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Altitude Adventure Closes 2019 Development Camp

Avalanche prospects focus on team building in the mountains

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CSU MOUNTAIN CAMPUS, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche wrapped up its 2019 development camp doing what the state of Colorado is best known for, playing in the Rocky Mountains.

After competing in a 3-on-3 game the previous night in Fort Collins, the Avs prospects headed roughly two hours west on Saturday to the Colorado State University Mountain Campus for an afternoon of team-building activities.

"It's a super nice place," said forward Alex Newhook of being at the site that sits roughly 40 miles up the Cache la Poudre River. "To come up here into the mountains, it's something that I don't really get to see back in Newfoundland or even in Victoria. To be able to get a different look and get away from hockey a bit and take in some fun stuff with the guys here, it's a great time."

The day's activities began with the players getting a small taste of what CSU students get at the alpine campus, as the Avs ate lunch in the cafeteria alongside the summer school students upon arrival. The day's meal was a little bit different than what they have normally eaten this week, as pizza, pasta, salad, fruit and broccoli were on the menu.

After scarfing down some grub--like the college students around them--the Avs had a little time to kill before the team-building challenges, so they made their way outside to shoot some basketballs, play horseshoes or toss a frisbee around.

At 1 o'clock, the Avalanche rookies made their way to the campus' challenge course, which featured a larger, higher up, ropes course and lower-to-the-ground obstacles.

The Avs broke up into two groups and each took part in three team-building activities at the lower elements. The activities focused on the importance of communication, supporting one another and adaptability, with teamwork at the forefront.

"I think the first couple of things, a lot of communication, trusting your teammates," said defenseman Josh Anderson of the early challenges. "It was definitely tough to get through some of them."

After an hour or so of exploring the lower elements, Colorado's prospects had the next two hours to check out the higher ropes course. Each one involved the players being strapped securely into a harness before facing the fear of height, lack of stability and, sometimes, control. Among the higher elements the Avs participated in was a rock wall followed by the "Giant Swing," the Cat Walk, Leap of Faith and an easy, fun zipline.

The Giant Swing involved the players climbing up a wall before connecting themselves to another rope--under the supervision of a staff member. They then jumped off a plank and swung back and forth, like you would on a swing set, before coming to a gentle stop in the middle.

"I haven't done anything like that before," said goaltender Justus Annunen of the Giant Swing. "It was a little scary but fun after that. It was a fun experience."

The Leap of Faith had the Avs climb up a giant, perpendicular log--almost like climbing a telephone pole--before standing on the very top. From there, they jumped out and tried to grab hold of a bar, almost like a circus trapeze artist, before being slowly lowered down.

The Cat Walk saw the players climb up a pole once again, but this time they walked across a parallel pole before climbing up to a higher tier log to do another walk across. The Avs then repelled down.

While each activity allowed the Avs a fun reprieve after a tough week on and off the ice, the challenge course still served a larger purpose. It showed the importance of supporting each other to get through a task and the internal strength and belief that is needed in order to accomplish personal and team goals.

Video: Alex Newhook discusses his first development camp

After an afternoon of activities above 9,000 feet of elevation in the Rocky Mountains, the Avs traveled back to Fort Collins for one last team dinner before everyone heads home on Sunday.

Some of the prospects will take what they learned to college in the fall and continue to progress as players while competing with their respective NCAA teams.

However for most of the players at development camp, they'll take what the learned into their summer training before being back in Colorado in two months for the team's training camp, where roster spots will be on the line.

"It's definitely an eye opener with this being my first camp," said Newhook, who will play at Boston College this fall. "To be around this group of guys, to be around that level of professionalism is good. It's a great way to try and get familiar with it and a good way to take the next step in the future."

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