The fourth annual Season Opener hockey camp was another resounding success in Rankin Inlet this past week, with 180 local minor minor hokey players and 10 out-of-town players taking part.
The camp ran from Oct. 16 to 21 and included on-ice instruction for every minor hockey age bracket from initiation to midget, as well as offering off-ice training sessions and a literacy module.
The Season Opener camp has seen more than 600 kids come through the Rankin arena to participate since the program started in 2014.
The 2017 edition saw Adriana Kusugak once again deliver the literacy module, while her husband, Pujjuut Kusugak, oversaw the off-ice instruction.
Camp organizer and top on-ice instructor David Clark said the camp hired a number of youth leaders to help out during the week.
“The younger youth leaders who helped run the camp are just out of high school and seeing that also makes me very proud, especially with many of them having participated in the camp for three years and now they’re out helping to run it and that’s pretty incredible,” said Clark.
The camp concluded with a game day on Saturday, Oct. 21. As the week progressed, the players became more and more eager for game day to arrive.
“They were eager to learn and they had a great time during the entire week,” said Clark.
“Hockey is moving more and more in the direction of skill and skating and we’re following along and doing our part with the development of our players.”
Clark said the instructors rarely touch upon team strategies or approaches during the week, instead focusing on individual, rather than team, achievement.
“The camp is about helping to make each and every one of the players who attend a little bit better,” he said. “The season is for putting the emphasis on team aspects, while this camp is all about is skill development.”
Clark said he hopes to secure more money to run future editions of the camp.
“I’d like to be able to add a lunch program because it can be hard on the parents, and the players, with their lunch hours being at different times. I hope to make that a reality for the 2018 camp,” he said. “Our community makes the camp happen. Every single person out at this camp is from Rankin Inlet, and I’m very proud to say that. It’s a made in Rankin and run by the community of Rankin camp, and that’s the way we like it in this community.”
The Rankin Inlet Minor Hockey Association is still looking for one more atoms coach, he said, and time is running short with the season set to begin this week.
“I’m a little concerned about it, to be honest with you, with our regularly scheduled ice times set to begin,” said Clark.