Females adopting an interest in playing hockey have been progressing at incredible rates in recent years. More females are becoming involved in the game, which is allowing for more competitive female teams to be organized. Last week the Pittsburgh Penguins held their annual Girls Camp, which confidently reiterated the strength and growth of female hockey in the general Pittsburgh Area, due to the impressive attendance and demonstrated skill level. The camp was held Monday through Wednesday at Ice Castle Arena and included both on and off ice sessions.
One of the benefits of the Girls Camp was having an ‘All female coaching staff’. Instructor Michelle Amidon from USA hockey, ran all of the sessions throughout the week. She was accompanied by former St. Lawrence University player Kate Michael and US Olympic Goaltender, Brianne McLaughlin, who focused on goaltending instruction. This core base group of coaching staff was accompanied by eight other female hockey players who assisted both on and off the ice. Having an all female coaching staff is a definite perk at a Girls Camp, as it opens the eyes of young athletes to the many doors and opportunities that can be attainable for them in the hockey world, as many of the instructors have previously demonstrated through their recent hockey successes.
The ADM (American Development Model) based sessions both on and off the ice were broken into specific time increments to keep the camp movement at a high tempo and fast pace. The girls were broken into two separate groups based on age, and participated in two on ice sessions and one off ice session. The first on ice session focused on skills and technique with all age groups. The specific drills designed for the younger girls differed from those of the older girls, which made for a much more manageable yet challenging session for all ages. The second ice session was designed for the girls to utilize their previously learned skills from the first session, and apply them into game like situations. This ice session consisted of “mini games” and battle drills.
A very important component of hockey is off ice training. Although at very young ages, off ice does not seem to be a focus, it is being thoroughly demonstrated by younger ages that fitness is very beneficial in regards to hockey development. One fitness session each for both the younger and older groups was held. The girls were split into even smaller groups and sent through a number of off ice exercises. The instructors were stationed at a specific exercise each and were able to go through each of the drills with the girls and answer any questions they may have. The goal of this off ice session was to demonstrate exercises that they can be doing when they aren’t in the rink, to improve their on ice development.
Overall the camp proved to be a success. The athletes were accompanied by high level instructors who were able to help motivate the girls to become better hockey players. Although it was a challenge for the girls at points because the instructors pushed them hard, they clearly grasped a better understanding of preparation, determination and commitment. With these basic traits acquired and the raw passion for the game, these girls will be better prepared to reach their goals and dreams, which is the primary mission of the Pittsburgh Penguins Girls Camp.