Taking Liberties With… Carson Kelley
Position: Forward, Lone Star Brahmas (North American Hockey League)
Hometown: Portola Valley
California Youth Teams: San Jose Jr. Sharks
California Rubber: You not only were part of winning the Robertson Cup, but you did it with three other players from California. How special was that?
Carson Kelley: Winning with the California guys was an unbelievable feeling. I knew David Marabella growing up because we played together on the Jr. Sharks. I knew Alex Stoley from when he played in the East Bay for Golden State Elite, and I met up with him in the summers and skated. And Hunter Stanley was a huge part of our success.
CR: What is the most challenging aspect of playing junior hockey?
CK: The grind of the season. We played every weekend besides Christmas from August to May. Just maintaining your body is a full-time job you don’t get paid for. You’re living away from home for a long time, but you have to have self-control. We played 70-something games. I’ll play 28 next year.
CR: Did any parts of the postseason stand out leading up to the championship?
CK: We were down a game to Corpus Christi, 2-1, in a best-of-5 series, and down 2-1 in that game. I scored the tying goal late in the third period and we won 30 seconds into overtime. In Game 5 I assisted on the overtime winner. We went into the final four believing we could win it, and we went 3-0 and did it.
CR: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
CK: When our Jr. Sharks Pee Wee team went to the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. We stayed for two weeks for that and played in the Coliseum and an outdoor arena. You stayed with a French family there. You got really involved in the culture and that opened my eyes to the world a young age.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
CK: I’m the only one in my family ever to play. I started playing really young and I was hooked. I idolized (Sharks captain) Joe Pavelski. He’s American born, played through juniors and went to college. He’s truly inspiring. He’s gritty. He’s not the best skater, but he plays with a big heart.
CR: Who have been the biggest influences on you, on and off the ice?
CK: My father has always inspired me to be my best. He allowed me to have these opportunities that a lot of people don’t have. It’s shaped me into the person and player I’ve become. And our Lone Star assistant, Al Rooney. He moved out on his own at a young age to keep pursuing his dream. He played college and pro hockey. It’s inspiring that he followed his dream and it paid off for him.
CR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
CK: I played all the sports going up. In high school, they didn’t count my ice hockey for credit, so I played tennis, water polo and swimming. It was a lot to juggle, but it was a nice break from hockey. I also played Little League baseball, AYSO soccer and did travel swimming. I like all the board sports – snowboarding at Tahoe, surfing near the coast.
CR: Are there are any pieces of gear you’re particular about?
CK: I like to keep my gloves from over the years. I used to have small black gloves, then teal Sharks gloves and green ones from Dallas and my ones from junior. I’ll keep them for my man cave. I also have all my broken sticks. Maybe I’ll build something out of them one day.
CR: What are essential items to take on a bus trip?
CK: A pillow and headphones because the boys can get pretty rowdy on the bus, and I’m a big sleeper and a big music guy. Those 7-, 8- hour trips to Topeka and Corpus Christi don’t fly by.
CR: What sort of music do you like?
CK: Pretty much anything, from classic rock to modern rap to Frank Sinatra. When I’d get dressed for home games, I’d listen to him and it calmed me down. My billet family would ask me, “Are you listening to Frank Sinatra?” Not many people were into it like I was.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
CK: Alice’s near my house. It’s in the woods. On one side, it’s the ocean and the other side, there’s the Bay. You’re surrounded by big redwoods, but if you take a short walk, you can see water.
CR: You’ve committed to play hockey in college at SUNY-Geneseo. What was the draw there?
CK: The balance of education and good hockey. I did a ton of research. It’s one of the best Division III atmospheres you can get. It seems similar to Lone Star, which I really enjoyed. It’s a hidden gem for its price. I’m trying to be a Business major. I’ll experience a real winter for the first time.
– Compiled by Chris Bayee