Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I have not been writing articles all summer. That is because I have been quite busy with an internship. This internship was at a magical place that they call Minnesota Hockey Camps. If you don’t know what that is let me tell you. It is a hockey camp where the likes of T.J. Oshie, Scott Hartnell, Ryan Malone, Brad Malone, and Clarke MacArthur (just to name a few) train during the off-season. Not only do pros train there but kids of all ages train their as well and they do it at the same intensity level.
Everyone’s day consists of the same thing whether you are 5 or 35. You have 2 on-ice sessions, an hour long weights session, an hour long dryland session, and a half-hour classroom session where they learn about everything from injury prevention to how to effectively use social media. The camp is about making you a great overall hockey player and has one overall theme: work hard.
A couple of people really stood out to me while I was there. They were inspirational and embodied what the camp was all about.
Carrie Wood-Grillo: Our Fearless Leader
As well as being media intern for MHC part of my job was interning for the #hartnelldown Foundation as well. There were 4 other interns that I worked with and we all answered to Carrie Wood-Grillo. Carrie has to be the hardest working person I have ever met. She ran everything at the camp that didn’t have to do with hockey and the #hartnelldown Foundation simultaneously. She went 9 weeks straight without a single day off, and will have about a week of vacation before going to Philadelphia to organize events for #hartnelldown. Carrie is my hero and I feel that having had her in my life this summer helped me to grow into the person I want to be.
The Work Ethic of Drew LeBlanc
There were a lot of elite athletes around the camp at various points throughout the summer but none seemed to match the work ethic of Drew LeBlanc. Drew has recently been signed by the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks and Hawks fans should be very happy about this acquisition because Drew is something special. He attended camp for all 9 weeks and participated in every activity, every single day. Even after the day’s activities were over he did extra work in the gym. He is also a genuinely nice guy. He took time out of his busy schedule to take pictures with the campers and his Hobey Baker Award. He also took the time to let me and another intern, Laura Hashem, interview him about his time at camp, which you can see here. Drew is an inspiration, whose story shows us that hard work goes a long way. He is definitely someone to watch this season.
The Generosity of Scott Hartnell
If you don’t already know the #hartnelldown Foundation was started by Scott Hartnell after someone was making fun of him for falling down all the time. He took that and decided to spin it and use it for good. He now sells t-shirts and holds fundraisers to help various causes that are close to his heart. As an intern I got to see a lot of what the foundation does. The #hartnelldown Foundation donated a week of camp for 11 kids to the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which helps underprivileged children in Philadelphia play hockey. These kids not only got to participate in all the regular camp activities but they also got an extra on-ice session with Scott himself. Watching Scott interact with those kids and listening to what Scott had to say about his foundation really opens your eyes to the real Scott Hartnell. He is not just some goofball who falls down and fights; he also has a good heart.
The Wisdom of Gringo
The person that made the biggest impression on me this summer wasn’t any of the pro hockey players. The person that is the heart and soul of Minnesota Hockey Camps is its owner Chuck Grillo, but he prefers you call him Gringo. Every word that came out of his mouth was valuable and he had amazing stories to tell. The thing that drove everything he did was hard work. He makes an impression on everyone he meets and becomes part of their lives.
A great example of this was every Sunday when he gave his speech to all the new campers just starting their week of camp. He would bring his Stanley Cup Ring that he received in 2009 when he was a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins and after his speech he would let kids (and us interns) take pictures with it. He would always be in the room where his speech was long after it was over just chatting with children and parents about all his experiences working in the hockey industry. When people would ask for a picture with him he would always say send it to me, just like a friend would say to another friend when they took a picture together. Spending time with Gringo was definitely one of the most valuable things that came from this internship and I feel that my life is truly better because I know him.
If you want to be a hockey player Minnesota Hockey Camps is the place to be. Interning for them was an amazing opportunity and I think the other interns would agree with me. If this article inspires you to want to go there visit their website mnhockeycamps.com. You can also like them on facebook and follow them on twitter @mnhockeycamps.