The 2008 Blue Jackets Hockey School concluded August 15, wrapping up an exciting and educational experience for campers, coaches and some Blue Jackets players.
Local hockey players age seven and up participated in the week-long camp, which provided the youngsters with a unique, one-on-one interaction with many of Ohio's finest hockey coaches at the high school and collegiate levels.
"I've had a great time coming to hockey school, because it's always fun to help kids learn the game." - Blue Jackets Forward Tom Sestito
The Chiller North at Polaris hosted the camp, and Camp Director/Chiller General Manager Rob Schriner was thrilled to have so many respected coaches travel to Columbus to help teach hockey fundamentals and teamwork.
"This gives the kids a different flavor," Schriner said. "A lot of them are local kids, and they've seen our local coaches (in central Ohio). The hockey community is small, and it's great to have these coaches come in from out of town."
Among the visiting coaches was Ohio University Head Coach Dan Morris, known for preaching fundamentals to his own players in Athens. Morris said that with younger players, everything needs to be taught from the ground up, beginning with solid fundamentals.
"The kids (in the camp) are of a wide-range of skill sets," Morris said. "We really emphasize the basics and fundamentals to these kids, because that's the foundation and what they have to build on.
"But the other side to fundamentals is fun, and we're really trying to make this fun for them."
In addition to daily on-ice instruction from the group of coaches, Blue Jackets' players Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard and Tom Sestito each visited the camp from August 5-7, and Assistant Coach Claude Noel visited the adult camp on August 8. The players and Coach Noel had a chance to interact with the ca
mpers on the ice as well as sign autographs and speak to them off the ice.
"I've had a great time coming to hockey school, because it's always fun to help kids learn the game," Sestito said. "There are a lot of coaches here for them, and (Brassard and Dorsett) enjoyed being out here, too. This is a good experience all around for everyone."
Brassard had an immediate connection at the hockey school, having been through very similar programs at the same age.
"Seven, eight years ago I was in their shoes, attending hockey camps," Brassard said. "It's a fun day for me to come here and have some fun with the kids. It's pretty important for me to come here."
Brassard was impressed with the questions asked of him by the youngsters.
"Sometimes, the questions are just simple," Brassard said. "They want to know what I eat, and what NHL players do. When I was young, I remember asking the same questions."
Blue Jackets assistant coach Claude Noel was a guest instructor for the adult session (August 8-10), which included a social event for the campers and Noel.
Following their time on the ice, all three Blue Jackets players took time to sign autographs and talk with camp participants.
Blue Jackets mascot Stinger also made appearances at camp throughout both weeks of camp, taking time to hit the ice with some of central Ohio's youth hockey players.