Elkins will play on water in all forms
The Travel Channel’s website cites Costa Rica as one of the globe’s top surfing destinations. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east, the country offers some of the best surfing conditions in the world, particularly in Puerto Viejo or Playa Naranjo, also known as Witch’s Rock.
For Michigan native and nine-year pro hockey veteran Corey Elkins, the country was also an opportune place to practice his Spanish. As such, it tends to be a go-to offseason destination for the all-round outdoor-sports enthusiast
“We ended up in Costa Rica while researching surf vacations, and have gone back several times since,” he told Pucks and Recreation last week. “I had learned Spanish in high school and college (at The Ohio State University), and had the chance to use that a little bit while we were there.
“Going there was an amazing cultural experience and had a strong impact on my kids. They were three and four when we went, and they still talk about it today.”
Elkins’ love for surfing, waterboarding and related summer sports began at an early age in his hometown of Waterford, the same hometown as NHL legend Pat Lafontaine and current Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. Waterford’s city limits partially touch or fully encompass 34 different lakes. Its county, Oakland County, contains more than 400 lakes.
With that landscape, a love for the outdoors was only a natural part of Elkins’ life. But in addition to water sports, he explores such other outdoor hobbies as hunting, skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing.
This enthusiasm, combined with his labor of love in hockey, has taken the itinerant Elkins all over the world.
Before spending 2017-18 with the Grand Rapids Griffins, his home-state AHL team and the Red Wings’ primary affiliate, Elkins played parts of five seasons in the Finnish Elite League. While in Europe, he reveled in a dream by going on a ski and snowboarding trip in the French and Austrian Alps with his family and teammates. He singled out former HIFK (Helsinki) associate Matt Generous as one of his fellow skiing enthusiasts.
“Generous is a big outdoor guy, and going with some of our friends and family was a memorable experience,” Elkins said. “It was really cool to be able to go with my family and show my kids what it was like to ski in the Austrian Alps. Hopefully, it instills a passion into them for these sports as well.”
Back in the homeland, Elkins has gone snowboarding in Utah and Colorado and hunted in Michigan in the fall with his father. With this zeal for sports away from the rink, he noted that his favorite sport outside of hockey was easy to choose.
“I would have to say snowboarding is my favorite outdoor sport,” he said. “You can be creative on the slopes and get adrenaline from it, so that would have to be my top choice.”
These passions have translated into his on-ice performance as well. This past year, Elkins recorded 20 points in 76 games in his stint with the Griffins.
“With playing these sports, you definitely learn a lot about body control,” he said. “You learn how to be coordinated in the air and you develop callisthenic awareness of where your body is at all times. I know it has made me a better athlete.”
While Elkins got to play in the Red Wings organization this past year, he has since made plans to play for the Grizzlys Wolfsburg in Germany next year. Perhaps another trip to the Alps is in store for him and his family.
However, if given the opportunity, Elkins has a few as-yet-unseen destinations to check out as well. The two he singled out would yield yet more activity on the water in its liquid form.
“Eventually,” he said, “I am hoping to go to Hawaii or Indonesia. Going surfing in one of those places would be pretty special.”