As the temperature hovers around 90 degrees, in Plymouth is enjoying lively business on the ice. The arena is a meeting place for people of all ages and disciplines looking to get a skate up on the competition.
“With hockey starting up again, early August is one of our busiest times of the year,” said Compuware Arena manager Mike Henry. “It’s great to see so many people taking advantage of our facility. We’re happy to provide a service that people enjoy.”
Some people choose to sleep in during the morning hours of the summer. Compuware Arena offers ice Monday through Friday at 7-11 am and dedicated skaters take full advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at a recent Morning Shift at Compuware Arena:
IT’S COOL TO GO TO WHALERS HOCKEY SCHOOL: 31 hockey players ranging from 4-to-12 years old took the ice with Plymouth Whalers Alex Aleardi and Austin Levi, and coaches Brian Sommariva, Scott MacDonald and Joe Stefan at the start of the Whalers annual hockey school.
With Sommariva in charge, the players stayed in motion throughout the five-day school in an ever-changing variety of drills, fun games on the ice, off-ice work and friendly interaction. Parents noticed the positive synergy.
Nicole Wojdelko of Northville (Bryan, 5, is skating in the program): “The school has taught our son discipline and taught him skills that he did not learn in the Learn to Play hockey course. This school has definitely stepped Bryan up a notch.
"The coaches are calling the kids by their (first) name. From the first day, they were encouraging them and were making it fun, yet structuring it so the kids are learning. (Laughing) Bryan is tired when he gets home and very hungry.
"This school is his very first experience with any sort of hockey camp. We’ll be bringing him back, year after year.”
Tim Montgomery, Chelsea (Keegan, 6, and Draper, 4): “The camp is great. You get plenty of player-to-coach ratio, the coaches know the kids by name and interact with them very well. The skills are great. I feel like this is one of the top camps and I’m surprised more people aren’t here.
“They roll from drill to drill to drill – the kids are always moving. The kids are not standing. There’s always something going on and always something fun. Kids are smiling, having fun and learning a lot.”
Dave Lenon, Plymouth (Nolan, 7): “Nolan loves this. He enjoys getting back on the ice this summer. But enjoys fall and spring hockey and then there’s kind on a loll.
“Nolan’s having a lot of fun. The guys are very energetic. We’ve really enjoyed this – this is his third camp.”
Classes run in three-day and five-day segments through Aug. 17. To find out more, please click here.
NO STANDING AROUND FOR FIGURE SKATERS: Offer ice to figure skaters, and they show up.
Utilizing the same work ethic and dedication as hockey players, figure skaters of all ages show up as early as 7 am at Compuware Arena to work on their moves, stay active and continue to improve.
Older skaters come early to get a work out in before going to their jobs.
Five-year-old Audrey Poat of Plymouth simply loves to skate, no matter what the hour. According to Audrey’s mother, Lia, Audrey started skating after watching her brother, Charlie (12) skate.
“I really like (to execute) Edges,” Audrey said. “It makes me happy.”
Audrey then executed an edge, pivoting her foot and twirling around, as well as any five-year-old.
Jen DeJohn, Compuware Arena Skating Director, has seen skaters literally grow up on Compuware Arena ice.
“We’ve had several skaters who started here as babies and are now graduating from high school and are going on to college synchronized programs and earning scholarships,” DeJohn said. “The skaters are always here. We also have hockey players here, taking private lessons this summer and getting ready for Fall. We use every inch of ice we can get.”
Like hockey players, figure skaters train in the summer for long-term gain.
“We’re going on our fifth year of training here, so we’ve a great feeder program from Learn-to-Skate and Learn-to-Play into private lessons,” DeJohn said. “We have figure skaters training for regional competitions coming up this fall We’re also hosting the Synchronized National Championships here in February, so we have skaters getting ready to train on their synchronized teams.
“We have a lot of skaters here in training, trying to get better and raise the bar."
SUMMER SCHOOL FOR FARMINGTON HIGH SCHOOL: Twice a week, Farmington High School coach Mark Vellucci brings his team to Compuware Arena to skate.
For Vellucci and his assistant coaches, the sessions provide an opportunity to get acquainted with a new team. Meanwhile, the players stay in shape and work on skill development.
“We do Monday and Wednesday mornings here from 7:30-9am,” Vellucci said. “The ice and facilities are great. This is a good way to work on individual skills and a way to get ready for fall.
“We work on conditioning and skill development. There’s not a lot of three-on-twos, mostly one-on-one stuff – things that help players work on their skill. It’s especially important for the new guys, to see where they’re at with skill development.
Some guys are more advanced than others. We’ve got seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen here. It’s a good way for the coaches to see the players before Fall starts.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Compuware U-16 girls head coach Tom Byrne wanted to get acquainted with a new team. He decided to run a skills development camp for girls.
“This is my first year with the Compuware team, so it’s all new girls for me,” Byrne said. “The expectations are being met – the girls are happy and everything is going in the right direction. The camp consists of power skating in the morning and puck handling, passing and scoring skills in the afternoon. It’s a camp that covers everything, including conditioning. We also try to make it as fun as possible.
“Some days, we have an hour off the ice and in between, we offer off-ice instruction, as far as proper work-out techniques. We ask the girls what they feel they need to work on, offer examples as to what they can do at home (isometric or small weights), proper techniques with weights and exercises designed to generate to help them create what they want to do (on the ice).
Players constantly look to balance hockey around other summer activities.
“Some girls have other commitments, things like driver’s training and band camps, but we’re getting 15 to 17 on the ice,” Byrne said. “We’ll finish the camp by having a scrimmage. So far, so good – the girls have been enjoying the camp, they’re getting a great work out – hard enough so they’re a little sore, but not so sore that they won’t come back.”
The work and play of skaters at Compuware Arena doesn’t stop at 11 a.m. Indeed, more teams and groups take to the ice all day long.
But that’s another story.