Upper Valley Hockey Prodigy; Hunter Luhmann
Hunter Luhmann, an Upper Valley hockey prodigy is bound and determined to play in the NHL. Formerly a three sport phenom, he now focuses all of his efforts on making his dream come true.
“It’s always been my dream to play pro hockey. I think every kid who ever laces up the skates has the same dream”! The difference between Luhmann and most other kids is no doubt the level of intensity and determination that he brings to the table every single day.
When he was only three, Hunter had a cousin that was a few years older than him who played hockey -” I looked up to him and wanted to play hockey also.” So my dad brought me to open skate at Campion Rink in Hanover, NH. I was sore and my feet were killing me but I fell in love with skating and hockey right then and there.”
By the time he was a bantam he played for all three Upper Valley hockey organizations, Lebanon, Hartford and Hanover. By 8th grade he was playing for the triple A Seacoast Spartans in Exeter, NH and went to Proctor Academy freshmen through junior year. He reminisced about the trips and his parents devotion to help him with his hockey career.
“My mom and dad lugged me across the country to endless practices and games, sometimes at 5:00 in the morning and then would take me to school. They took me to Exeter (a two hour drive each way) three times a week. I’m just so thankful for all they’ve done for me and how they’ve helped me out. None of this would have been possible without them.”
“There’s also been so much bonding time on all those long drives. I can drive myself now, but when I was younger they did all the driving. I can never repay them for that…or all the cold rinks they had to sit in. Sure it would be great to become a pro but they did it because it helped me attain my goals in life, get into a good school and learn the values of hard work and determination.”
Playing three sports helped him get into Proctor Academy. While there, he continued with that regimen. Football defensive backs dreaded seeing him come out of the backfield and baseball pitchers watched helplessly as Luhmann deposited their best stuff on the other side of the fence. But hockey was always his passion. He knew that at some point, his commitment to hockey would eliminate the other sports from his itinerary.
At this point in his life, hockey consumes his schedule. He plays in tier one USHL for the Waterloo Blackhawks. “We only get Sundays off, so we practice Monday thru Thursday and have games on Friday and Saturday – sometimes even Sunday, so it doesn’t leave time for much else. It’s an everyday commitment. We play from August into mid May if we’re in the playoffs.”
USHL is a junior program that is also a stepping stone for most players into a D1 or D2 college…. and Hunter would love to go that route. As part of that plan, Hunter plays in the John Cunniff Chowderhead Cup, an invite only elite hockey tournament and showcase that draws all of the top college and pro scouts.
On life in the USHL; “It’s really incredible, everyone here is so talented and works so hard. Every day we have practice at 1:30 and you’d better be ready because it’s tough and fast, you need to be focused to keep up with the pace. It’s also very humbling to play with guys that are so skilled. It gives you the motivation to work extra on you hands or your shot or just to work on your skating. You work hard during the week in preparation for the games on the weekend.”
Hunter talked of how professional the Blackhawks organization is and how much he enjoyed being there. Plus… “It’s a lot of fun to play in front of so many people that are really into it. Sometimes, with all of the cheering and the cowbells ringing you can barely hear your own thoughts!” Now that’s loud!
The average practice can run almost three hours in the beginning of the season but tapers off somewhat once it gets going. “Early on, it’s all conditioning and playmaking – they want to ensure that we’re all on the same page and playing together. Toward the middle of the season they’ll skate us hard but they’ll be shorter sessions, we’ll work on a lot of team drills and 5 v 5 to get ready for a game.”
As important as his goal to play in the NHL, Hunter talked more about what hockey has done for him other that just playing the sport.
“It’s taught me how to be successful in sports and life because I needed to learn how to set goals and work toward attaining those goals. It’s also taught me how to harness my passion and drive in the process.”
Speaking of drive, when the season is over, he’ll be home in Vermont, working out every morning at ‘Wayne’s World’ in Hanover. Above and beyond that, he’ll be skating twice or three times a week with a skills coach in Montpelier… and toward the end of the summer he’ll skate at Dartmouth with Ben Lovejoy who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins and some of the Dartmouth players. “I’m fortunate to have made that contact and be able to play with those guys.”
Hunter also crossfit trains once a week at RVC and… “I try to get to the track to run sprints and run the hills near my house as often as possible.”
“Hockey has done so much for me over the years. I’ve made so many great friends, contacts and associations and had a lot of fun in the process. Sure it’s hard work, but I love it. It’s what you have to do if you want to be successful, not only in sports but in life as well. I definitely learned how to work for what I want and it helped me understand the value of having drive and passion for what you want.”
“That’s why I think all kids should play sports. Not necessarily to become a professional, but for what it can do for your life like getting into a good school, teaching you a work ethic, and making lifelong friends and great associations.”
Thanks for spending time with us Hunter! Best of luck with your dream. With your determination and desire, there’s no doubt you’ll be a success at whatever you do!
An Upper Valley Hockey Prodigy; Hunter Luhmann