When it comes to professional athletes, there really is no offseason. Sure, one may be able to get away from the ice/field/court for a few weeks once the season ends, but then it’s right back to working out and preparing for the next season.
This is especially true for young players who are trying to prove themselves, and that’s the position Marblehead native Doyle Somerby finds himself in as he prepares for his second season of professional hockey.
“It was nice to get off the ice for a bit after the season ended, get back home and enjoy the nice weather for a bit,” Somerby, 24, said. “But then, pretty much right away you’ve got to get back in the gym and start working again. It takes a lot of work to make it in this league (NHL), and you’ve got to put that work in all year long.”
Somerby recently completed his first season of professional hockey with the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 defenseman played in 38 games with the Monsters, scoring one goal with seven assists and racking up 33 penalty minutes. Coming off of a stellar college career with Boston University (2013-2017), Somerby realized pretty quickly the differences between the college and professional game.
“Playing at an elite college program and against other elite college programs, the skill level isn’t as far off as you’d think when you go pro, except that these guys really know how to use their body for position,” Somerby said. “But what is different is just the strength of some of these guys in the pros. One of the biggest things I’ve been working on this summer is building up strength in my lower body and core so I can hang with those guys.”
The mental aspect of the professional game is on another level from college.
“With all of the traveling, film study and practice time, it can get a little mentally draining,” said Somerby. “But once you go through it for that first year, it only makes you more confident that you can handle it when you come back for the second year.”
Somerby spent the summer in Marblehead, working out at Marblehead Fitness Center and enjoying a bit of beach time when he can. He’s working out with fellow Marblehead native Jake Kulevich, who himself spent last year playing in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose (affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets).
“We’re out there training and lifting every morning,” said Somerby. “It’s grueling at times, but that’s what you have to do in order to get better.”
All that work is leading up to August 19, when Somerby and the rest of his Cleveland teammates will head to Columbus for workouts prior to training camp. Somerby will have three weeks before training camp starts to make an impression on Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. And, without the distractions that come from being a rookie in a NHL training camp, Somerby feels good about where he’s at entering camp.
“I’m a lot more confident right now than I was at this time last year,” Somerby said. “Last year, I was a little wide-eyed coming into camp and playing against guys I looked up to my whole life. But I learned a lot during that training camp and in my first season with Cleveland, so I’m coming into this season with a ton of confidence in my ability. I know I can play with those guys, so now it’s just time to go out and show it. You just have to keep a good head on your shoulders and trust yourself, and good things will happen.”