Sharper skills for a cutting edge
Eagle Valley Enterprise
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colorado – About 30 youngsters stormed the Eagle Ice Rink last month for the first-ever Battle Mountain High School Hockey Clinic.
The Huskies’ head coach, Gary Defina, an assistant coach and 12 players spent 90 minutes molding mites, mini-mites and squirts (5- to 10-year-olds) into future hockey stars.
“My players have done mentoring programs before, but this is the first time we’ve tried this clinic format,” Defina said. “It was (Eagle Pool and Ice Rink manager) Sheryl Staten’s idea.”
Staten said it’s good for the young kids to mesh with the older ones.
“We have hockey programs for the younger kids, and it’s good for them to look up and see that they can play in high school,” she said.
Defina said he did not expect so much participation.
“We’ll do it again,” he said of the clinic.
The Battle Mountain team benefited two-fold from the event. The Huskies are the only high school hockey team in the valley, which means some of the youngsters the team members coached last week will play for them in the future. And at $15 per child, the clinic also raised funds for the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District Youth Hockey Program and the Huskies, who have to buy ice time on a yearly basis.
“Everybody is in need of fundraising these days,” Defina said. “Our team is pretty much self-funded. We have some sponsorship, but that has declined with the economy.”
The best benefit, however, was fun. The kids participated in a variety of drills and games, such as “Star Wars” and “Sharks and Minnows,” which were sort of like capture the flag and tag, respectively. Even the high school players enjoyed themselves.
“My whole team wanted to help with the clinic, but I could only use about half of them – 10 players and two goalies,” Defina said.
In the locker room afterward, the Huskies were smiling and agreed they had a good time.
“It’s great how kids in this community embrace the younger ones,” said Julie Hains, whose 5-year-old son, Max, was participating in the clinic.
Hains said no one else in the family skates.
“A couple other boys got him into it, and he started this year,” she said. “He’s obsessed. He idolizes these kids.”
One of Max’s older friends is Ty Murray, 9, who was also at the clinic.
“Ty gave Max some hockey socks, and now they are all he wears,” Hains said.
When asked what he liked best about hockey, Max said, “Shooting!”
Ty is learning how to play goalie and trained extensively with the Battle Mountain goalies at the clinic.
Ty said he wants to be a goalie because he likes “being counted on.”
The high school players had fun working with him.
“He was so serious; I kept trying to make him laugh,” Huskies goalie Michael Brunk said.
“Maybe he was scared of your face,” joked Brunk’s teammate, referring to the imposing set of pads and face protection that goalies wear.
Ty said he didn’t think anything of it.
“Our goalies are really good, so I’m glad they had a couple kids to work with,” Defina said.
Erik Bolster said his son, Drew, 8, is excited to play for the Huskies someday.
“This clinic is a good opportunity for him to skate with older kids,” he said.
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