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Sports archive for July 25, 2013

Summit hockey school puts focus on leadership qualities

Local hockey players are soaking up knowledge from some of Canada’s best this week at the annual Northwestel Summit Hockey School.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

FUTURE STARS – Zoe Leas, left, passes a lacrosse ball back and forth with Piper Fordham during an off-ice session of the Northwestel Summit Hockey School yesterday.

Local hockey players are soaking up knowledge from some of Canada’s best this week at the annual Northwestel Summit Hockey School.

The 11th annual camp has been taking place this week at the Canada Games Centre, and features three Jr. A coaches alongside Canadian Olympic hopeful Jocelyn Larocque.

The camp has served to teach 75 children leadership skills while emphasizing hockey fundamentals that are key to player development.

The school has changed its focus to ‘Learning to Lead,’ explained school owner Joe Martin, an assistant coach with the BCHL Merritt Centennials.

Other instructors included Brad Flynn, a coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders, longtime Jr. A coach Doug Hedley, and University of Manitoba assistant captain Becca King.

“We want to teach all of the things we’ve learned in our careers,” explained Larocque, a member of Hockey Canada.

“We stress improvement and hard work. Hopefully, we encourage these players that through hard work and listening, you can be great.”

“We’ve learned a lot of life skills through sport,” added King, who said many hockey skills can translate to life off the ice as well.

To help young players see the full range of future possibilities, the camp featured a variety of players who have been through this exact camp in the past, and have gone on to play high-level hockey.

Examples include former University of Alaska Fairbanks captain Adam Henderson and Jordan Lane of the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, as well as local members of this year’s Team Tri-North, that participated at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.

“We want to show these kids that they can do it too,” Martin explained of bringing back local talent.

“It’s transformed in the 11 years,” he said of the annual week-long school. “It’s a focus on leadership. We’re not just teaching them how to shoot and how to cross-over, it’s more about when these kids go home, they are a little bit more respectful to teammates, and people in positions of authority. The respect
thing is a big thing.”

Brian Kozak, who has formerly worked as a personal trainer with L.A. Kings star Mike Richards, spoke to the hockey youngsters about respect and the life experiences possible through hockey.

“I worked hard and I did all these things, and I had opportunities with the Aboriginals to go play some very different places that were awesome,” he said. “It’s about experiences. Hopefully, I’m a little bit of a role model to them so they say ‘You know what? Maybe if I don’t make the NHL, I can do what Brian does. Maybe I can train some athletes and do some speeches.’ It’s just a different avenue.”

Northwestel donated $10,000 to help run the school, which also receives support from the Yukon Indian Hockey Association.

“Northwestel is pleased to support an event that promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages children and teenagers to stay active,” said Northwestel president and CEO Paul Flaherty.

The school also includes swimming, lacrosse, off-ice games led by local Olympian Jeane Lassen, Aboriginal games and several guest speakers. B.C. lacrosse player Nathan Wilson was also on hand to give camp attendees pointers on his sport.

Northwestel wants to provide healthy recreational opportunities for youth in the territory, explained the company’s Aboriginal liaison Peter Johnston.

“A part of our mandate and social ethics is to give back,” he said. “We want to provide our community with opportunities to have healthy recreation.”

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