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Monday, December 11, 2023
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Hockey school for the whole family

Hockey school for the whole family
A player unloads a slapshot during a drill at the NorSask Hockey Development Camp on Friday. -- Photo by Marjorie Roden

Aug. 11-19 this year will see the Art Hauser Centre hosting a series of NorSask Hockey Development Camps. This year, the main companies co-hosting the youth camps – which include power skating, shot development, and goaltender coaching.

Doan Smith is heading up this year’s version after assisting Mark Odnokon in running the camp last year.

“This is the first year the Raiders and Global (Sport Academy Group) have ran it by ourselves, and it’s been great,” Smith said. “Mark’s been great in helping us know what the last 20 years have been like. Now we can help take that and put our spin on it as well. It’s been a great start to the week.”

That new spin includes the addition of CBI Health and their physiotherapy services. Aaron Bergey said it’s an interesting approach to helping players stay health during the season.

“There’s lots of mobility work and taking a strength approach—kind of a progressive approach—to incorporate new evidence based methods to help prevent athletes from getting injured, and to keep them on the ice longer and performing better,” Bergey explained. “It’s an interesting approach that this hockey camp is taking.”

Smith the new approach has had an effect on attendance. They expect to have nearly 300 kids take part over the next nine days.

“In that way, it’s been great,” Smith explained. “Now, just with the community sport, it helps with the hunger for hockey. It’s pretty amazing.”

Instructors said there’s more to the camp than just hockey skills. It’s also about educating the people who support these young athletes—the parents and guardians.

“As a company, CBI Health, we’re really trying to educate more on that (and) make that (information) more available to the parents, and not just the athletes at this age,” Bergey explained. “There’s maybe more things we can do to take a progressive approach.”

There are people who used to play minor hockey as kids who, as a result of the physical abuse their young bodies went through, needed to have three separate knee replacement surgeries in their adulthood. This program kept things like this at the front of the minds of the developers in terms of how to improve player safety.

“I do think there’s a lot more that we can do, and that’s the kind of approach that we as a company, are really starting to take,” Bergey said. “(It’s) a more and more forward thinking kind of approach and using a lot of (medical) evidence that’s based in other kinds of areas where there’s more research, like soccer. (It’s asking) what are they doing to help prevent injuries, and how can we incorporate that into hockey?”

The week-long camp is run by Global Sport Academy. The GSA works with student athletes throughout the school year an athletic development. The Academy works in partnership with NorSask and the Prince Albert Raiders. “It allows us to have that full model of development for the students,” Smith said.

The students are the top priority for the camp. Treating the students respectfully via using a visionary leadership educational model is precisely what is being used at this particular event. 

 “At this young age, it’s really about kind of starting to put these concepts into their heads,” Bergey said. “Obviously, we’re not going to go and do a whole ton of work, or too in-depth with things. 

“It’s more making (the students) aware of new modern approaches that the pros are starting to take and the higher levels (of hockey players) are taking and have been shown to have a really positive benefit. It’s kind of a new style and an evidence based approach, so working with such a young age is a really great place to start.”

Although this year’s school is sold out in terms of space, why would Smith suggest parents sign their children up for the 2023 NorSask Hockey Development Camps?

“One, it gets the kids back to the ice before minor hockey season starts, and we’re still giving the families enough time to enjoy that summer holiday at the lake, which all the families need” Smith began.

“For them to come back and have the Raiders’ development staff involved, and Mark (Odnokon) and the NorSask team still involved, and then the Global Academy development plans as well. We get to work together to build the best plans possible and keep it fun for the kids and add that development piece in there as well.”

For more information about future events with NorSask Hockey Development, visit norsaskhockey.net