ALUMNI SHINE AT PREDS CAMP
Date: Jun 28, 2019
With the 2018 Elite Edge Hockey Showcase around the corner, we are starting a series of stories to help our players learn about what is needed to make the next steps in their hockey journey. The first of these features is Josh Kestner - a Huntsville, AL, native who finished his four-year college career at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. After a 24-goal campaign this past season, he joined the Toronto Marlies of the AHL for their final regular season games. Here is his story:
I’m proud to be a hockey player from Huntsville, Alabama.
Is it what you might call a hockey hotbed? Probably not, but you have to play with the hand you’re dealt in order to move on to the next level. So how did a kid from Huntsville follow up a four-year collegiate stint in his hometown with a chance at the AHL level this season?
A lot of hard work, a dash of opportunity, and a camp in Nashville, Tennessee called Elite Edge. When I was 14, I made my first trip up to Nashville to skate at the camp. Little did I know at the time, I’d spend a long weekend over the next four summers at Elite Edge, becoming a better player and a better person.
Long story short, Elite Edge was the stomping ground to my career.
The exposure I received in front of coaches from all over the continent got me an invite to an open camp in the North American Hockey League, and even though I didn’t make it there, I got drafted into the NA3HL, played one year there, and then went back to Elite Edge. From there, I was scouted by the Sarnia Legionnaires of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. I played there for two years and then that’s when I got a look from Alabama-Huntsville, the program I used to watch when I was a kid.
I have no one but Elite Edge to thank for that.
For me, Elite Edge was an eye opener on how serious hockey is at the higher levels. A lot of kids growing up, they all say they want to play in the NHL or they want to play at the next level, but it doesn’t really sink in until you play competitive hockey. Elite Edge was a camp where there’s always a better hockey player than you. All that does is push you to be better.
You just have to go in there and try to make the most of your opportunity. You’re always going to be surrounded by a great coaching staff, the players always well taken care of and you learn so much. You learn how the game works and how every level becomes more and more serious, which in turn forces you to really buckle down and put in the work.
As I look back on my time spent at the camps, there are a few things that stick out to me, both for the rookies and the seasoned vets.
If you’re a newcomer, the most simple and best advice I could give is to be a sponge. That’s as simple as it gets. Go in there with an open mindset, shut your mouth, put the work in, learn from other players and coaches and really develop your game in order to be successful.
If this is your third or even fourth time at Elite Edge, this is the time to showcase your talent. You really have to put it out there in order to get noticed. You also have to be prepared before the camp. You’ve got to train hard, work out hard and do all the little things that are going to make you successful.
But, no matter your age or experience level – and this applies every time you step on the ice – just enjoy the ride. That’s as simple and easy as I can make it.
A lot of young kids, they get frustrated when something doesn’t go their way or the grind is too difficult. Just take a step back and enjoy the process. I know training isn’t necessarily the most fun thing, but it’s what you need to do to make it to the next level. All the practices and scrimmages at Elite Edge, all the physical testing, just enjoy it. Have fun with your friends, work hard, be a sponge and take everything you can from the camp to succeed at the next level.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you’re willing to put in the work and keep a positive attitude, you might just be the next kid from the south to put your town on the hockey map.
And if you’re starting the journey at Elite Edge, you’re already well on your way to doing just that.