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Development Camp Hits the Beach

by Patrick McGrath / Florida Panthers

On day three of Florida Panthers Development Camp, the players took a break from the ice at the JetBlue Practice Facility at Panthers IceDen and hit the beach for some team building activities and a little fun in the sun.

After dreary weather the first two days of camp, the clouds and rain receded in favor of some sun and some good old Florida summer heat.

The players began the day by splitting off into groups for a team building ‘Warrior Quest’ scavenger hunt, and as they have done all week, the Red Team competed against the Blue Team. With objectives like ‘take a picture of a random person doing a handstand,’ and ‘take a picture on the first hole of a golf course,’ there were plenty of laughs as the players returned and tallied up their points.

Running the day’s activities was J.B. Spisso, Lead Consultant from Elite Leadership Training, who said the goal for the day’s beach activities, and the whole week in general, is to help strengthen the communication and the relationships between the players at camp.

“We are trying to develop those communication skills,” Spisso said. “We are trying to forge that foundation for success so that they can help each other.”

Once all the players returned from the scavenger hunt, and once all the points were tallied, the players took some time to enjoy the beach, swimming in the ocean, tossing around a football and playing a little bit of beach volleyball.

While the sand is a much different playing surface than the ice that these players are used to, the volleyball matches were highly competitive. Forward Jayce Hawryluk showed off his hops, firing in a couple of impressive spikes while defenseman Aaron Ekblad looked like he knew what he was doing out there, sending in a couple of tough serves.

The biggest talker on the volleyball courts was probably Manager of Player Development, Brian McCabe, who looked right at home on the sand mixing it up with the young players.

Recently signed forward, and native of Canada’s Northwest Territories, Steven Hodges said the ability to enjoy the warm weather is an excellent perk that comes with playing hockey in South Florida.

“It’s beautiful here in Florida,” Hodges said. “You put your work in at the arena for however long you have to be there and then you can always have fun outside.”

The day capped off with a tug-of-war between the Red Team and the Blue Team. The Red Team had a slight edge on the day after the scavenger hunt but the Blue Team used the tug-of-war to take the lead and emerge as the day’s victors winning three of the four ‘pulls’.

After lunch at the beach, the players headed to a community service event. They will be back on the ice tomorrow at the JetBlue Practice Facility at Panthers IceDen. The week culminates on Friday morning with the Red vs. Blue Game.

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