Athlete News

Athletic Mentor Trainee Signs For Dual Program with Wisconsin Lutheran

August 1st, 2018 by Athletic Mentors

Athletic Mentee Cole Kuehl is putting the “multi” into “multisport.” The Gull Lake grad was recruited by Wisconsin Lutheran College to play not just one, but two of the sports he’s loved since the 8th grade: football and track. It’s an unusual scenario because most college-level sports programs demand focus on a single sport. But that’s just never been in Cole’s playbook.

“I love track – it gets my mind off of football,” he said, laughing. “You don’t get burned out. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Cole is down-to-earth about his football prospects. There are too many injuries, as he knows first-hand from ACL and MCL issues with his knees, for it to be his forever game. At 6’4” with a 300lb+ frame, his stature can lead coaches to focus on his capacity for football and ignore his other desires, like track.

“I knew I needed to explore other things.” Instead, he looked for a college program that would nurture his love of multiple sports and his desire to one day work as a sports agent or Athletic Director.

“Wisconsin was a good fit. It’s located in the heart of Milwaukee, ten minutes from the Brewers and the Bucks. I love the program and the hometown feel,” he said.

Cole credits the Athletic Mentors program and coaches Mark Olson and Joey Chester for the success he’s earned on his quest for strength and efficient workouts. He’s been with Athletic Mentors for five years.

“I was a “big kid” and I knew I was strong but I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said.

Athletic Mentors gave him “serious training” to boost his bench press from 135 to 215 and deadlift to 450. But what they really helped him build was his confidence. “Joey and Mark have been my rock,” he said.

Cole’s mom, Barb Kuehl, swears by the Athletic Mentors program.

“He wouldn’t be where he is today without Athletic Mentors. It strengthened him a lot, not just body-wise, but mentally too. They helped him become well-rounded so he could perform in multiple sports. It’s more than just training; its spiritual and physical development for a healthier you.”

Mark Olson, coach and co-owner of Athletic Mentors, credits Cole’s achievement to his unrelenting commitment to his training over the past five years.

“Cole’s been a fixture in our gym, and that kind of dedication is what it takes to perform at a high level. He has a good head on his shoulders and will be a great team player for the Warriors. We’re proud of him, though we’ll miss him in the gym,” Olson said.

Cole called the college sports recruiting process “intense” and said he felt it was an emotional rollercoaster. “You can feel a bit broken down and beat up. You need to have very thick skin.”

He’s glad it’s over and is looking forward to suiting up for the Warriors first practice August 11th. For other youths finding their way on the field (or track), Cole has some sage advice.

“Just keep your head up. Always try to be your own leader in the weight room or on the field. You’ve got to enjoy whatever you’re doing.”

If you’re interested in working with an Athletic Mentors coach or participating in a group program for high school sports or hockey, check out available programs in our Registration area.

D1 Hockey Champ Tessa Ward Brings Ladies’ Hockey Home This Summer!

April 3rd, 2018 by Athletic Mentors

What do the Winter Olympics, the KOHA, and Athletic Mentors have in common? They’re scoring awareness for the sport of Girls & Women’s hockey.

This summer, Division I Northeastern Husky Forward Tessa Ward will suit up to help coach Mark Olson lead Athletic Mentors’ first Ladies Dryland Summer Training Camp. The freshman and her team earned the Hockey East Championship this season before being sidelined on the way to the NCAA’s Final Four.

For Ward, growing up with a dad in the NHL (Eddie Ward) and four brothers who vied for ice time in their backyard hockey rink, playing came naturally. The basement of her childhood home is still riddled with holes in the wall from their games of competitive mini-stick. Dad was in the mix, much to her mom’s chagrin.

Ward’s older brother, Keegan, now plays for Northern Michigan University. When they were younger, watching him play inspired her.

“I was so jealous. I saw him having fun on the ice, and thought I could do it better than him…” Ward recalls. She’s played since she was four years old, entirely on boys’ teams until Bantam major level. Then she switched over to girls hockey, playing on the Lansing Spartans.

“That’s when I really realized this was something I can do and want to do at the collegiate level.”

For Ward, the dryland camp is the kind of thing she wished she would have had growing up.

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“I think it would have been motivating to see girls my age working, getting stronger, growing in the game. I had to travel to play on a girls’ team. It’s great they’re building a program. I’m really looking forward to mentoring young girls.”

Ward credits in part the Team USA Women’s Olympic win this year with the surge in popularity experienced in women’s hockey. “I think it’s shown a lot of girls that hockey is a sport was can all play. It’s not just for boys anymore.”

Earlier this year, the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association teamed up with Athletic Mentors to offer 40 girls, ages 8U to 16U, an opportunity to train both on and off the ice. The program turned heads at USA Hockey.

“The excitement and buzz that is surrounding girls and women’s hockey right now is contagious,” said Emily West, USA Hockey’s ADM manager. “The staff in Kalamazoo is continuing to go above and beyond for these girls and it’s an awesome thing to see how much those girls enjoyed the event.”

That trend will continue this summer in Richland under the tutelage of Coach Mark Olson, former D1 player and national champion, and Tessa Ward. In Dryland training, Athletic Mentor’s unique blend of performance-powered mental and physical conditioning with precise skill development will help serious players ratchet up their level of play. On-Ice skills and conditioning will also be available for those who want to hone their stride strength, power and explosive stops and starts. The coaching team includes former NHL Pro Eddie Ward; pro power skating coach Stacey Barber, and new team member, Nicole Reitz. For Ward, it’s a pleasure to work alongside one of her most influential coaches.

“I’ve worked with Mark since I was ten years old. I trust him as a trainer more than anybody else. He’s honest, works hard, and keeps you working towards a goal. He’s been wonderful to me and my brothers, and has taken me to the next level as a hockey player and a person.”

She hopes she can give some of that back to the program.

“My advice to younger girls is to keep working hard. Keep your head up, and have fun playing hockey. Make a goal and stick to it and don’t let anybody tell you no. Hockey is not just for boys anymore.”

For more information about Athletic Mentors’ program, visit  Ladies Summer Dryland Camp or call 269.743.2277.

Wings West Partners with Athletic Mentors to Help Young Athletes Get the Edge at New Training Facility

August 1st, 2017 by Athletic Mentors

Coach Mark Olson pictured during K-Wings workout. Olson will now also head the Wings West off-ice training programs.

Come September, young athletes in Kalamazoo will be able to “get the edge” with world-class off-ice training programs thanks to a new partnership between Wings West of Greenleaf Hospitality Group and Athletic Mentors, the area’s premier athletic training organization for ice sports.

The first phase of the new training facility at Wings West, located off 9th Street in Kalamazoo, will focus on programs developed for the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA), the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association (GKSA), and the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League.

“We are excited see the new space come together,” says Danielle Brandenburg, General Manager of Wings West.

“The investment in the space will be well worth the positive impact it can have on youth sports in the area.”

The partnership has been met with enthusiasm by local hockey program leaders.

“Injury prevention is a key advantage to off-ice training with Athletic Mentors, along with helping athletes learn how to live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition programs,” said Kristen Crandle, President of GKSA.

Frank Noonan of the KOHA says his organization is “really looking forward to the competitive edge we will gain by working with the utmost premier hockey trainers in the area.”

Athletic Mentors will be working with the coaches to identify the overall goals of the teams and then design programs based on strengths and weaknesses. Mark Olson and Cheryl Sherwood, founders of Athletic Mentors, stress the importance of the customization of their programs.

AM Hockey operates summer hockey camps in dryland training shown here at the Richland facility, as well as on-ice speed skating and skill drills.

“Every athlete is unique and requires a customized strength training and skill development program that helps them achieve peak performance both individually and within the team dynamic,” said Mark Olson, head coach and co-founder of Athletic Mentors.

The AM Hockey coaches are no strangers to training on-ice athletes. Athletic Mentors works with the Kalamazoo Wings in-season to stay game-ready. The company is also widely known for its popular on-ice and off-ice hockey camps led by Olson, a former D-1 player, and key coaching staff Eddie Ward, former NHLer, and Stacie Barber, speed skating specialist. The summer programs blend performance-focused mental and physical conditioning with precise skill development to produce athletes who are ready to move up to the next level.

By early 2018, Athletic Mentors hopes to extend programming to meet the demand for community-wide health and fitness programs beyond hockey. Currently, the company offers sport programs in basketball, volleyball, soccer and football, as well as multi-sport training and coaching. Most recently, it has introduced individual fitness programs with metabolic testing, TRX bootcamp and Yoga classes at its Richland facility.

“We’d love to bring healthy living and recreation to the wider community of young athletes,” said Cheryl Sherwood, co-founder of Athletic Mentors and manager of the multi-sport team.

“It’s important to stay game-ready when you’re a team athlete. But it’s even more important to stay fit for life. And that starts with training smart.”


For more information on Wings West, KOHA, or GKSA, please visit To learn more about Athletic Mentors and their programs available, please visit

Wings West, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association, Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League, Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association, and Adult Hockey leagues. Built in 2002, Wings West is a committed partner in bringing youth and adult ice sporting events to the Kalamazoo community.

Athletic Mentors’ Alumnus Stefan Noesen Scores First NHL Goal for Ducks

December 8th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors
Athletic Mentor Hockey Camp Alumnus Stefan Noeson scores his first NHL goal for the Annaheim Ducks

Athletic Mentor Alumnus Scores First NHL Goal 3 Games Into Career with Anaheim Ducks. Image and screen shot of headline from

Congratulations  to Athletic Mentors’ mentoree and alumnus Stephan Noesen who did us proud last night scoring his first NHL goal for the Anaheim Ducks.

“Stefan has been an outstanding member of Athletic Mentors’ Hockey Camp and has worked hard to build his strength, speed, and agility after injuries. His unstoppable nature made this moment a triumph over past tribulations,” AM Coach Mark Olson said. “We’re ecstatic for him!”

According to a press release published by the Anaheim Ducks, Noesen buried a one-timer from the slot in the second period of Anaheim’s eventual 6-5 shootout victory over the visiting Hurricanes, raising both fists to the rafters and breaking out in a beaming ear-to-ear grin. Wednesday night was just his third NHL game with the Ducks.

“I saw the red light and threw my hands up,” said the 23-year-old winger. “It was all the emotion from two long years coming at me all at once.”

Watch Stefan’s First NHL Goal

According to a story by Adam Brady for the, those two years were more than any athlete should be asked to endure. Noesen  battled through not one, but two devastating injuries that each kept him off the ice for extended periods of time. First was the torn ACL, MCL and meniscus suffered soon after being acquired by the Ducks in 2013, and a year later there was the partially torn Achilles that put him on the shelf for most of the 2014-15 campaign.

Brady wrote that in an odd way, Noesen had an impact on the Ducks franchise even before he was acquired by Anaheim. Ducks GM Bob Murray has acknowledged that Anaheim wanted to take Noesen with the 22nd selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, but the Senators snatched him up one pick prior. The Ducks quickly swung a deal with Toronto to send that 22nd pick to the Leafs for the 30th and 39th, which became franchise cornerstones Rickard Rakell and John Gibson.

Two years later the Ducks got Noesen anyway, dealing Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Noesen and a 2014 first round draft pick they used to select Nick Ritchie.

Read the full story of Noesen’s triumph here:

How Much Protein Do Endurance Athletes Need?

April 29th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

Protein supplementation is big business today, with mass food producers jumping on the bandwagon, but how much protein do endurance athletes really need? This is one area about which Athletic Mentors’ clients routinely ask when in training. One thing that folks often forget is that whatever the source, protein = calories, so there’s a trade-off when training.

According to one Vanderbilt University study, endurance athletes do use protein as a source of 5%-10% of total energy expended due to the duration of their training sessions. This protein needs to be replaced as well as protein that is used for tissue repair, thus an elevated level of intake can be beneficial. However, a point exists at which any more protein taken in is no longer beneficial, and exceeding that point means unnecessary calories.

In her book, “Sports Nutrition Guidebook,” author Nancy Clark points out that many athletes eat more protein than they require just through standard meals. That is, a 150-pound recreational athlete who burns 3,000 calories can easily consume 300 – 450 protein calories. This equates to 0.5 to 0.7 grams of protein per pound, which is more than the RDA of 0.4 grams per pound.

Meanwhile, research shows that protein intake exceeding 0.9 gram per pound would offer no further benefit. Clark suggests that adult enduarance athletes aim for an intake of 0.6 – 0.7 gram per pound of body weight.

So, if you’re a 140-pound bike racer, you’d need to consume between 85 – 98 g protein each day.

Low Cal, High Protein Food Choices

In terms of food that have high-protein-to-calorie ratios, leaders include egg whites at 20 grams per 6 egg whites (100 calories); chicken breast at 18 grams per 2 ounces, tuna at 20 grams per 3 oz, haddock at 21 grams per 3 0z and cottage cheese at 15 grams per 1/2 cup. For vegetarians, extra firm tofu nets 12 grams per 4 oz, and Boca burgers net 13 grams per 2.5 oz.

For more information: Check out Nancy Clark’s Book or contact us to schedule a nutritional counseling session with us today!

Anatomy of Success: Rising Hockey Star Alex Cannon

April 4th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

IMG_7920-1What does it take to elevate your game? Ask Alex Cannon, who has had a burning desire since age 8 to play on a Detroit team.

Today, it’s safe to say that the Captain of the Plymouth Compuware’s UA15 team who has recently been asked to commit to the elite Oakland Junior Grizzlies U16 AAA team has reached his goal in a big way. Getting there took inspiration, perspiration, and great year-round coaching.

“It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Al has been called up to the Oakland U16 AAA team,” said coach Mark Olson. “That kid has drive, perseverance, and talent to burn. But most importantly, he’s always ready to do the work.”

Cannon began training with Coach Olson in the Athletic Mentors hockey program in 2011 at age 11, where he began sports-specific, age-specific training. His family called summer hockey camp the first “turning point” in his development.

“Al began to learn and understand the importance of training and nutrition in order to get better at hockey and take it to the next level. Because he was and still is so focused and driven, he took all of this and began to apply it to his everyday life,” said Lu Cannon.

For Al, the next few summers at Athletic Mentors summer hockey school gave him an opportunity to work out, stick handle and be on the ice with older kids, junior players and some pros. This pushed him even more to adopt winning practices and rise to the level of advanced play.

One pivotal moment for Al came after an on-ice training session with Eddie Ward. Ward sat all of the kids down and in essence said, “You have to stand out. If your parents have to ask you to stick handle and train you might as well not try to play at a high level. You have to want it and be self-motivated. If you are in a group of kids, you better do something out there that makes you get noticed by the coaches. It’s important to continue to workout all year long and stick handle. This will set you apart from the rest.” Al took those words to heart.

In 2013, he began to workout with Coach Olson all year long. For the first year he was the only one his age working out several times a week after school. He continued to ask to play in Detroit. Coaches Olson, Ward and his parents told him to be patient.

When Al became a Bantam that was the year they were allowed to check. The first game of the season, Al came on the ice with confidence ready to go. His first check was on a player probably 30 pounds heavier. The guy was not expecting it from him and the players, crowd and coaches sat there stunned. From that point forward, that is how Al has played: with ice vision, speed, confidence, strength, leadership and a strong team presence.

“Timing and patience is everything. The support, guidance, and development that Mark Olson, Eddie Ward and Athletic Mentors along with Al’s determination and hard work have opened doors,” said Lu Cannon.

Athletic Mentor’s Hockey Division has now opened Registration for its popular summer dryland training, On-Ice skills and Power Skating programs. For details, visit our partners at

Fall Coaching Special

October 30th, 2015 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Purchase 3 months of coaching before December 31st, 2012 and get your 4th month free.

Transition: The 4th Discipline of Triathlon

June 11th, 2015 by Athletic Mentors

By Roxane Kippen, Team OAM Now Triathlete

Hold on a minute, isn’t triathlon just three disciplines? Yes swim, bike and run take up the majority of the race, but there are these precious seconds, or for some, minutes where you have to wiggle out of your wetsuit and put on a bike helmet (T1) and change from bike shoes to run shoes (T2). While time spent in the transition area may not be long, how wisely you use that time could be the difference between being on the podium or wishing you were.

With triathlon, there are usually a few “I could have been faster if I had only: sighted better in the swim so I wasn’t weaving all over the course, or not pushed so hard on the bike so I had solid legs to run on, or pushed harder on the run so I didn’t get caught in the last 100 meters.” What people might not realize is a good transition time can often make up for small mistakes elsewhere.

I’m not the fastest swimmer in the field, but I hold my own. However, my T1 transition is quick and efficient and usually sets me in great position heading out on the bike. In fact, I can generally make up anywhere from 15 to 30 second deficit from a slower swim with a fast T1 time. My transition times are always among the fastest in the women’s field and I actually posted the fastest T1 and T2 times out of both men and women at a race last summer.

Is transition a special talent I possess? Does a fast transition matter? Transition is a skill, just like swimming, and it can be practiced and improved. Transition does matter, as I have seen many a podium spot slip out from under athletes, because they did not prepare well for their entire race. When races are decided by less than 30 second gaps, you’d better believe 30 extra seconds in transition can cost you a win. So how do you get good at it? Like any other discipline in triathlon, you need to practice. Below are some rules and tips for how to shave seconds and maybe minutes off your next race.

rule 1 TransitionRule #1 – BE ORGANIZED
Organization is critical to a fast transition. You don’t get a lot of room in transition. Typically, one rack will have 8 bikes, so you need to be organized and keep only what you need in the transition area. Do not leave your duffle bag or backpack in the transition area. It will get in your way and it will get in the way of other racers by creating a road block when trying to un-rack and re-rack your bike.


Read the rest of this entry »

Athletic Mentors Trainee Sets PR in Boston Marathon to Remember Mentor

May 7th, 2015 by Athletic Mentors

AmyatBostonWhen Amy Bross crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon amidst the frigid rain and high winds in personal-record time (3:29) April 20, she was not alone.

She had an angel drafting her.

The 37-year-old triathlete who trains with Athletic Mentors and represents Team Stellafly decided to run the Boston Marathon to keep a promise she made to honor her mentor and friend, Jim Kelley, who was killed while running in November of 2013.

“The reason I was in Boston was because of Jim. I crossed the finish line and I was walking back to Athlete’s Village, freezing cold, and I was all choked up because I would not have been there had it not been for him. The frozen hands, beat up legs, purple lips, and soaking wet feet didn’t matter at that point. He believed so much in me and in my potential. All he wanted was to see me run Boston. And I had just run Boston,” Bross said.


Amy with running mate and mentor Jim Kelley.

It was a beautiful finish to a running legacy that started with Bross’s father, burgeoned with Kelley’s inspiration as a running partner, and flourished under the high-science HRT training and nutrition plan of Mark Olson at Athletic Mentors.

“Boston was definitely tough!  It’s a very difficult course and while you have to be physically strong, it can mentally break you too…the hills hit hard and you’re tired…but the fans and the spectators were just incredible – even in the pouring rain,” Bross said.

Bross’s father, Ron, turned her on to running when she was a freshman at Grand Valley State University in 1996. The father-daughter duo ran together through 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, and finally their first marathon together – Chicago Marathon in 2000.

After knee surgery six years ago, Bross thought her distance running days were over. During recovery, she got hooked on triathlons while cross training and in ensuing years made several trips to the podium. Not to be outdone, her father joins her in local triathlon events despite breaking his back last year in an accident.


Amy with her Dad

Amy with her Dad

It’s fair to say there’s an unstoppable gene in the family. Bross Sr., in his late 60s, recently competed in Florida’s St. Anthony triathlon.

“They say I’m clearly my father’s daughter,” Bross says. “We both work very hard with training and put our entire hearts into everything we do, and it’s so inspirational to see my dad pushing through it…he just won’t quit! I’m always so proud of him just as much as I know he is so proud of me.”

Amy spent a year training speed and tempo work with Kelley, and he paced her through a 10k PR as well as a half-marathon PR. Just before Kelley died, he’d texted her after a race he had just finished, telling her she needed to run Boston with him. She had said no, she was finished with marathons, and only wanted to race triathlons.

Ron Bross-FLA

Ron Bross at Florida’s St. Anthony Triathlon

After Kelley’s tragic death that rocked the local athletic community, Bross changed her mind. She would run Boston after all, to memorialize all he’d given her. After she ran a tough Boston qualifier race, she knew that as a “Type A” personality, she’d need some training in order to avoid over-training while she continued to focus on triathlons.

Enter Mark Olson, wielder of a data-based coaching regime that included slowing down in order to very precisely meter her energy use, reserves, and capacity for recovery.

 “I’ve improved significantly as an athlete and the difference has been heart rate training with Mark. It’s made a huge difference for me. He keeps me locked in my ‘zones’ and ‘benches me’ — as I like to refer to it — when he knows that I need a break,” Bross said.

AmyBoston2A fully admitted “pace junkie,” Olson’s challenge was to slow Bross down to stay in her ‘zones’  so that she was able to improve her aerobic capacity, by throwing ‘pace’ out the window. The result, says Bross, was a vastly increased capacity to sustain a pace for a longer period of time. The pair are still working together to capitalize on this kind of improved endurance for triathlons.

A second training phenom Bross credits with making all the difference in distance is nutrition.

“What I learned from Mark is that nutrition planning is a huge factor that will make or break my performance. The scientific data we have on me is down the exact point at which my body stops burning off fat for fuel and switches over to carbs, which is when I need to take the nutrition — even if I don’t want it or feel like I need it. I have struggled with nutrition issues for a long time and it’s really affected me, but Mark has made it a priority to fix it,” Bross said.

The result of her rigorous adherence to his race nutrition planning was not only endurance during the marathon, but fast recovery thereafter even in her hard training sessions that he gives her.

“I couldn’t have done this without him. He had a plan laid out for me and told me to go execute it ‘as is,’ because he knew that I could. He reminds me when I struggle to believe in myself, to just trust him…and so I do, and that trust has never failed me,” Bross said.

The real joy for her isn’t the competition, despite her tendency to be a competitive athlete. It’s the sense of community shared among runners and triathletes.

“I have never met a more selfless group of people than runners and triathletes,” Bross said, recalling a time when she blew a tire in a Ludington triathlon and several people were willing to throw their race to help her, or the numerous times Kelley and others gave up their own races to pace her through tough runs and races.

“The sense of community, support and camaraderie found in both running and triathlons is incredible. It’s said in Boston “We Run Together” — and that is exactly how it felt and how it should feel.””

Now that Boston’s behind her, Bross will be training for the local summer triathlon circuit, with her focus on the Ironman 70.3 Miami — which will be her “A” race, among other endurance feats including an Olympic distance race in Iowa. Bross represents Team Stellafly, a multi-sport team focusing on health, community and inclusivity. The team consists of a diverse range of athletic abilities including professional and elite athletes, ultra runners, cyclists, swimmers, as well as media professionals. Athletic Mentors is a sponsor of Team Stellafly.


Athletic Mentors Hockey Camp Coach Suits Up As NHL Duck

April 13th, 2015 by Athletic Mentors

noesenDL040815You might find Athletic Mentors hockey camp alumni Stefan Noesen suited up for the Anaheim Ducks this spring, or wearing an Athletic Mentors Coaching Jersey, depending on the day. It’s been a long strange trip from Plano, Texas to the NHL, but for unstoppable two-way right-winger with the “high hockey IQ,” the ride is worth the fare.

Noesen was called up from the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals to log ice time in the bigs with the Anaheim Ducks earlier this month.

“I definitely had a little bit of jitters in the beginning,” said the 22-year-old.

“As the game went on, it starts to be hockey and those feelings go away. It was a dream come true.”

Noesen’s NHL agent, Eddie Ward, predicts his April debut won’t be his last time in suit, and credits Athletic Mentor’s Pro Hockey Camp with Noeson’s ongoing development and steady progress toward the top of his game.

“Training with coach Mark Olson has given Stefan the edge to up his game and get the call,” said Ward. “He has made outstanding gains in terms of strength and conditioning in the two years he’s trained with Athletic Mentors. The program’s pro-style focus on speed, strength, skills and diet is unparalleled,” Ward said.

Noesen, at 6’2” and 205 lbs, was a first-round draft pick in 2011 for the Ottawa Senators and remains in the NHL’s top 35 prospects in central scouting rank. His proving ground in the OHL and AHL was protracted when he was sidelined by injuries, including a torn ACL that had him sit out the 2013 season, and an Achilles tendon injury last fall. But Noesen has battled back to top form, a feat Ward calls “inspiring.”

“It’s been amazing what he’s gone through. I’m really proud of Stef. There are two ways a story like this can go. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, Stef’s continued to get himself in phenomenal shape, trained really hard in the summer, had a great training camp…It is just amazing how he’s persevered,” said Ward.

Ward is teaming up with coach Olson this summer to unveil the Athletic Mentor’s On-Ice Ultimate Skills & Conditioning program. Noesen is joining the team as an assistant coach, a role for which Ward says he was made.

“Stefan pays attention to detail and knows all about focusing on the little things to ratchet up his play. I think our young athletes will really benefit from his experience and his incredible attitude. He’s a smart, competitive player with a high-energy, two-way game.”

The team’s excited to provide something different that hasn’t been available to serious players who want to get to the next level.

“This is a camp that’s going to be focused on attention to details; a high-end program that’s really going to push the athletes. In other words: not your typical camp,” Ward said.

As an agent, he feels serious pro contenders need to train year-round to remain competitive players. Increasingly, those who make the pro circuit are one-sport athletes from an early age and are committed to hard work at strong summer programs.

But quantity does not beat quality, he warns.

Even those players who’ve trained year-round from an early age — like Noesen — can use a boost with elite strength and conditioning training and the kind of on-ice skills best mentored by those who’ve played pro or at elite levels.

Noesen is the product of early Dryland training as a former 10-year member of Dallas’s Ice Jets hockey program, where he helped lead his team to a U-12 Tier 1 national championship.

Dryland training has historically been an innovative approach to training all aspects of an athlete, from nutritional counseling to explosive power through strength conditioning. A handful of programs across the US have been pioneers, Athletic Mentors among them.

Noesen, the son of two college basketball athletes, fell in love with hockey at the age of 3 when his grandfather taught him the “motions” of ice skating in the living room. Since then, he’s been driven for ice time.

Despite the hot, humid climate in Dallas, Noesen trained year-round since he was 8 years old. He moved to Northville, Michigan to spend two seasons in the Compuware Under-16 Team, winning a national championship in 2009. After his first-round draft selection, he played with the OHL Plymouth Whalers until traded to Anaheim.

His advice for young athletes who want to make the play to go pro is “don’t stop believing – or improving!”

“Every game I push myself to be better and better, and the more I push myself, the higher I go in the standings,” Noesen said. “Play big and train hard.”