NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- The Scope has been part of Kyle Rhodes since his childhood.
Hockey is in the blood of Rhodes. The son of a former college hockey player, Rhodes fell in love with the sport at a very early age. Growing up in Powhatan, which is about 40 minutes west of Richmond, he and his family would make frequent trips to Norfolk to see the Admirals play.
"I grew up coming to a lot of Admirals games, especially the year they won the Calder Cup there," Rhodes remembered. "I was a pretty regular [attendee]."
It's an environment that quickly grew on him.
"The vibes in Norfolk, it was awesome," he recalled. "It was always a fun time and it felt like home coming down here and watching the games and everything."
Fast forward to 2022, and Rhodes has gone from the seats to the ice, now wearing the Admirals' logo on his own sweater and skating on the some ice where his childhood heroes once captivated him.
"It's pretty special to come to the games as a kid and then finally get to play a game in The Scope in front of the Admirals' fans," he said. "It's been great. I couldn't ask for anything better. It's been the best life I've lived so far."
"He's worked and developed," Norfolk head coach Rod Taylor added. "He's got himself to be a good player with his skill set and stuff like that so it's really neat to be able to see that."
Now he serves as a role model for those who are where he used to be- in the stands hoping for their chance to hit the professional stage. Whether its fans in the seats, or younger players at his regular morning skate back in Richmond, Rhodes is embracing the chance to help others reach their own goals.
"There are a lot of kids that are a lot younger than me," said Rhodes. "I know they look up to me and there are a few other guys who have moved on in their hockey careers. To be any part of trying to push them to pursue their dreams and playing hockey, that's something huge for me."
"There are little kids here who are trying to become the same thing that he's become," noted Taylor. "Kyle's done a good job. He's a great personality kid, he mingle with the fans and stuff like that."
Of course, Rhodes hopes that Norfolk is just a stop on the journey towards his ultimate goal- taking the ice in the NHL. That's a dream he will have as long as he's able to lace up his skates.
"Until my body can't take it anymore," he responded when asked how long he'll chase the top of the sport. "I don't plan on quitting anytime soon, I'll tell you that."
Rhodes broke into the professional ranks during the 2017-2018 campaign with the Indy Fuel, but bursting onto the scene with the Tulsa Oilers. This is his first season with the Admirals, appearing in 17 games so far, scoring two goals and dishing out three assists.
Norfolk is back in action at The Scope on Friday against Jacksonville.