Kolton Ash rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday with a smile on his face.
The young goaltender who lives in Topeka, Kansas, couldn’t wait to make the trek east to Independence, so he could participate in the second day of Josh Robinson’s Elite Goalies High Performance Camp at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Robinson is the record-breaking Kansas City Mavericks goaltender who enjoyed the most successful regular season in team history in 2015-2016, as he won a league record 21 games in a row, finished with a 28-2-1 overall record and a microscopic 1.88 goals-against average.
Now, he is a premier coach who wants to give something back to the community and fans who have embraced him since he arrived on the scene three years ago.
“I have so much fun working with Josh,” said Ash, 11, after Tuesday’s morning session. “I have fun, but I’m learning a lot, too – like where I need to be on the post, and things like that.”
Robinson just grinned at the young man’s comments.
But Ash isn’t the only member of the camp who is making a great effort to learn from Robinson.
Alex Rice, who also takes private lessons from Robinson, is heading south from his home in Maryville, Missouri, to participate in the camp.
“It’s fun, and he is a great coach,” Alex said.
“We live in Maryville,” added his mother, Sarah, “but Alex plays on a hockey team in St. Joseph, (Missouri), so we’re lucky to be staying with some friends – so we don’t have to make quite as long of a trip. But Alex loves working with Josh so much, he’d wake up in the middle of the night to get down here.
“Josh just has a great way of working with kids. They learn so much, and he makes them all feel special.”
This is the first year Robinson, who lives in the metro area year-round, has conducted his own camp.
And the most successful goaltender in the history of the Mavericks wants to let everyone in on a little secret. He’s having as much fun as his campers.
“I love it,” Robinson said, after a spirited contest in which skaters attempted close-range shots to end the morning session. “I can’t say if I have more fun playing, or coaching, because I love both of them. It’s so special to play for an organization like the Mavericks.
“But it’s also special to be with the young goalies we have in our camp. They work so hard and pay attention and do everything you ask. And when you see that light bulb go off – and you know they’re getting what you’re telling them – well, that’s a special moment.”
While there is plenty of time on the ice, working on special skills to give them an edge when they begin playing again, Robinson also stresses self esteem, confidence and mental preparation – all tools that helped him enjoy a historic season.
While he has been offered a qualifying contract by the team, he’s not letting anyone in on his future plans.
“I know what I’m going to do,” Robinson said, “but I’m not ready to say right now.”