Taking Liberties With… Robby Jackson
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Position: Forward, San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
Last Amateur Team: St. Cloud State University (NCHC, NCAA Division I)
Youth Teams: Oakland Bears, Berkeley Bulldogs, Santa Clara Blackhawks, LA Selects, LA Jr. Kings
California Rubber: You made your pro debut with San Antonio in the spring and this summer attended your fourth NHL prospect camp in St. Louis (two in San Jose and one in Montreal previously). How did that go?
Robby Jackson: It went really well. There was a lot of buzz in St. Louis, obviously. You could feel the energy that whole city has for the Blues. I’m glad I got to see that. There was a big group of college guys there, specifically from the NCHC, so we tried to play together on the ice and hang out off the ice. My first couple years in San Jose, I didn’t really know anyone else. In Montreal, there were a few of my St. Cloud teammates. This year, a couple of my San Antonio teammates were there and guys I knew. It takes the pressure off. You have more confidence to make plays and shoot the puck.
CR: And you ran into a familiar face from Northern California there.
RJ: Yeah, (longtime San Jose Jr. Shark and NCHC rival) Tyson McLellan. It’s funny. You never really know how development camps are going to go. You battle against these guys for your school, then you have to go be friends with them for a week. I had to feel things out. Were we going to be friends this week or was I going to be off in the corner by myself? Tyson and I reminisced about playing as kids in NorCal, so we had that bond.
CR: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
RJ: My first year of Bantams (2011) with Santa Clara, we won state and took home silver at the national championships in Buffalo. That was pretty special. We didn’t even know if we were going to be a AA team at the beginning of the year. We upset the California Wave for the CAHA title. I scored my first goal at Oakland. Playing in Berkeley before that rink closed. We won state my first year of Pee Wee with Santa Clara. Winning state championships. There are a lot of special memories.
CR: You raise an interesting point. You played A and AA hockey through Bantams and here you are in the AHL now after playing Division I hockey.
RJ: There is something to be said for it. That extra year of playing it, even playing A hockey my second year of Pee Wee, I was having fun. That was big in my development as a player and as a person. There wasn’t any pressure. You have to let kids be kids. Now it’s a job, and it can seem that way when you’re playing AAA or in the USHL or in college. I’m not saying hold off until the last minute to play AAA, but there is something to be said for letting your kid develop on the ice and off the ice. Have fun and teach them manners.
CR: What is your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
RJ: Everything at St. Cloud was special. You really play for pride for your school. There is nothing like it. Having the whole student body, and school and town behind you was special. The USHL was a good experience – a lot of learning and growing.
CR: Who have been the biggest influences on you on and off the ice?
RJ: My parents (Bob and Chris) are at the top of the list. My dad coached me a lot. I can’t thank them enough to get me where I am now, whether it was car rides to practice or the financial help. There are so many coaches. Ray Kellam coached me a couple of years in Santa Clara. Rick Kelly, Louis Pacella and Bill Comrie down in L.A. I’ve been everywhere. I went to four different high schools. So there are a lot of names I could list. You have to be a sponge when you’re bouncing around.
CR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
RJ: I played baseball growing up until my sophomore year in high school. We got to take batting practice at Busch Stadium during development camp, so I was reliving the glory days. I love basketball. I’ll play that a little bit at the gym. I’ll toss the football around. I like to watch all sports and play all sports. I love to golf, too.
CR: Are there are any pieces of gear you’re particular about?
RJ: I don’t know if I’m particular, but you get used to things. We used CCM in the USHL, and then again in college, so that’s what I’m used to. I try to say I don’t have superstitions. That has this wacko connotation, where if you don’t do it, your mind is in a pretzel. So I like to call them routines. I like to kick around the soccer ball before games. I like to get to the rink earlier to give myself time to do whatever
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
RJ: In-N-Out is pretty much a staple. Everyone on the West Coast prides themselves on that. There is a little brewery and kitchen place called Monkey King in Alameda. They specialize in chicken wings and garlic noodles, and they are so good.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
RJ: Mike Ricci. I have his bobblehead in my room in California. It’s crazy – the first year I went to San Jose’s development camp, he was one of the main coaches. I was starstruck for the whole week. I wanted to play like him.
CR: If you weren’t playing hockey for a living, what would you be doing?
RJ: Either broadcasting or baseball. I would have stuck with baseball and hopefully played college ball somewhere.
– Compiled by Chris Bayee
(Oct. 11, 2019)