Wall of Fame

Anatomy of Success: Rising Star Alex Cannon

April 4th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

IMG_7920-1What does it take to elevate your game? Ask Alex Cannon, who has had a burning desire since age 8 to play on a Detroit team.

Today, it’s safe to say that the Captain of the Plymouth Compuware’s UA15 team who has recently been asked to commit to the elite Oakland Junior Grizzlies U16 AAA team has reached his goal in a big way. Getting there took inspiration, perspiration, and great year-round coaching.

“It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Al has been called up to the Oakland U16 AAA team,” said coach Mark Olson. “That kid has drive, perseverance, and talent to burn. But most importantly, he’s always ready to do the work.”

Cannon began training with Coach Olson in the Athletic Mentors hockey program in 2011 at age 11, where he began sports-specific, age-specific training. His family called summer hockey camp the first “turning point” in his development.

“Al began to learn and understand the importance of training and nutrition in order to get better at hockey and take it to the next level. Because he was and still is so focused and driven, he took all of this and began to apply it to his everyday life,” said Lu Cannon.

For Al, the next few summers at Athletic Mentors summer hockey school gave him an opportunity to work out, stick handle and be on the ice with older kids, junior players and some pros. This pushed him even more to adopt winning practices and rise to the level of advanced play.

One pivotal moment for Al came after an on-ice training session with Eddie Ward. Ward sat all of the kids down and in essence said, “You have to stand out. If your parents have to ask you to stick handle and train you might as well not try to play at a high level. You have to want it and be self-motivated. If you are in a group of kids, you better do something out there that makes you get noticed by the coaches. It’s important to continue to workout all year long and stick handle. This will set you apart from the rest.” Al took those words to heart.

In 2013, he began to workout with Coach Olson all year long. For the first year he was the only one his age working out several times a week after school. He continued to ask to play in Detroit. Coaches Olson, Ward and his parents told him to be patient.

When Al became a Bantam that was the year they were allowed to check. The first game of the season, Al came on the ice with confidence ready to go. His first check was on a player probably 30 pounds heavier. The guy was not expecting it from him and the players, crowd and coaches sat there stunned. From that point forward, that is how Al has played: with ice vision, speed, confidence, strength, leadership and a strong team presence.

“Timing and patience is everything. The support, guidance, and development that Mark Olson, Eddie Ward and Athletic Mentors along with Al’s determination and hard work have opened doors,” said Lu Cannon.

Registration is now open for our summer Dryland Training, On-Ice Skills and Power Skating programs. Visit the Registration Center for details.

Athletic Mentors Hockey Camp Coach Suits Up As NHL Duck

April 14th, 2015 by Athletic Mentors

noesen_resizedYou might find Athletic Mentors hockey camp alumni Stefan Noesen suited up for the Anaheim Ducks this spring, or wearing an Athletic Mentors Coaching Jersey, depending on the day. It’s been a long strange trip from Plano, Texas to the NHL, but for unstoppable two-way right-winger with the “high hockey IQ,” the ride is worth the fare.

Noesen was called up from the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals to log ice time in the bigs with the Anaheim Ducks earlier this month.

“I definitely had a little bit of jitters in the beginning,” said the 22-year-old.
“As the game went on, it starts to be hockey and those feelings go away. It was a dream come true.”

Noesen’s NHL agent, Eddie Ward, predicts his April debut won’t be his last time in suit, and credits Athletic Mentor’s Pro Hockey Camp with Noeson’s ongoing development and steady progress toward the top of his game.

“Training with coach Mark Olson has given Stefan the edge to up his game and get the call,” said Ward. “He has made outstanding gains in terms of strength and conditioning in the two years he’s trained with Athletic Mentors. The program’s pro-style focus on speed, strength, skills and diet is unparalleled,” Ward said.

Noesen, at 6’2” and 205 lbs, was a first-round draft pick in 2011 for the Ottawa Senators and remains in the NHL’s top 35 prospects in central scouting rank. His proving ground in the OHL and AHL was protracted when he was sidelined by injuries, including a torn ACL that had him sit out the 2013 season, and an Achilles tendon injury last fall. But Noesen has battled back to top form, a feat Ward calls “inspiring.”

“It’s been amazing what he’s gone through. I’m really proud of Stef. There are two ways a story like this can go. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, Stef’s continued to get himself in phenomenal shape, trained really hard in the summer, had a great training camp…It is just amazing how he’s persevered,” said Ward.

Ward is teaming up with coach Olson this summer to unveil the Athletic Mentor’s On-Ice Ultimate Skills & Conditioning program. Noesen is joining the team as an assistant coach, a role for which Ward says he was made.

“Stefan pays attention to detail and knows all about focusing on the little things to ratchet up his play. I think our young athletes will really benefit from his experience and his incredible attitude. He’s a smart, competitive player with a high-energy, two-way game.”

The team’s excited to provide something different that hasn’t been available to serious players who want to get to the next level.

“This is a camp that’s going to be focused on attention to details; a high-end program that’s really going to push the athletes. In other words: not your typical camp,” Ward said.

As an agent, he feels serious pro contenders need to train year-round to remain competitive players. Increasingly, those who make the pro circuit are one-sport athletes from an early age and are committed to hard work at strong summer programs.

But quantity does not beat quality, he warns.

Even those players who’ve trained year-round from an early age — like Noesen — can use a boost with elite strength and conditioning training and the kind of on-ice skills best mentored by those who’ve played pro or at elite levels.

Noesen is the product of early Dryland training as a former 10-year member of Dallas’s Ice Jets hockey program, where he helped lead his team to a U-12 Tier 1 national championship.

Dryland training has historically been an innovative approach to training all aspects of an athlete, from nutritional counseling to explosive power through strength conditioning. A handful of programs across the US have been pioneers, Athletic Mentors among them.

Noesen, the son of two college basketball athletes, fell in love with hockey at the age of 3 when his grandfather taught him the “motions” of ice skating in the living room. Since then, he’s been driven for ice time.

Despite the hot, humid climate in Dallas, Noesen trained year-round since he was 8 years old. He moved to Northville, Michigan to spend two seasons in the Compuware Under-16 Team, winning a national championship in 2009. After his first-round draft selection, he played with the OHL Plymouth Whalers until traded to Anaheim.

His advice for young athletes who want to make the play to go pro is “don’t stop believing – or improving!”

“Every game I push myself to be better and better, and the more I push myself, the higher I go in the standings,” Noesen said. “Play big and train hard.”

AM’s Hockey Athlete earned WCHA Offensive Player of the Week

October 7th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

ChadMcDonaldHats off to our own hockey program alumni, Chad McDonald, who is now a sophomore forward with Ferris State University. Chad was nominated as the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week this week. He had two goals, a team-high five total shots and a +1 rating during ninth-ranked Ferris State’s season-opening, 4-3 win over #8 Michigan before a sellout crowd at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. The sophomore from Battle Creek, Mich. scored the game-winner with a short-handed tally in the second period. His opening goal came just 1:03 into the contest as the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick, 2-0 lead. Way to do us proud, Chad!

Read more standings, schedules or watch live games at the WCHA site.

Do you know someone who aspires to this level of play? Check out our Hockey Camps & Clinics and train like a pro!

AM Hockey Trainee Signs with Indiana Tech Warriors

March 14th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

SigningSchmittAthletic Mentors co-founder and head hockey coach Mark Olson is tipping his hat to Michael Schmitt, Battle Creek Revolution forward who has just signed with the Indiana Tech men’s hockey team.

“Michael’s been with our program for years and has proven himself to be disciplined, tough, and committed to excellence,” Coach Olson said. “He’s an outstanding athlete, and a great guy. Indiana Tech made a good call.”

Schmitt, who hails from Kalamazoo, is a 5-foot-7, 155-pound forward who played in 44 games in the NA3HL where he collected 12 points on seven goals and five assists. While his parents credit Olson’s  coaching for much of their son’s “strength, leadership, and mental toughness,” Schmitt’s tireless hours of hard work finally paid off on the ice when he caught the eye of of Indiana Tech’s Head Coach, Frank DiCristofaro.

“I like Michael’s competitive edge,” said DiCristofaro in a press release. “He works hard on the ice and even harder off of it. He had a great understanding of the game and has some deceptive speed through the neutral zone. He is a true student-athlete and is the type of person we want in this program.”

When asked what it means to join the first hockey team at Indiana Tech, Schmitt said, “I am excited to become a part of the first college hockey program at Indiana Tech. The support they get from the school is amazing and the amenities they have is what drew me to their program.”

Kudos to AM Hockey Alumni Andrey Alexeev

July 25th, 2012 by Athletic Mentors
Photo courtesy of SaginawSpirit.com

Photo courtesy of SaginawSpirit.com

Athletic Mentor Coach Mark Olson is pleased to congratulate hockey camp alumni Andrey Alexeev for his draft to the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit late. The Russian forward is slated to lace up for the Spirit’s  training camp in late August.

Andrey initially came to Athletic Mentors to prepare for the  2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (also known as the U-18 Junior World Cup and formerly known as the Pacific Cup and the Nations Cup) and the upcoming  OHL season. He has been recovering from shoulder surgery for numerous months and was eager to get back into shape.

“Andrey has worked extremely hard 6 days per week for the past 5 weeks and has shown tremendous commitment to his game, and he is looking AWESOME!  He is fit, strong and fast.  He is a stand-out during our camps on ice sessions.  I expect to see Andrey do some great things with the Spirit next season!” Olson said.

Alexeev played for Team Russia in the  Under 16, Four Nations Tournament, where he was one of the team’s top scorers.

The 1995-year left winger was selected by the Spirit as the 33rd overall pick in the  CHL Import Draft. Alexeev follows fellow countryman and Import Selection goaltender Nikita Serebryakov in the committing to the Spirit program, joining OHL Priority Selection picks Jeremiah Addison, Brandon Prophet, and Dylan Sadowy as signed prospects for Saginaw.
Congrats, Andrey!