Ever since Steve Jensen started playing college hockey, he felt coaching was his calling.
Jensen grew up on a lake in Plymouth—the ideal place for an avid pond hockey player who would lace his skates any chance he got.
By the time he was 21, Jensen was playing professional hockey with the Minnesota North Stars. Instead of relaxing in the offseason, he started a hockey school at Richfield Ice Arena. Even at his young age, the future Olympian never strayed far from his passion, which was to motivate and help others discover their own talents.
After 11 years of playing professional hockey, Jensen turned to his roots and decided he wanted to coach full time. He purchased land in central Minnesota in 1985, and Heartland Hockey Camps was born. Now, 34 years later, Jensen welcomes eager hockey players to the 80-acre camp every summer.
“I love to pass on my inspiration for the game,” Jensen said. “Just having fun and enjoying yourself. The creativity and excitement of the game of hockey allows you to spark that inspiration so easily—especially growing up in Minnesota and being a part of the State of Hockey.”
Jensen can’t help but feel a sense of excitement for campers who plan to visit Heartland Hockey Camps in the coming years, as the camp continues to grow.
“There will be a lot of new developments in the immediate future and other future developments as well,” Jensen said. “The most exiting thing is we just broke ground on a brand new weight room. It’ll be a 4,500-square-foot Olympic-sized weight room, and we’re going to call it the future Olympian training center.”
By 2020, the remaining portion of the new building will be comprised of a rink, which will facilitate private lessons, small-ice drill training, three-on-three leagues and tournaments.
The camp will also house a new dryland training facility, an expanded dining room and new lacrosse camps in the coming years.
Perhaps even more exciting, Jensen and his wife have recently bought 130 acres of land adjacent to their hockey camp, which contains a home they plan to rent out to families wanting to sprinkle some hockey into their vacation.
“It’s a beautiful, secluded piece of property where they can take a hockey holiday, and enjoy some serenity and privacy the same time as some hockey instruction,” Jensen said.
In the midst of many exciting changes in the coming years, Jensen is looking forward to welcoming a seasoned coach to Heartland Hockey Camps for a week in 2018.
Robb Stauber, head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, along with six of his players, will run a girls-only camp with the opportunity for young girls to train like Olympians—with Olympians.
Jensen played on the 1976 men’s Olympic team, collecting experiences and gaining wisdom he feels fortunate to be able to pass on to campers still today.
“I learned I have a natural instinct of passing that inspiration on through my motivation,” Jensen said. “I feel I’m a professional motivator as much as a hockey coach.”
And what better place to motivate and teach, Jensen believes, than the State of Hockey.
“There’s nothing like it,” Jensen said. “Being on the lake and having our own ice rink, seeing the northern woods, fresh blue water and clear blue skies—it’s a hockey utopia.”
“There’s nothing like it. Being on the lake and having our own ice rink, seeing the northern woods, fresh blue water and clear blue skies—it’s a hockey utopia.”