New Ulm Steel’s Keegan Kemper enjoying Junior Hockey journey

NEW ULM — Playing Junior Hockey is not an easy life.

Many times a player can go from team to team, host family to host family and experience — at times — different cultures.

Keegan Kemper has played with a lot of teams and is now with his fifth team as he joined the Steel in early November.

“I love it,” the British Columbia native said. “I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and I billeted growing up, so I understood the scheme and how things went and I knew that this was what I wanted to do. My parents told me that this is a special time in my life, so why not do it and enjoy it.”

Kemper said that playing Junior Hockey meant that he had to miss a lot of the memories that high school students take for granted.

“I had to missed Homecoming, but I did go to my senior prom — that was the only school dance that I went to,” he said.

Kemper said that coming from Portland, it is not as cold there as it is here.

Kemper has played Junior Hockey in Grant Forks, Canada, population 4,049.

“It is right across the border from Washington, and then I played for Dawson Creek, which is way up north,” Kemper said.

It is located in the southern most terminus of the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia.

From there Kemper went to Bozeman, Montana, and then to Alexandria, Minnesota, before coming to the Steel.

In his now three-year trip through Junior Hockey, Kemper said that he has picked up on a lot of communication skills.

“Every host family is different and you need to be flexible with the family that you live with,” he said. “You are not going to come in and run the house. You need to know what their daily life is like. It is awkward for the first few days, but once you get by the first couple of weeks, I feel like I fit in pretty well.”

Kemper said that now he goes back and texts his first host family from three years ago and still has a good conversation.

Kemper said that he likes to have kids as part of his host family.

“They all turn into my little brothers and sisters and I love to make bonds with them,” he said.

“But then because of that, it is hard to leave that family. You build such a strong and emotional connection to the people that you are living with, so when you do leave, it is hard.”

Kemper is now in his last year of Junior Hockey and wants fo keep on playing hockey in college.

“And eventually I want to get into Sports Business as a coach or General Manager or in the front office.”

Kemper has applied to San Diego State University.

But first he has to finish out his Junior Hockey journey before he begins his next chapter in life.

STEEL ADD AND LOSE PLAYER: The Steel lost Connor Sousa to the North American Hockey League Hudson Havoc but added Griffin Lennes from the Wausau Cyclones of the NA3HL.

The Steel host Alexandria at 7:30 p.m. (note time change) Saturday night and it will be “$2 Beer Night” compliments of the B&L Bar.


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