplines to work with Rogers’ groundbreaking 5G technology. Using real on-ice tracking data from NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs games, my team and I devised an innovative way to increase audience engagement and enhance the fan experience for Sportsnet viewers. Our team developed FanFortune, a fun micro-betting experience that will allow viewers to predict player actions during a game.

Through this experience I got to meet students I wouldn’t regularly have the chance to connect with, and I cannot express how valuable it is to have these interactions with individuals from different faculties, backgrounds, and experiences. But it doesn’t just stop there. Being part of such a diverse team makes you realize the kind of value you can bring within that setting as well. Sometimes all you need is the willingness to contribute, which generates a lot of creativity in it of itself. There wasn’t a single moment during the week of the competition where I wasn’t working on something, and that’s simply because there’s just so much to consider when taking an idea from the beginning phase to the point where it can realistically be implemented. For example, I had to think about the kinds of regulations in place associated with the idea, the monetization strategy, the best way to accumulate users, customer incentives, and more importantly, what the pitch would look and sound like.

So, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you know how to code or not, what does matter is that you try new experiences, go in with an open mind, and have the eagerness to contribute and learn something new. That’s essentially what this experience was for me, an opportunity where I was encouraged within an environment to step out of my comfort zone to reach a common goal, and I can definitely say that our second place win was just the bonus of it all! 

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