Hot yoga and book club: Rochester's Maddox Fleming preparing mind, body for college hockey
Rochester native Maddox Fleming will head to Notre Dame in the fall to play Division I college hockey. He's spent the past year preparing himself mentally and physically for the next level.
Maddox Fleming’s preparation for life as a Division I college hockey player and a student at Notre Dame is more unusual than might be expected.
The Rochester native is on the ice, in the weight room and in the video room a good portion of every day with his teammates from the United States Hockey League’s Sioux Falls (S.D.) Stampede.
It’s the hours away from the rink that set Fleming apart from many players in the USHL and — he hopes — in college hockey.
“It’s a long season,” said Fleming, a former Mayo High School boys hockey standout, who went on to play at Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, then with the U.S. National Team Development Program, before landing in Sioux Falls last season. “We’re playing two or three games every weekend. You want to stay as fresh as you can.”
That’s where the unusual part of Fleming’s routine comes in.
He graduated from high school nearly a year ago, but knew he needed to stay sharp academically while playing one more season of junior hockey before heading to Notre Dame in the fall of 2023.
The 6-foot, 203-pound forward who turned 19 last month, is doing just that, supplementing his work at the hockey rink in some unique ways.
“Cole Sillinger, he played here in Sioux Falls, then jumped straight to the (NHL’s Columbus) Blue Jackets, when he was here he stayed with the same billet family that I stay with now,” Fleming said. “They told me he’d go to hot yoga every Sunday night, so I thought ‘well, if it worked for him, he’s in the NHL now. I’ll try it, too.’
“I enjoy it. It helps the body feel better, especially this time of year when you’re starting to wear down a bit.”
Fleming couldn’t convince any of his teammates to join him, though.
“No, it’s just me and a bunch of 40-year-old moms,” he said with a laugh. “They all treat me like I’m their little kid.”
Sioux Falls’ third-leading scorer — Fleming has 13 goals and 27 assists in 51 games for the 20-26-7, who are battling for a playoff spot in the USHL’s Western Conference — has the academic part of things covered, too.
“Notre Dame is a great academic school; not many classes transfer,” Fleming said, “so there’s a place here called Mathnasium — Rochester has one, too — where I go during the week, and my parents are big on school and academics, so I’m in a book club, too. We do our classic literature book club.
“Book club and hot yoga … it all actually helps a lot.”
Fleming has done everything he can to be his best on the ice, too. He added 10-12 pounds of muscle last summer, while working out early in the mornings at ETS Performance. And returning for one more season of junior hockey has allowed his game and body to mature.
“It’s been really good, coming back (to Sioux Falls) this year,” said Fleming, who has 23 goals and 74 points in 98 games with the Stampede over the past two seasons. “It was a tough decision, but I’m pretty happy with it, working with the coaches here and just having time to develop my game more.
“I want to be able to go into college and make an impact right away and a have a top role on the team. I’m excited with how this season has gone. We want to make the playoffs and we want to win.”
Fleming said he’ll report to Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind., in mid-June and stay there until the end of July. That will allow him to get acclimated to the campus, the hockey facilities and his teammates.
Notre Dame went 16-16-5 this season and narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, which they have qualified for in six of the past eight seasons.
Before Fleming turns 100 percent of his focus to college hockey, he wants to lead Sioux Falls to a USHL playoff spot. The top six teams in each conference qualify for the postseason; the Stampede enter this week in sixth place in the West, but are just one point ahead of seventh-place Des Moines, with 10 regular-season games to go.
“I was fortunate to get an ‘A’ on my jersey this year (as an alternate captain) and that means a lot to me,” he said. “That leadership part of it … I always try to get on the ice early and stay late, work on my game as much as I can and hopefully other guys see what I’m doing and I can lead that way.
“We really want to get into the playoffs and win some games.”