When Carter Horwitz arrived at Minnesota Hockey Camps, he quickly realized it would be an unforgettable experience.
Nevermind the fact that Horwitz didn’t own hockey socks, and wasn’t even aware that shoulder pads were a part of the game. He had travelled all the way from Hawaii, and he was ready.
Thanks to a camper who had left equipment in weeks prior, Horwitz strapped on the spare pads and took his brand new skates out of the box.
“They were as dull as can be,” Horwitz said. “But I was out there having a blast, getting my first real taste of ice hockey and everything it would take.”
The California native wasn’t completely unfamiliar to the game. He had grown up playing roller hockey, and eventually decided to take a stab at ice hockey while his family was living in Hawaii—a move they made when Horwitz was in elementary school.
Before Horwitz reached high school, his family left the tropical paradise and moved back to the mainland. He and his family began emailing hockey teams in the area, but realized the chances of Horwitz joining a team were slim. Tryouts were held in June, and it was already August.
He landed a last-minute tryout with LA Hockey Club, but was told he’d have to work hard if he even wanted playing time.
“I showed up for the first day, and I was, by far, the worst kid on the ice,” Horwitz said. “I just really, really wanted to be there and play.
Horwitz continued to spend his summers at Minnesota Hockey Camps, and transformed his game. He went from being the worst kid on the ice to a Division III hockey player.
Now a sophomore defenseman at Endicott College, Horwitz also spent time playing at Shattuck St. Mary’s, the NAHL and with other teams.
“I had gotten exponentially better each summer,” Horwitz said. “I would go back to Minnesota Hockey Camps every summer and continue to see improvements.”
So much, in fact, that Horwitz became known for his incredible speed and garnered the nickname ‘Flyin’ Hawaiian’ from camp staff.
At first, fellow campers had a hard time believing Horwitz had come all the way from Hawaii. But for him, simply being at the camp had turned his dreams into realities.
During one of his first summers, Horwitz remembers seeing NHL star Scott Hartnell, and couldn’t help but ask for an autograph.
When Horwitz witnessed NHL players at the camp doing the same workouts he was doing, something in his mind changed.
“I realized that the best people at that camp take it very seriously,” Horwitz said. “That’s when it clicked in my brain that hockey is fun, but it’s hard work. In order to continue to grow, you have to do what nobody else does, which is what that camp does. Nobody trains more efficiently and more effectively than when you’re at that camp.”
Horwitz recognizes his achievements, but knows there’s always room for improvement, and work to be done year round.
In order to hone in on those developments, he knows there’s no better place than Minnesota Hockey Camps.
“As soon as you walk in that big sliding door, and you enter the gym area, something in your mind clicks and it’s business time,” Horwitz said. “That’s when the work is laid out for the rest of the year … There’s a feeling that I owe it to myself because of how far I’ve come and how far I want to go.”