Boot camp on ice: Spokane Jr. Chiefs host tough youth hockey summer camp
SPOKANE, Wash. — From scuba diving to robotics, rock-climbing to theater, the variety of summer camp options is endless, but the decision for these kids; easy.
Matthew Cordis: “I’d rather go to a hockey camp.”
Even if it’s really a hockey bootcamp, run by the Spokane Jr. Chiefs.
Neil Runbeck: “Tough, tough work. Might look a little like hockey, but it might look a little bit more like a hard work out. This one emphasizes more of the battling, and kind of the strength, and the grit, and kind of fighting through tough situations.”
Not just inside an arena, but outdoors in the 90 degree weather with full gear! To make it even more grueling, who better to bring in than an Army Veteran, that’s survived life or death situations.
James Mercure: “A couple of conflicts in Somalia during the Black Hawk Down, had a nice hardship tour in South Korea for a year, and just learned a lot from the discipline and how it shapes up a young man, and I really enjoy transferring those skills to young players.
Diving, crawling, hitting, pushing. These coaches know what it looks like from the outside, but there are more benefits than discipline alone.
James Mercure: “If you let yourself be pushed around, it’s going to lead up to injuries, I think that’s the biggest eye catcher for even some of the parents that are a little skeptical of some ofthe work we do, it sounds a little bit harsh. But at the end of the day you’re doing a favor to the player so that they have the feel of how to protect the puck, how to protect themselves on the ice.”
A lesson even more important for those who are not going to win the size advantage.
“I’m small, and if I’m against some guy that’s 140 pounds, I have to be alright and I’m actually okay with it, just more strong on my feet. Because if I’m not, I’ll get laid out so much.”
With safer hockey and trying to make this year’s team on their minds, Runbeck also wants these young campers to go home with more than bruises and ice burns.
Neil: “When they leave I want them to know that they can push through some tough situations and be more confident in themselves on the ice, off the ice, and it will just help them in the game of hockey and in the game of life.”
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