Skating through summer
VAIL ” One by one, the young hockey players explode forward and then reverse direction to prevent the puck from entering an untended goal.
Some succeed in keeping the puck out of the net, others don’t, but they’re here at the Dobson Ice Arena to practice, practice, practice during Planet Hockey’s one-week camp in Vail for 6- to 16-year-olds.
“I’m learning how to get explosive starts and how to spin faster,” said 12-year-old Jonnie Nolan of Gypsum, who hasn’t been on the ice for six months.
The camp is an opportunity for hockey players to get some ice time in during the off-season lull of summer as well as improve their skating techniques with experienced hockey players with Superior-based Planet Hockey.
“It’s geared toward individual player development,” instructor Josh Biser said. “Everybody has a tendency to develop bad habits.”
So the instructors teach proper technique ” efficiency, body position, stride and other skills. At the end of the camp each player gets a report card and video to see what they’re doing wrong and need to improve upon.
This year 40 kids, mostly local, participated in the camp. Some say the instructors teach in an almost military-like fashion.
“They seem to make it a lot of fun for the kids,” said Mike Barron, whose 8-year-old son attended the camp. “The coaches are like drill sergeants at some times, but by the end of the week (the kids) are all smiles.”
Hockey camps like this are important to keep kids sharp during the warmer months, Biser said.
“In the summer kids don’t have a lot of skate time,” he said, adding it’s also difficult to compete for skating time in the winter during team practices.
Biser separates and emphasizes the importance of learning to skate and team practice in which players learn strategy to compete in games.
“Development-wise as far as hockey goes, that’s where kids are going to benefit,” Biser said.
Barron said he believes the importance of summer hockey camps is to grow the sport locally.
“The Vail rec league ” the programs are just dying,” Barron said. “A lot of kids are dropping out. They’re just losing enthusiasm for the game. Without camps like this, they probably wouldn’t play hockey.”
Planet Hockey began 12 to 13 years ago, Biser said. The group travels nationally, catering to local residents who generate enough interest in the community to hold a camp.
Biser got involved several years go as a 16-year-old living in Madison, Wisc. He attended a camp and was asked by a coach to join Planet Hockey as an instructor.
“For me I’ve kind of grown up through the camp,” Biser said.
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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