The Junior Experience is a new series that features the same set of questions to a wide range of players. Their responses are very interesting and will give prospective junior hockey a bit of insight to the game...and level of play.
The series opens with young defenseman Cameron Smith who played this last season with Suffolk.
JuniorHockey.com: How did you get introduced to the game?
CS: I started playing roller hockey when I was three. I first put on roller blades when I was 18 months old, and ice skates when I was about 4 years old. My dad played roller hockey, so that's how I was first introduced to the game.
JuniorHockey.com: At what point did the family realize how serious your talent was?
CS: I think once they saw me take off on my roller blades when I was a baby, they knew that this was something I was going to be good at. They had to wait until I was three to put me on a team, and even then, I was a year younger than everyone else. Since then, I've usually played with kids older than me because the skill level was better.
JuniorHockey.com: From that point, how long did it take for the junior coaches to start calling?
CS: The way I made the Juniors team was by going to their open tryouts. I couldn't wait to play for them, and as soon as I turned 15, I tried out for the first season that I could, and I was offered a contract during those tryouts. I skipped the Midgets just so that I could get my start in juniors.
JuniorHockey.com: Junior hockey can be very expensive, how was your family able to cope with the heavy expense?
CS: My Dad works two jobs and my Mom increased her hours so that she works full time now. We haven't gone away on a family vacation in a couple of years either, so that we could pay for hockey.
JuniorHockey.com: In retrospect, did your junior experience meet or even exceed your expectations?
CS: It's exceeded it. I knew I would like it, but I really had a great time in my first year of junior hockey, and I'm excited to move up again this year and have even better challenges.
JuniorHockey.com: How did the experience prepare you for the next levels in your career?
CS: I've definitely worked on my conditioning more, because I know this level of hockey requires a lot of strength and endurance. Some of the players I'm up against are 4 years older, and a lot of times a lot bigger than me. So, even though I'm pretty strong now, I'm working on building up my strength and stamina even more, along with my speed.
JuniorHockey.com: Imagine for a moment that you are standing in a auditorium with 2,000 high level 17 year-old prospects. What would you like to say to them about the junior hockey experience?
CS: I would tell them it'll be one of the best times of their lives. You and your teammates become a family. And the coaches treat you like an adult. Junior Hockey is a great experience.
Prospects that would like to be featured in this series, should answer the same questions as Cameron and email to firstname.lastname@example.org , please also attach a decent large format jpg image.