Ferris State hockey camp breeds Bulldogs of tomorrow

BIG RAPIDS — Bob Daniels and the Ferris State hockey coaching staff have been working with what might be the college hockey players of tomorrow the last couple of weeks during FSU’s annual hockey camps.

The camps, now in their third session this week, work with hockey players from ages 7 to 18 on developing new hockey skills, off-ice training techniques and a love for the game, Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. Campers have come from as far as Missouri, Illinois and China to attend, but many of the campers are concentrated from throughout Michigan.

BREAKING AWAY: A participant in the Ferris State hockey camp’s 8-year-old group makes his way toward the goal during a scrimmage at Ewigleben Ice Arena. Hockey camps continue throughout the rest of this week. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

“We like to work on teaching them how to train off the ice,” he said. “With younger kids, it’s obviously more about having fun. As they get older, you want to give them things they can take with them so that they can get better without always having to be on the ice.”

Daniels said a typical day during four-day camp sessions includes three one-hour on-ice sessions per day and two one-hour off-ice video sessions each day. The players receive one-on-one instruction from Daniels and assistant coaches Drew Famulak, Dave Cencer and Mark Kaufman as well as a number of camp counselors.

Players typically work on individual skills in the morning sessions like skating, passing, shooting and stick handling, while evening sessions are reserved for scrimmaging.

As the camps get into the older age groups, Daniels said the on-ice sessions are run much like Ferris State structures its practices.

“Obviously you have to simplify it a little, but we try to make it as much like one of our practices,” he said. “Off the ice, the training we do is scaled back, but not totally different than what we do with our own players. We also do video sessions, where we’ll have them watch and break down some of the things we do as a team.”

Video sessions are a valuable tool for campers of all ages, Daniels said, and can be used to teach off-ice training and give players a better idea of what they need to work on individually.

The entire experience equates to a good experience for children of all ages, regardless of how serious they are about playing hockey at the collegiate level.

The goal, Daniels said, is instilling a love for the game of hockey in campers and hopefully giving them the know-how to continue playing the sport after they are out of high school.

“I particularly enjoy having the older kids here and starting to talk to them about what they need to do if they want to pursue playing at the collegiate level,” he said. “Things like grades and off-ice training are some of the things I like to talk to them about. But as long as they start to get an appreciation for this sport and like it enough that they continue to play it as they become adults, we’ve done our job.”

Jack Somsel, an 8-year-old from Big Rapids, said the camp taught him a number of different skills, but it was most entertaining when he got a chance to hit the ice and play against other campers. The camp is the second one Somsel has attended this summer.

“I probably enjoy the scrimmages the most,” he said. “I think it helps you become a better player.”

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from the camp.

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