Crew, Carroll add energy, expertise to Rampage coaching lineup
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Excuse J.J. Crew and Joey Carroll for their enthusiasm, but they work in a sport they love, giving back to young players, in their second home.
The Colorado Rampage’s two newest coaches realize they wouldn’t have had the opportunities they have without many other coaches giving back to them over the years.
“I love the game so much, I didn’t want to get away from it,” Crew said. “I still feel like I’m living the dream, and I wanted to give back to the people who helped make me successful.”
“This is a passion,” added Carroll. “The thing about any dream is it’s not free. If you work hard and believe in what you’re doing, things will work out.”
Crew rejoins an organization he helped lead the Midget 18U AAA team an appearance at the USA Hockey Nationals back in 2007. He spent his final two seasons of youth hockey with the Rampage after growing up playing in California. After a season in the United States Hockey League (USHL), Crew played four seasons of NCAA Division I hockey at Western Michigan University.
Crew serves as the Rampage’s Pee Wee coordinator and a Pee Wee AA coach, as well as coach and general manager of the club’s junior team in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, while Carroll is the Rampage’s Bantam coordinator and coaches the club’s Bantam AA and Midget 16U AAA American squads.
Carroll, who played junior hockey for the Colorado Outlaws of the Western States Hockey League, grew up in New Mexico and later coached in Albuquerque for six years at every level from Squirt to Midget. He also founded the Warrior Hockey Academy training facility.
“These are two huge adds for us,” said Rampage Midget 18U AAA coach and owner of Colorado Sports Center Andrew Sherman. “They’re both smart and they’re guys who could run a program some day.”
Crew credited his California youth coaches – Jack Bowkus and Chris Annunziato – sparking his desire to coach hockey and added that Sherman and the Rampage are the perfect fit.
“Andrew never tries to debate or oversell anything,” Crew explained. “He believes in what he has to offer. It makes him easy to work with. From the beginning, he ran the Rampage like a pro team and treated the players with respect. I share the same desires and I want kids to have a fun experience.”
These days, Crew has to balance dealing with 12-year-olds with coaching 18- to 20-year-olds.
“It makes me stay even-keeled, and I have a lot of good managers and parents helping me out,” he said.
Carroll is self-made through and through.
“I had something like 20 coaches growing up, so I wanted to go back to New Mexico and change the hockey culture,” he said. “I started the training academy and I helped an association (Team New Mexico) come to fruition, one that has helped kids move on in the game, including to Minnesota high school hockey and now to Colorado.”
Four players followed him to the Rampage – Zach Ganshaw, Alex Furste and Dane Whittet, who will play for Carroll, and Nicholaus Weaver, set to suit up for the Rampage 16U AAA National team.
“The sky is the limit,” Carroll said. “We have something really special here and I’m immersing myself in it. You always have to be learning.”
The learning curves of Crew and Carroll represent a turning point in the coaching game, Sherman said.
“Both are enthusiastic and educated horizontally, through the Internet and other ways,” Sherman said. “They bring something unique that guys in their 40s or older might not have. (The older coaches) had a more vertical experience – someone above them shared information. J.J. had some of that with (former WMU coach Jeff Blashill (now the Detroit Red Wings coach) and Andy Murray (former coach of the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings) at Western and Joey is so darn motivated.
“I know both will be well-received.”
— Chris Bayee