I’m thrilled to be here at Blogger Girls today! I hope everyone takes a moment to say hello in the comments. I’ll stop back over periodically during the next couple days to answer any questions that may come up (you may even want to play along with today’s post and ask a question of Simon or Alex). One lucky commenter will get a free ebook: you’ll have the choice of either Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp or, in case you’re new to Hat Trick, you can opt to receive the original Hat Trick novel to start at the beginning.
I liked the idea of doing a character interview for this stop on the tour. In the original Hat Trick, each of the chapters opened with a brief article detailing how the Central High Falcons hockey team was doing week-to-week. In that book, Simon and Alex also worked with a reporter from the school paper, Mike, as their coming out became news throughout the school.
So, for this post, Mike, who is going to school at Penn State, interviews Simon and Alex for a profile in their hometown newspaper. This interview takes place shortly after the events in Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp and glimpses just a touch at Hat Trick 3, which comes out this summer and focuses on Simon and Alex’s senior year at University of Michigan. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up any major spoilers here but there is reference to a number of events across the entire Hat Trick series.
Senior year is getting ready to start for you guys and another big season of Wolverines hockey, except this time you’re coming into the season as co-captains. How does that change things for you?
Simon: It was a great honor to be put into the position, especially both of us together. It’s not unheard of to have co-captains, but it hasn’t happened in a while and not while we’ve been on the team. It means we have to work harder, not only to put our best game on the ice, but to help motivate and support the team.
Alex: Like Simon said it’s an honor that our contributions are being recognized this way. Alex and I agreed when the captain talk started during the spring semester that we’d be fine if either of us got it. That we both get to wear “C” is pretty cool.
Did you expect to be at this point when you got your scholarships during your senior year at Central High?
Simon: No way. Simply to get the scholarship was the pinnacle then. It meant I’d go to a good college, and that I’d get to go with Alex. Plus there was a lot of other stuff going on senior year, too. It made freshman year almost seem like a break since I got to leave that behind. Looking back from here though, the past three years have been incredible on so many levels that I could’ve never conceived of when I left high school.
Alex: I wanted to come to Michigan to play and contribute to a great team. The three seasons have been great. And if I were to be honest, getting to play in the Great Lakes Invitational outdoors during our freshman year has been the highlight for me so far. Being named co-captain is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but there was something about that game that was magical, much like the County High game our senior year at Central.
You’ve both heavily involved in work-study and internship programs, how do you manage to keep the balance between schoolwork, the team and leaving time for your relationship?
Simon: It’s been a learning curve. When I started working at Ann Arbor’s LGBT Community Center as a sophomore it was part time, shadowing a mentor and interacting with some youth. By that summer I was working in an expanded capacity and learning so much that related to my social work studies. My duties there have steadily grown, but they are flexible with my team commitments. Alex and I feel this is all preparation for graduation next summer. Meanwhile, we do make the time to for each other, too, even if it’s just catching up at the end of the day before we crash.
Alex: No doubt we’re both busy, but it should lead to great opportunities when we graduate. We both love what we’re doing. I’m very lucky that EdgeTech allows me to maintain my school and hockey time and learn while learning some incredible things as part of the team there. And, Simon’s right, we always find the time for each other. We’re just as important as the other things we’re doing. I think we’ve learned well from having the demands on our time grow gradually over the years so we could adapt.
And this summer you managed to go and coach hockey at a summer camp. What was that like?
Simon: It was great. We’ve coached youth previously and enjoyed it, which is why we were excited for this opportunity. To go away to a camp like that where it’s really a mix of hockey and camping was great. Our Falcons’ teammate Leo got to come along, too, which made the whole trip even better. We were lucky that our regular jobs let us off to take make the trip. The trip also solidified even more for me that I’ve made the right career choice. Working with young people is difficult at times, but so rewarding when you know you’ve made a difference.
Alex: As much as I love engineering, those four weeks made me wish that I’d considered perusing a major where I’d be able to make coaching a career. It was very fulfilling. It definitely makes me want to coach a kids hockey team, just an after school team or something, after graduation once I figure out what regular working life has in store.
What would happen if you guys coached opposing teams?
Simon: So far we’ve always coached together. But it a head-to-head, my team would certainly crush his.
Alex: No way. Mine would come out on top.
Maybe it’s better we forget that I asked that question, or perhaps you guys should always coach together. Now that you’re back form camp, what’s in store for the rest of your summer?
Simon: Mostly work for the both of us. With the time away at camp, we both have to focus on that for the remained of summer. I know we’ll play some pickup hockey, too, with some of our teammates who are in the area for summer. Hockey practices will start up again in virtually no time, so we’ve got to stay in shape for that. It wouldn’t look good for the co-captains to come back out of shape.
Alex: Simon pretty much nailed it there. It’s primarily work for the next couple months with training camp starting up towards the end of that time. It doesn’t sound like much, but since Simon and I like what we do, it’ll be great.
Any messages for the Flacons as they prepare for a new season?
Simon: We’re expecting great things as always. Just missing out on another state championship last season was rough, but we’re sure the team is going to come back strong. Derek Stone rising up as captain is awesome. The Falcons that were seniors at the same time we were won’t be surprised about that. I haven’t seen Derek play in a couple years, but I expect he’s gotten stronger and for Coach Archer to put him in the captain’s position means he’s ready to go.
Alex: I wholeheartedly agree with what Simon said, so I’ll just give a loud and proud “GO FALCONS!”
Simon and Alex start up their fourth and final season with the University of Michigan Wolverines in October.
And if you want to find out how that fourth and final season goes, you’ll have to pick up Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot when it comes out this summer. In the meantime, I hope you’ll either pick up Hat Trick if this series is new to you, or if you’ve been reading along pick up the latest Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp. Given the cold, wintry way it’s been so far this month, this could be a perfect summertime blast for you.
About Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp
Simon and Alex, now between their junior and senior years at The University of Michigan, decide to put their jobs on hold for a month and take the opportunity to coach hockey at a summer camp for teenagers.
They’ve got a cabin full of good players to work with and the focus is to get them ready to win the camp championship. One camper, sixteen-year-old Dylan, requests extra help because he needs to get a scholarship and the guys make it their mission to help him succeed.
With their best friend Leo along for the trip, Simon and Alex are setup for a great time at camp, until another coach tries to seduce them. How they respond to the unwanted advances, while balancing commitments to their campers, will test them both.
An Excerpt from Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp
“Simon, as many great summer trips as we’ve had, I think this might be the best one yet and it’s only just started,” Alex said right after he let go a contented sigh.
Alex and I went camping every summer. We’d spend at least a week at a campsite, as far into the woods and secluded as possible. Just us, a tent, and basic provisions. It was a blast. For our fourth summer trip, we mixed it up big time and so far I loved it. Neither of us went to summer camp as kids, but this year we decided to spend a month working at camp.
It was the end of the first day, and we were sitting on the steps leading up to our cabin. We were tucked in the woods near Muskegon, Michigan. The cool evening breeze, mixed with the wood smell of the cabins was perfect. It smelled like summer. Adding to the idyllic scene was sitting between Alex’s legs with my head resting against his chest. We looked out across the campground. Other counselors were hanging out in front of their cabins while the campers were in bed since it was past light’s out.
“You’re right,” I said, craning my head up to look at Alex. “Meeting the campers today was great. It’s gonna be awesome coaching for the next month.”
Back in March, we’d been approached by Carson Stilson, a wealthy Michigan alum, to coach at a new hockey camp he was starting. He transformed an abandoned arts camp into a hockey retreat with four half-sized rinks and one regulation one. Stilson invited college players to coach for camp’s inaugural year. It sounded like a great way to spend part of our summer, playing hockey and getting some sun. We jumped at the chance to do it.
While Alex and I had jobs, I was still at the Ann Arbor LGBT community center and Alex was at EdgeTech in Detroit, we managed to negotiate time away to come up here.
I gave a contented sigh as I snuggled in closer to Alex. It was early June, so it wasn’t super hot and there was a nice breeze blowing from the lake across the grounds. It made it very comfortable. The grounds were cool. There central area had six cabins for the campers and coaches arranged around a courtyard. Outside of that there were bathroom facilities and an administration building. There was also a boathouse, which I hadn’t been to you, down by the lake. The new buildings on the grounds were the rinks. I can’t imagine the investment to build the three buildings that housed the ice facilities. There were basic necessities in terms of locker rooms, but the ice was well kept. I’d played on much worse at private rinks over the years.
“Hey guys,” Leo said, coming towards us from the cabin next door. Recommending Leo as a coach had been easy for us. It was awesome we were going to hang out with him for a month. We hadn’t done that since we’d all gone away to college. “I forgot how much I hated going to sleep when I was a teenager. I thought we’d never get everyone settled down.”
I nodded. “We had slightly better luck. Maybe we just wore our guys out more.”
Leo stepped over me and sat down on the step above Alex so we could easily see each other while we talked.
“How are your guys?” Leo asked.
“We’ve got an interesting assortment of players,” Alex said. “We saw some that are really good, but others who need a lot of work. I like that it’s mixed though. It’ll make the concept of working as a team that much more important so the stronger players support the weaker ones.”
“I think it’ll challenge our coaching, too,” I said. “We’ve only worked with people of like skills before. Advancing players starting at different levels is going to be interesting. I’m glad we’ve got the daily coach’s check-in so we can all learn from each other.”
“I’m paired up with a guy who’s going to coach college hockey,” Leo said. “Kieran graduated a few weeks ago and got a gig as an assistant at Boston. I’m hoping to learn a lot from him.”
Alex kissed the top of my head as I absently ran my hand over his leg. I considered shifting positions, but then decided not too. Everyone knew we were a couple, and there was nothing even PG-13 in what we were doing.
“I was worried about using up our vacation for this,” Alex said, “but I’m already sure it was the right choice.”
“Me, too,” I said. “We’re out in the woods, and for longer than we would’ve been if we were on actual vacation. Plus you got to come along, too.” I held up my fist for Leo and he bumped it.
“It’s good for me too since Matt’s working in California for most of the month,” Leo said. “He’ll be back just before we head home.”
The cabin screen door opened slowly and out stepped Dylan, holding a hockey stick in one hand and his skates in the other looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Dylan was fifteen and a good skater, but he needed to work on his aim.
“What’s up, Dylan,” Alex asked. With Leo, Alex and me blocking the stairs, he couldn’t go easily around us.
“Uh,” he paused, obviously trying to decide what to tell us.
“Looks like you’re trying to break curfew,” I said matter-of-factly. “Since I doubt you’re going to the bathroom with skates and a stick.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it without speaking. He stared at us and we stared back, waiting for whatever he was going to say.
About Jeff Adams
Jeff Adams caught the writing bug in middle school and finally became a novelist with the Hat Trick series. He’s currently working on the final novel in the series, Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot, which is due out this summer. He’s also written a number of m/m romance shorts, including the recent re-release of Rivals. Jeff and his husband, Will, live in the peaceful, coastal beauty of Humboldt County, California. He also covers the Detroit Red Wings, as well reviews books that feature LGBT hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com. To learn more about Jeff, visit jeffadamswrites.com and follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc. You can also sign up to receive email updates from Jeff (no more than two per month).
As Jeff mentioned, one lucky commenter will win a free ebook: you’ll have the choice of either Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp or, in case you’re new to Hat Trick, you can opt to receive the original Hat Trick novel to start at the beginning.
To enter, just leave a comment! Don’t forget to include your email address so the author can contact the winner. The giveaway starts now and ends February 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.