|Doing drills at Oilers Hockey School (photo: Andy Devln / EOHC)
While there is no shortage of hockey camps here in the heart of Oil Country, there’s one that sticks out in the minds of students, parents and even the coaching staff. The Edmonton Oilers Hockey School presented by Cenovus is a unique opportunity for young players to develop their skills and character with the guidance of top quality hockey instructors.
“The whole experience, it’s life changing for [my son]. The confidence he gets out of here, the skills, everything is just top notch,” said Paul Schroeder, the father of a hockey participant.
In its third week, the camp has seen over 700 kids aged five through 14 take to the gyms, rinks, and classrooms of Servus Place in St. Albert. Upon arrival at camp, the students’ unique experience is enforced from the get-go with the presentation of their very own Oilers Jersey to don throughout the week.
“They get an Oilers jersey and right away they feel prestige,” said hockey instructor, Dwain Laing. “They watch their heroes on T.V. and at the games and at Oilers Hockey School they feel like part of the club.”
The premise of Oilers Hockey School is focused around teaching students from an early age the benefits of hard work and challenging yourself to be the best - both on and off the ice.
For the on-ice portion, students learn the fundamentals of hockey through professional power skating instruction that utilizes the schools leading edge equipment and methods, instruction in various types of stick handling and shots, and of course by participating in game situations.
“The quality of the coaching and instruction is second to none in Oil Country, I think that’s what makes the on-ice part so successful,” said hockey instructor, Dylan Stanley. “This camp represents the Oilers passion for supporting minor hockey and hockey players and it gives the kids the best experience they can have.”
|Players get together for a photo with the Oilers' Colin Fraser |
(photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
Off the ice, students partake in conditioning drills, exercises and various games that all work towards the goal of producing well-rounded athletes. As well, classroom sessions help students gain insight into the disciplines of personal health and wellness and being leaders both in the game and out in the community.
“At a young age it’s the time to teach kids everything about the game, and that doesn’t include just the on-ice stuff. It includes training off the ice, nutrition, taking care of yourself and it’s also one of the things that sets this hockey school apart from most,” said Stanley.
Together, the on- and off-ice components create a week full of skill development, confidence building and learning lessons that will carry on in the real world; but for some, that one week isn’t enough.
Terry Arnold has two grandsons aged five and six and a half. Both have attended all three weeks of Oilers Hockey Camp and are already registered for all three sessions of next year’s camp.
“The reason I keep bringing them is because if you want to be good at anything, it’s practice, practice, practice. So we look for the best hockey school so they can do just that,” said Arnold.
Compared to other hockey schools in Oil Country, Arnold noted the student to instructor ratio far surpassed his expectations. Because of this high ratio, the instructors have the unique opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the students, providing individual feedback to better enhance their game.
Schroeder added, “It’s bonding with the instructors, a little tap here and a little encouragement there. It’s something the kids look forward to because they look up to these people.”
While most kids come away remembering player visits and meeting new friends, the fundamentals of hockey and character building – both mental and physical – will forever be ingrained in these Oilers Hockey School participants.