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Summer Series: Mayfield Makes Home in Colorado

How family and Colorado shaped Scott Mayfield as a hockey player

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

It's a sunny, but chilly Tuesday May morning as Scott Mayfield runs up the bleachers at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. 

It's a beautiful spot. Wood bleachers on stone slabs sandwiched between a pair of towering and rugged red rocks. There are deer grazing on the hill above the amphitheater and the Denver city skyline is below in the distance. This type of natural beauty is one of the reasons Mayfield makes Denver, Colorado his off-season home. 

The Red Rocks Amphitheater has 70 rows from the stage to the nosebleeds, which feel a little higher in the altitude, and Mayfield is running each one, zig-zagging his way up like a series of switchbacks.

He's further weighed down by a weight vest, which seemed like a good idea when he pulled up in his Ford F-150 at 7:30 a.m. but is slightly more regrettable on row 53. 

It takes about 15-20 minutes to traverse the amphitheater and to his credit, he also did some warm-up runs directly up the vertical face. He can't cheat either with the fixed eye of the camera on him. 

The microphone picks up the heavy breathing, the grunting and some cursing, but he gets his workout in. Up top he talks about the concerts he's seen here and how congested the two-lane winding road gets before and after shows. 

He spends a minute taking in the view as well. The mountain vista is a sight he seldom sees during the seven months he's on Long Island. This is one of the reasons the St. Louis native was drawn to Colorado and tries to take in as much time outside as he can. 

"I think all hockey players probably have a vitamin D deficiency," Mayfield said. "We don't get a lot of sun or do much outside really. It's nice in the summer to be able to golf, go hiking and do all the outdoorsy stuff, fishing, stuff you can do here really close to Denver." 

NewYorkIslanders.com spent two days with Mayfield in Colorado for our inaugural Summer Series, getting behind-the-scenes access to the off-season homes, workouts and family life of your favorite players. 

Video: Isles Summer Series: Scott Mayfield

THE NEW FAMILY HOME: 

With no traffic it takes about 40 minutes to get from downtown Denver out to Scott Mayfield's parents' home in Larkspur, CO, but that's a tall order most afternoons and it's usually about an hour. 

It's a beautiful drive, especially after turning off I-25 South where there's maybe four turns on the 25-mile stretch that require the car to come to a complete stop. The landscape is made up of rolling hills, red rock ridges and mountain horizons as far as the eye can see. Wooden fences run property lines and are the only barriers on the highway. The properties are so vast that it's entirely possible to lose your dog on your own land if they get off the leash. 

The houses start to cluster a little closer together around the Perry Park Country Club, the golf course in the Mayfield family backyard, but it's still not a densely populated area. When Jane Mayfield, Scott's mother, takes the back roads to work, she can count the number of cars she sees on two hands. 

This is where the family has set up shop, moving to Colorado after raising their three kids in St. Louis and seeing them all move west. The view from their back deck is gorgeous, especially at dusk, when the sun lights up the red rock ridge and packs of deer roam around the fairway. It's easy to see why Scott Mayfield and his girlfriend Emily Bayless spend a lot of time here.

"It's nice and quiet out here, definitely something we like to do quite a bit," Mayfield said. "Whether it's a family dinner, a round of golf, hang out for a bit and watch a game. That's one of the reasons we live out here."

When they come to Larkspur, their two-year-old golden doodle, Odis, gets a chance to wrestle with the Mayfields' three other dogs, a lab named Annie, a rescue terrier named Charlie and a rescue bloodhound named Tucker. When Mayfield's sister Sarah brings her French bulldog, Penny over, it's wonderful chaos, with Penny, the smallest, but feistiest dog running the show. 

It is an inviting home and Jane and Andy Mayfield are hospitable hosts when everyone arrives. Steaks are marinating and craft beer fills the mini fridge--the selection of beers in Colorado has come a long way since the days Andy brewed his own in the late 80s and early 90s. 

This isn't where Scott grew up, but all the mementos of his childhood are there. There's Islanders memorabilia in the study off the main entranceway, along with his brother Patrick's Air Force ceremonial swords and Sarah's graduation photos.

There's a jersey closet in the basement from every team Scott played for, from his first jersey, to his Youngstown Phantoms jersey, DU (the University of Denver) and his NHL Draft sweater complete with the Velcro nameplate.

"My mom is kind of a superfan," Mayfield said with a laugh. 

The jersey collection holds a lot of extra meaning for Jane, who designed a few of the sweaters that hang in the closet. In addition to being a hockey mom, Jane Mayfield served as the de facto equipment manager for Scott's teams growing up, sewing up ripped jerseys, adding stop signs to the backs of mite jerseys and adding captains letters to the front. Eventually, she'd help make third jerseys for Scott's teams, ordering blank sweaters, designing logos with a friend and sewing them on.

"I've sewn since I was eight years old. I have this little Etsy store [AuntieJanesCottage] that I play with and make things, so that came easy," Jane said. "The kids have always helped, we've never done separate things, it's always been everyone's thing."

She also saved Mayfield's hockey career as the Isles defenseman nearly quit as a kid due to the discomfort of his socks bunching up in his skates. Jane cut holes in the sides and Mayfield stayed on the ice. 


GROWING UP MAYFIELD: 

Andy Mayfield was a hockey fan, but not a hockey player growing up. He's a self-described tri-pod skater and went out on the ice with Scott on occasion, playing in dads vs. kids games while the kids were young, where he got a first-hand look at what type of player his son was going to be. 

"He was maybe 10 years old and I went out with him on the ice and he immediately hacked me on the shins," Mayfield's father said with a chuckle. "I fell down and he stood over me and laughed and that was pretty much the last time I got on the ice with him." 

He wasn't the only family member who Scott would mix it up with. His older brother Patrick was the family goalie, which was a twist on the typical older brother-younger brother dynamic. 

"When the goals went in, it wasn't always pretty," Andy Mayfield said. 

The brothers found a way to co-exist and played together for one season in high school, even finding a way to team up on the scoresheet on a Scott goal assisted by Patrick. Hockey's big in the Mayfield family, but so were trips to the family cabin in Missouri, fishing, golfing and a host of other activities. The family supported Scott by driving him to Chicago for games, or attending weekend tournaments as far as New Jersey, but they were not singularly focused on raising an NHLer. 

"It's not something we ever expected or planned on. We were just in it for the fun of him playing hockey, meeting new friends and having a good time with the parents," Andy Mayfield said. "Even now, he's still just playing a game to me. I go and watch him in games and see him on TV and I'm just watching the same kid that used to play when he was a mite or a squirt and it's just really strange. Once you really get into the game and start watching it, it doesn't feel like the NHL, it doesn't feel like the AHL when he was there, it just feels like another hockey game and it's fun to watch."

It wasn't until Scott's midget seasons that pro hockey seemed like a possibility. Mayfield's St. Louis Amateur Blues U18 Team went to nationals and suddenly he was appearing on team's radars. 

"He was always good, but within a year or two he turned into a different player," Andy Mayfield said. "His skating was better and there was just a whole weird set of circumstances where his team went to Nationals and he was in the skills competition and won that."

The next step was going to the USHL, which meant Mayfield would have to leave home - a scenario Jane hadn't initially considered. With Mayfield's brother Patrick already out of the house at the Air Force Academy, the thought of her second son missing out on his senior year of high school and being gone was a hard one. 

The Youngstown Phantoms drafted Scott, so Jane and Andy drove up to Ohio for tryouts. Jane needed more than the coach's word, she needed to see with her own eyes that he was ready for the league and everything it entailed, including leaving home. 

"If I think he can play, I'll let him play," Jane Mayfield said.

Andy and Scott slept on the nine-hour overnight drive from Youngstown back to St. Louis after the tryout. Jane drove through the night and cried. She knew he was ready and wasn't going to stop him. Now, it puts a smile on her face. 

"That was one of the best decisions we made," she said.

DU CALLING: 

Mayfield's next big hockey decision was committing to the University of Denver and while the school's prestigious hockey program was Mayfield's first consideration, family played an influence again. 

Andy Mayfield had studied law at DU and Scott felt an internal connection with the school growing up. 

"When I was growing up I did follow them a little bit more because my dad went there," Mayfield said. "I definitely was a fan of the University of Denver even before I knew I was going to play college hockey. I think there was always a part of me that wanted to go there."

Andy bought Scott a DU jersey when he was 10 and jokes that he was subliminally planting the idea in Scott's head, a crude, waking form of inception. The crimson red jersey with gold lettering still hangs among his collection of game-worn jerseys. 

"Seriously, when it came time for him to make a decision to play college hockey, I didn't want to put any pressure on him to come to Denver," Andy Mayfield said. 

But it worked. Scott had interest from other schools, but only seriously looked at one. 

"I was very proud of him coming to Denver," Mayfield's father said.


The five dogs chase each other around the Mayfield house. They're somewhat contained, as mini fences prevent them from going downstairs to the home theatre/game room, or off leash on the porch, but they're content to jump on the couches in the living room, wrestle for toys or wait eagerly for scraps in the kitchen. 

Odis has a lot of energy, but no one compares to Penny, who could outlast the Energizer Bunny as she goes around the living room from human to human looking to play fetch or tug-of-war. 

The Western Conference Finals are on, with Vegas and Winnipeg battling in game three of their five-game series. The game is on in the background while Andy barbecues on the deck and Jane preps on the kitchen island. Outside, Scott is playing cornhole against his sister and her boyfriend and takes a break to go chip around on one of the nearby greens with Emily, but by the third period, everyone is in the living room watching the game. 

It's a home filled with hockey fans after all and while they're usually watching Scott and the Islanders, on this night he's with them. Mayfield would rather still be playing at this point and he hopes the Islanders can get to that point next season. But since he's home on a warm, beautiful evening in Colorado and nights with four fifths of the family are rare, they're to be enjoyed. 

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