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Episode · 7 months ago

Exclusive Interview (Mike Gempeler) | Episode 73

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On this week's episode of the #EShow we chat with Mike Gempeler, the Founder and Director of the CCM Showcase in Westminster, CO. The annual event takes place over Memorial Day Weekend and brings together over 400 players and 150 scouts. The EHL will be well-represented once again this weekend, with teams throughout the EHL and EHLP heading out in search of players to bring back to the east coast.

Welcome to the e show with NeilRaven. With over onezero NCAA commitments, the ehl is the proven path tocollege. Turn it up and learn more about the college placement leader at thedivision two and three levels. Welcome to the east show, presented by thepenalty box foundation. The foundation's mission centers around their daily motto we take careof our own, as they help out all of those within the hockey communitywho've experienced a castrophic event. I'll learn more at penalty box foundation dot Org. What's up? My name is Neil Raven and this is episode number seventythree of the e show on on. This week's episode feature an exclusive interviewwith Mike Gempler, the founder and director of the CCM showcase in Westminster,Colorado. The annual event takes place over Memorial Day weekend and brings together overfour hundred players and a hundred and fifty scouts. The EHL will be wellrepresented once again this weekend, with teams throughout the EHL and EH LP headingout in searchs of players to bring back to the east coast, joined nowby Mike Gempler, the founder and director of the CCM showcase, where I'mheading this weekend. How's it going, Mike? Good, great. Thanksfor having neal and thanks for coming on the podcast and thanks for putting onthis weekend's event. Once again, this is, I think, my thirdyear coming up coming out to Denver aviously. We have a bunch of teams comingout there as well. How long has the CCM showcase been taking placefor? This is the eleventh year. In Two thousand and twenty one we'vebeen running it in at the Ice Center, at the promenade and Westminster, whichis a northern suburb of Denver, the moment, all day weekend everyyear for the last eleven years. And what changes in adjustments have you madeover those eleven years to turn it into the event that it is today?You know, a couple of simple things, nothing major. You know, wetried to do the on ice testing,...

...which really didn't go well. Youknow, I'm a big believer in that on ice testing where they getthe lasers out and everything, you know, on the course of a season,where you can test a kid at the beginning in at the end,but in our environment it really didn't make sense. We actually heard feedback directlyfrom the coaches saying, you know, we don't look at that data.What the coaches really wanted were more chances to meet the kids and watch thekids, whether that's, you know, all Star Games are goalie sessions or, you know, some things we've added like the meet and greet, whichhas become incredibly popular, stuff like that. And then another little tweak we didthanks to covid. I don't know how many things got better because ofCovid, but this, it'll tweak certainly helped. Was We've moved the faceto face meetings outdoors. And you've never been a Colorado and may you knowit's a beautiful place to be. So now you see all around the Iguess the lobby outside the rink and out front all the coaches meeting with playersin their families. That's a really cool scene as well. And of courselast year you actually have to take the at have the event in July becauseof the way that everything played itself out, but I got to see all thosefacetoface meetings in person. They're taking place outside. When those meetings startedto take place, obviously the challenging times that we were in being able topull off the event was that the moment when you realize, all right,we actually did pull this off, when you got to see all those meetingstake place right in front of you. Well, that was certainly gratifying becausethat's what people are there for, you know, to get seen and getnoticed, get the exposure, meet the junior coaches when of course the coachesneed to beat the players. But yeah, even I mean we had a bigscare of the night before in terms of mass mandate's coming down from thegovernor. So I'm not sure if it hit me when I was watching thepeople are outside or actually when we got through the final all star game rightmaybe we took a breath. That said, holy Cowie pulled it off in thecar ride home. So yeah, exactly. You mentioned eleven years ofthe event. For me, obviously I pointed out this is my third yearcoming out, but we've had teams coming it seems like forever since I've atleast joined the league. Where have you...

...seen the most growth in the eventand do you have a vision to try and make it bigger and longer,or do you feel the current structure that you have kind of maximizes the valueof the overall event? You know, that's a good question, grop you. We've been full for eight of eleven years, you know. So ifanything, it's sells out earlier and earlier every year. So maybe that's theplace where we see the molt growth, most growth just with the interest infront level from people, in the fact that people are registering so soon.Technically we could take more kids to make it bigger and longer. We've gotover a hundred kids on the waylist right now. But to be honest,in my opinion the least that would dilute the product. You know, wedon't need a six or seven day event. We don't need four hundred coaches andeight hundred kids. We just need the kids that you know are thereto get more looks and to get that exposure that they need without diluting theproduct. And there's so many events that players have the chance to partake inin the summer. Do you think that by having more of a, don'twant to say a smaller pool, because foreigner players are still a lot ofplayers, but by having, you know, maybe a smaller can't because of that, does that make the event that much bigger, making it more quoteunquote selective? Well, I certainly think so. You know, over theyears I've been asked by a couple of different cities east of us, youknow, to bring another showcase out there just because of the success we've hadDenver, and I think what you what you've mentioned, is spot on.What's the point of having two events if it's going to dilute the two whenyou can, you know, stick with the weekend you've built in, thereputation you built around that weekend and just make sure put all your efforts intomaking that the best event possible. Yep, and I want to go back tolast year again because, as I mentioned, you had to push itoff to July. I'm as you mentioned, you always have it on the holidayweek and in May, but you had to push it off to Julyand I know that leading up to it you were a little bit nervous.We had a few texts. You were...

...anxious at times. How important wasn'tfor you that, no matter what, you pulled off the event? Yeah, last year it was tough, but you know, I'm certainly not theonly person in that boat. It was great. It was very gratifying topull it off. The leading up to it there were, you know,it was a roller coaster. I mean you get one message one day atone the next, but it was so great to pull off. I mean, yes, the kids needed the exposure, they needed the scutting. The teamsneeded a chance to find kids because people were limited on how much theycould travel. So I think from a hockey side, I think it's prettyobvious why it was important to pull it off. What really struck me wasthe interpersonal side of things. You know these kids, these poor kids.You know they're schooling at home or at that time actually last year, theyweren't in school at all. There's no hockey, there's no activities. Theyare really stuck to in limited in their travel with the shutdown. So Ithink it comes down to you kind of help and wellness of the kids,just getting them out there and seeing their friends again and being able to play. You know, I can't tell you how many families reached out afterwards tothank us for our efforts, and the efforts had nothing to do with theirkid getting on a team. It really was it. It was thanks forpulling this off and giving my kid an outlet to participate in the game.You loves, over the course of the weekend and now you fast forward tothis weekend coming up and I you know, as I've said on our podcast before, covid it's not over yet. I know there's a feeling that we'returning the corner around the country, different conversation, but there are still anyhurdles or obstacles that you need to jump through in the state of Colorado thepull off the event this weekend? It's a great question with many answers basedon the day you ask me. You know, if you don't, ifwe had done this before. You know, couple weeks ago there were still alot of hurdles, but I'll be honest. You know, the Mayfifteen mandate came out in the state of Colorados lifted the mass mandates as wellas really relax the indoor participant in spectator requirements. So we are almost backto hundred percent normal for this year's evench...

...events, which I wouldn't believe evenprobably even two or three weeks ago. And I think that's interesting because youpointed out earlier that you prefer to have the meeting greet with the players nowoutside, but now that restrictions are quote unquote ease and things seem normal asthere ever, the feeling like we should just revert back to the old wayor keep sticking with that outdoor meeting because it's actually the better logistical concept forthe event. Well, I still I think people will probably fall back intoold ruts because that's what we've done forever. But knew this year I am goingto include, like we did last year, the players cell phone inthe scout books. So every coach and scout that the tends the showcase forthe benefit, for the intention of scouting the event and meeting kids, theywill have that cell phone number and I will be heavily encouraging everyone to reachout via cell phone set up the meeting outside via the cell phone in atext, as opposed who chased in the middle locker rooms or down hallways.So it may take a year, two or three to get there fully,but I think. I mean I've already had coaches reach out and ask ifthat was the plan because they really liked it. So they're definitely will besome adoptions this year. How early in the year, because we're obviously inMay now. The how early in two thousand and twenty one do junior coachesstart reaching out to you with trying to get the early details, if theyif I will for the for the event, I would say the earliest would beJanuary of next year. Okay, you know, I'll get a coupletrickling in a January and February and then I send us save the date emailto all the coaches on my list and that's kind of the first motification I'mgoing after that, of course they started emailing all the time and then Iget looking forward to this weekend's event. You mentioned the the meeting. Great, you mentioned the Games that take place in the All Star Games. Thatkind of put a bull on things when...

Nalla said and done. Will wehaven't touched on yet are the seminars on Saturday night, where I've actually hadthe chance to participate last year as well. How important have adding those set upseminars been to the the overall event, the value of the event? Youknow, I think it's one of the most important parts of the weekendbecause this is a chance for parents to get the questions they have answered.You know, every kid is going to talk to a coach. That's findingdandy. That's the whole purpose of it, but that doesn't help the parents.So and a lot of kids still struggle with the too. But justthe basics that we cover and really what we have come our Saturday night seminarshad morphed into what we call the junior hockey round table and it's really aQA. It's a chance for all those parents that are too shy or toask questions or don't actually have someone to ask for questions, to come andget that out in a Qa type environment. Yeah, and I love when youhave the microphone walking around the room because he's always say you know,now is a pretty good time. They're all right in front of you andI set up front there and there's is always an ehl coach or two withme, but you try and mix it up with coaches and representing this fromall the different leagues. Why is that so important to you to have allthe different leagues up there in front of everyone? Well, I think thefirst thing would be because each league is you know, a lot of leagueshave different governing bodies, so that's one thing that is really confusing people rightnow. I think the the next thing would be there the confusion, ormaybe the unknowns between a paytoplay league and a free league. What are thoseteams offer? There's either or not. You know, this may seem normalfuss, but in the general sense the whole tier one, tier two,tier three thing is foreign two people. So it's really good to have awide range. You don't want to get one league up there, one persondominating a conversation and sell two hundred people in the ballroom about that league.And I get it, that's their job,...

...but it's also good to hear thatanswer from every league available. And I know that you mentioned who weretalking offline, but for those that are listening at home, obviously you havethe group that's up front there with the round table, but how many totalscouts and how many different organizations, junior leagues and etc. Do you bringin on an annual basis the event? We always have between a hundred ahundred and fifty five coaches and scouts at the event. Hundred fifty five benare Max that's why that number, but we always have that many and it'severy single junior league in the United States and I would say half the juniorleagues in Canada, and I say half because it'll be the ones that arejust north of us. You know, we're not going to get a teamfrom que back, or probably not Ontario, but we'll get the BCHL, theAJHL, the SJ, that the tier two clubs or leagues straight northof us. And I you know, of course there's an asterisk with that. It's when the boarder allows this. Sure we have, I think wehave to BCHL and to Aj simply because they have American based scouts. Weyes, none of those coaches can get down here right now. Actually theycan get down here, they can't get them back. That's a challenge.But back to thee the seminars for a second. Is there an overall messageor two that you want people to walk out of the room with on Saturdaynight? Yeah, yeah, you know, the two points that I like todrive home, or make sure the coaches on stage drive all of thatevery parents and players hears, are one take your time. This is along road. You know, I like to joke that if you're fourteen orfifteen and have not been quote unquote recruited yet, it's not a big deal. There is no reason to panic. You know need to panic. Yougot a long road ahead of you. Remember, you're going to play untilyour twenty. So is it's smart to come to events like this and tocome to seminars and listen to this?...

Yes, but please take your time. There is no rush. You have a long road ahead of you.And then the other thing that this was not my opinion this this is onething I like to take that I hear every single year from every single coachon the board, is make sure the person that is driving this train,the one that is reaching out to coaches and giving any emails and making phonecalled its blessing their interest in their team, is the player. This stuff hasto come from the player. It can't come from the pair. Thecoach does not want to hear I'm sorry, receive an email that starts at hercoach, come about my son Dott I completely agree. Yep, theSun needs to be the driving force period, and I think that's such a goodpoint because ultimately it's a player that's going to be playing the hockey,wherever that may be, all across the country, whether it's in the EHshell or any of the other leagues that are out there this week. Forone final point, whenever I come out there I find that I tell asimilar story very consistently and often throughout every weekend and I'm out there and thatstory is of Blake bride and you just said a second ago. Take yourtime, and Blake Brides a player that participated in your event and then cameto the EHL for a season, went to the North American Hockey League fora season and then went to the USA Shell for a season and of coursenow is back home in Colorado at the Air Force Academy Playing Division One CollegeHockey, because he mastered each level before he rushed, if you will,quote unquote, to that next step. Obviously, I know he's not yourson, but he played in your events. When you see a player have successlike that, does it give you an extra, you know, doseof pride to see to see him have that success? Oh Yeah, youlove stories like that and every coach has countless stories, but sadly not asmany as they like. But those are...

...the stories you remember forever, youknow, and that is exactly why the various leagues and the very levels areset up. You're not going to go from seventeen years old to the NCAA'sit just doesn't happen. So you have to work your way up and youhave to embrace the ladder, as USA hockey called it. Embrace the stepsand the effort that it takes and you will be rewarded. Your shirt cutand I have a feat. I mean I love that story. I thinkI've told it probably twenty five times a year of N and I'll probably tellher the perfect story to tell. I'll probably tell another five times or sothis weekend coming up for obviously I'm excited about this week and, as Imentioned, this is the third year that I've been coming out there. Forthose that are listening to this, I think we have seven or eight ofour teams in our league coming out there as well. It's a full schedulefor all the players, over four hundred players. Something that I look forwardto every year. And Mike, I appreciate you coming on the podcast andwe'll see you later this week out in Westminster. You've had in the old. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. Thanks for listening to the show.Learn more at Eastern Hockey League Dot Org and follow us on Facebook,twitter, instagram and Youtube. Also, be sure to subscribe and get notifiedwhen next week's PODCAST is released.

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