Rocco Carzo IV is, by his own admission, in the best shape of his life.
And he hasn’t left his Blue Springs basement.
Well, the former Kansas City Mavericks captain has left his basement, but when it comes to training, inspiration and hard work, Carzo’s RC4 Online Virtual Training sessions continue to grow at a rate he can’t believe.
"I can’t hit the ice, but I can go downstairs and offer online training, so that’s what I’m doing," said Carzo, a leader in many Mavericks career categories who retired following the most recent abbreviated season.
"You know me, I can’t stand still, and when all the coronavirus quarantine stuff hit, I was wondering, ‘What am I going to do without being able to go on the ice?’ I had some kids lined up for one-on-one lessons and some group stuff and I needed to make some money, you know, to put food on the table."
So he began brainstorming and came up with the idea of online virtual sessions.
"When this started, I thought I might have a handful of campers and it would take three or four hours a week," Carzo said. "Maybe do one or two sessions a week, to just see what would happen."
Well, five campers soon grew to 35, which grew to more than 100 and now, four weeks into the training sessions, he has more than 245 campers and is training them 3-7 p.m. three days a week with a personal Zoom session on Fridays.
They feature his former Maverick teammates and NHL players like Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary, Carzo’s roommate when they attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
"I like to have guys who have an inspirational story, no first-round draft picks, but guys who have a strong work ethic and have made it to the pros," Carzo said. "And the campers really enjoy their stories."
When he isn’t interviewing his friends in the pro ranks, Carzo is working up a sweat in his basement.
"Man, I’ve just been working in my basement and I’m in the best shape of my life," he said, chuckling. "And the crazy thing is we have about 100 local kids, then we have kids from (my hometown of) Philadelphia, Delaware, Jersey – all over the place.
"And we work hard – but I’m still just a kid at heart and I have more fun than anyone. I want kids to walk away from this saying I had fun and I learned a lot of hockey. And we’re doing it all without any ice."
While Carzo plans on spending the summer in Eastern Jackson County, he plans to one day move back home to Philadelphia, where he and his father, Rocco Carzo III, are going to become business partners.
They purchased the skating rink where young Carzo first started skating, and it comes with a gymnasium.
"It will be called the RC4 Hockey Facility and my dad is going to do the business stuff and I’m going to be doing the training and teaching," Carzo said with a touch of pride in his voice. "Everyone out here knows how much I respect and love my dad – everyone who meets him loves the guy – and I can’t wait to be his business partner. And to own the rink where I started skating is like a dream come true.
"We already have more than 50 teams that want to book ice time from squirts to college teams. We’re going spruce up the gym, make it a place anyone would be proud to work out in, and see what happens."
Carzo said he also wants to teach kids about more than just the ins and outs of hockey.
"I want the kids to learn about hockey, but more importantly, I want them to learn about life," he said. "Right now, I want them to learn a work ethic and how to become better citizens.
"Those are things my dad and my coaches taught me, and I want to teach kids the same things. Right now, we’re doing it all virtually – and soon, we’ll get back on the ice. And I can’t wait for that day."
There are still slots open for Carzo’s RC4 Online Virtual Training sessions. Go to rc4hockey.com to get more information.