The Plymouth Whalers annual hockey schools start with a three-day session starting Monday, July 29. Various schools will run from that point on until Friday, August 16.
Spots for the various schools are going quickly, but some openings remain.
Compuware Arena is a cool place to visit in the middle of summer and gives young hockey players the opportunity to get a jump-start for the upcoming season.
Brian Sommariva works for the Whalers as the team's assistant general manager and embraces an active role as an instructor at the schools:
"There’s something to be said about having fun on the ice," Sommariva said. "If the kids see that you have high-tempo and have energy, you’ll keep their attention. Any time you are doing skating drills for thirty or forty minutes, and you are working with kids from 6-to-12 years old, they’re not going to be very happy about it.
“So you have to find ways to have fun and keep it interesting and be energetic yourself. Sometimes, when players are off in la-la land, you have to find a way to get their attention.
“You come out on the ice some days and you’re a little tired. But you are working with kids and you try to have fun with that. It keeps you energetic. Our instructors are working hard and having a good time.”
Some students have had so much fun they've come back over several years to start their season with the Whalers.
Comments from parents at other Plymouth schools and clinics:
Jodi DiMarco, Chicago, IL (Braden, 6): “He loves this and can’t stop talking about it. He loves being on the ice and loves being with the Whalers. I like the small size of the camp. We’ve done other camps that have had way too many kids in them. Here, they’re getting a lot of individual attention.”
Another attraction of the hockey school is parents and students get to interact with the the Whalers, who aren't that much older than the students:
Deb Bjorge, Northville (nine-year-old Seth, seven-year-old Ryan): “It’s the novelty of being able to skate with the Whalers. It’s big with these guys to try to steal the puck from one of the Whalers. We come to three or four games a year and follow the team closely. They love all the Whalers and they love the game.
“We done this over a couple of years and it used to be just Seth. Over time, Ryan is old enough and it’s a big deal for him, because he watched his brother skate with the Whalers and now he gets to as well."