THE #ESHOW
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Episode · 1 year 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 Neil Raven. With over onezero NCAA commitments, the ehl is the proven path to college. Turn it up and learn more about the college placement leader at the division two and three levels. Welcome to the east show, presented by the penalty box foundation. The foundation's mission centers around their daily motto we take care of our own, as they help out all of those within the hockey community who'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 seventy three of the e show on on. This week's episode feature an exclusive interview with 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 over four hundred players and a hundred and fifty scouts. The EHL will be well represented once again this weekend, with teams throughout the EHL and EH LP heading out in searchs of players to bring back to the east coast, joined now by Mike Gempler, the founder and director of the CCM showcase, where I'm heading this weekend. How's it going, Mike? Good, great. Thanks for having neal and thanks for coming on the podcast and thanks for putting on this weekend's event. Once again, this is, I think, my third year coming up coming out to Denver aviously. We have a bunch of teams coming out there as well. How long has the CCM showcase been taking place for? This is the eleventh year. In Two thousand and twenty one we've been running it in at the Ice Center, at the promenade and Westminster, which is a northern suburb of Denver, the moment, all day weekend every year for the last eleven years. And what changes in adjustments have you made over those eleven years to turn it into the event that it is today? You know, a couple of simple things, nothing major. You know, we tried to do the on ice testing,...

...which really didn't go well. You know, I'm a big believer in that on ice testing where they get the 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 directly from 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 the kids, whether that's, you know, all Star Games are goalie sessions or, you know, some things we've added like the meet and greet, which has become incredibly popular, stuff like that. And then another little tweak we did thanks to covid. I don't know how many things got better because of Covid, but this, it'll tweak certainly helped. Was We've moved the face to face meetings outdoors. And you've never been a Colorado and may you know it's a beautiful place to be. So now you see all around the I guess the lobby outside the rink and out front all the coaches meeting with players in their families. That's a really cool scene as well. And of course last year you actually have to take the at have the event in July because of the way that everything played itself out, but I got to see all those facetoface meetings in person. They're taking place outside. When those meetings started to take place, obviously the challenging times that we were in being able to pull 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 meetings take place right in front of you. Well, that was certainly gratifying because that's what people are there for, you know, to get seen and get noticed, get the exposure, meet the junior coaches when of course the coaches need to beat the players. But yeah, even I mean we had a big scare of the night before in terms of mass mandate's coming down from the governor. So I'm not sure if it hit me when I was watching the people are outside or actually when we got through the final all star game right maybe we took a breath. That said, holy Cowie pulled it off in the car ride home. So yeah, exactly. You mentioned eleven years of the event. For me, obviously I pointed out this is my third year coming out, but we've had teams coming it seems like forever since I've at least joined the league. Where have you...

...seen the most growth in the event and 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 value of the overall event? You know, that's a good question, grop you. We've been full for eight of eleven years, you know. So if anything, it's sells out earlier and earlier every year. So maybe that's the place where we see the molt growth, most growth just with the interest in front 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 got over a hundred kids on the waylist right now. But to be honest, in my opinion the least that would dilute the product. You know, we don't need a six or seven day event. We don't need four hundred coaches and eight hundred kids. We just need the kids that you know are there to get more looks and to get that exposure that they need without diluting the product. And there's so many events that players have the chance to partake in in the summer. Do you think that by having more of a, don't want to say a smaller pool, because foreigner players are still a lot of players, but by having, you know, maybe a smaller can't because of that, does that make the event that much bigger, making it more quote unquote selective? Well, I certainly think so. You know, over the years I've been asked by a couple of different cities east of us, you know, to bring another showcase out there just because of the success we've had Denver, 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 when you can, you know, stick with the weekend you've built in, the reputation you built around that weekend and just make sure put all your efforts into making that the best event possible. Yep, and I want to go back to last year again because, as I mentioned, you had to push it off to July. I'm as you mentioned, you always have it on the holiday week and in May, but you had to push it off to July and 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't for you that, no matter what, you pulled off the event? Yeah, last year it was tough, but you know, I'm certainly not the only person in that boat. It was great. It was very gratifying to pull it off. The leading up to it there were, you know, it was a roller coaster. I mean you get one message one day at one the next, but it was so great to pull off. I mean, yes, the kids needed the exposure, they needed the scutting. The teams needed a chance to find kids because people were limited on how much they could travel. So I think from a hockey side, I think it's pretty obvious why it was important to pull it off. What really struck me was the 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, they weren't in school at all. There's no hockey, there's no activities. They are really stuck to in limited in their travel with the shutdown. So I think 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 to thank us for our efforts, and the efforts had nothing to do with their kid getting on a team. It really was it. It was thanks for pulling 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 to this 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're turning the corner around the country, different conversation, but there are still any hurdles or obstacles that you need to jump through in the state of Colorado the pull off the event this weekend? It's a great question with many answers based on the day you ask me. You know, if you don't, if we had done this before. You know, couple weeks ago there were still a lot of hurdles, but I'll be honest. You know, the May fifteen mandate came out in the state of Colorados lifted the mass mandates as well as really relax the indoor participant in spectator requirements. So we are almost back to hundred percent normal for this year's evench...

...events, which I wouldn't believe even probably even two or three weeks ago. And I think that's interesting because you pointed out earlier that you prefer to have the meeting greet with the players now outside, but now that restrictions are quote unquote ease and things seem normal as there ever, the feeling like we should just revert back to the old way or keep sticking with that outdoor meeting because it's actually the better logistical concept for the event. Well, I still I think people will probably fall back into old ruts because that's what we've done forever. But knew this year I am going to include, like we did last year, the players cell phone in the scout books. So every coach and scout that the tends the showcase for the benefit, for the intention of scouting the event and meeting kids, they will have that cell phone number and I will be heavily encouraging everyone to reach out via cell phone set up the meeting outside via the cell phone in a text, 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 if that was the plan because they really liked it. So they're definitely will be some adoptions this year. How early in the year, because we're obviously in May now. The how early in two thousand and twenty one do junior coaches start reaching out to you with trying to get the early details, if they if I will for the for the event, I would say the earliest would be January of next year. Okay, you know, I'll get a couple trickling in a January and February and then I send us save the date email to all the coaches on my list and that's kind of the first motification I'm going after that, of course they started emailing all the time and then I get 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. That kind of put a bull on things when...

Nalla said and done. Will we haven't touched on yet are the seminars on Saturday night, where I've actually had the chance to participate last year as well. How important have adding those set up seminars been to the the overall event, the value of the event? You know, I think it's one of the most important parts of the weekend because 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 finding dandy. 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 just the basics that we cover and really what we have come our Saturday night seminars had morphed into what we call the junior hockey round table and it's really a QA. It's a chance for all those parents that are too shy or to ask questions or don't actually have someone to ask for questions, to come and get that out in a Qa type environment. Yeah, and I love when you have 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 and I set up front there and there's is always an ehl coach or two with me, but you try and mix it up with coaches and representing this from all the different leagues. Why is that so important to you to have all the different leagues up there in front of everyone? Well, I think the first thing would be because each league is you know, a lot of leagues have different governing bodies, so that's one thing that is really confusing people right now. I think the the next thing would be there the confusion, or maybe the unknowns between a paytoplay league and a free league. What are those teams offer? There's either or not. You know, this may seem normal fuss, 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 a wide range. You don't want to get one league up there, one person dominating 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 that answer from every league available. And I know that you mentioned who were talking offline, but for those that are listening at home, obviously you have the group that's up front there with the round table, but how many total scouts and how many different organizations, junior leagues and etc. Do you bring in on an annual basis the event? We always have between a hundred a hundred and fifty five coaches and scouts at the event. Hundred fifty five ben are Max that's why that number, but we always have that many and it's every single junior league in the United States and I would say half the junior leagues in Canada, and I say half because it'll be the ones that are just north of us. You know, we're not going to get a team from que back, or probably not Ontario, but we'll get the BCHL, the AJHL, the SJ, that the tier two clubs or leagues straight north of 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 we have to BCHL and to Aj simply because they have American based scouts. We yes, none of those coaches can get down here right now. Actually they can 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 message or two that you want people to walk out of the room with on Saturday night? Yeah, yeah, you know, the two points that I like to drive home, or make sure the coaches on stage drive all of that every parents and players hears, are one take your time. This is a long road. You know, I like to joke that if you're fourteen or fifteen 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. You got a long road ahead of you. Remember, you're going to play until your twenty. So is it's smart to come to events like this and to come 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 one thing I like to take that I hear every single year from every single coach on 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 phone called its blessing their interest in their team, is the player. This stuff has to come from the player. It can't come from the pair. The coach does not want to hear I'm sorry, receive an email that starts at her coach, come about my son Dott I completely agree. Yep, the Sun needs to be the driving force period, and I think that's such a good point 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 EH shell or any of the other leagues that are out there this week. For one final point, whenever I come out there I find that I tell a similar story very consistently and often throughout every weekend and I'm out there and that story is of Blake bride and you just said a second ago. Take your time, and Blake Brides a player that participated in your event and then came to the EHL for a season, went to the North American Hockey League for a season and then went to the USA Shell for a season and of course now is back home in Colorado at the Air Force Academy Playing Division One College Hockey, because he mastered each level before he rushed, if you will, quote unquote, to that next step. Obviously, I know he's not your son, but he played in your events. When you see a player have success like that, does it give you an extra, you know, dose of pride to see to see him have that success? Oh Yeah, you love stories like that and every coach has countless stories, but sadly not as many as they like. But those are...

...the stories you remember forever, you know, and that is exactly why the various leagues and the very levels are set up. You're not going to go from seventeen years old to the NCAA's it just doesn't happen. So you have to work your way up and you have to embrace the ladder, as USA hockey called it. Embrace the steps and the effort that it takes and you will be rewarded. Your shirt cut and I have a feat. I mean I love that story. I think I've told it probably twenty five times a year of N and I'll probably tell her the perfect story to tell. I'll probably tell another five times or so this weekend coming up for obviously I'm excited about this week and, as I mentioned, this is the third year that I've been coming out there. For those that are listening to this, I think we have seven or eight of our teams in our league coming out there as well. It's a full schedule for all the players, over four hundred players. Something that I look forward to every year. And Mike, I appreciate you coming on the podcast and we'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 notified when next week's PODCAST is released.

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