PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- As USA Hockey Adult Hockey Coordinator Rich Hansen put it, “Everyone ends up in an adult league sometime.”
Thirty participants, men and women ages 21 and older, gathered Saturday morning at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, to kick off the USA Hockey Adult Skills Clinic. The skaters were led through a variety of skating, passing, stickhandling and shooting drills to further develop basic hockey skills.
“We kind of changed it up and made it more of an [American Development Model]-style practice where they’re moving a lot more and station-based, and we got pretty good feedback from the participants so that was good,” Hansen said. “The main point of this is to have fun and try to learn as much as you can in a short period of time.
”It’s always nice to see when you show someone how to take a slap shot, and they pick it up and have a smile on their face. These people want to learn, they want to get better, and that’s why we’re here.”
As USA Hockey Manager of Adult Hockey Katie Holmgren pointed out, a lot of the participants picked up hockey later in life and, as a result, never received proper coaching. Though it’s a short clinic, Hansen and Holmgren said they hope the players can take home the lessons they learned and practice on their own and in their respective adult leagues.
“The cool part about a lot of this is that a lot of these people didn’t start playing until they were adults, so they never got coached,” Holmgren said. “These kind of clinics and Hockey 101s and things give them an opportunity to get the coaching that they’ve never gotten before, even though it’s just three sessions.
“It’s something they may never have been taught, so it gives us an opportunity to have a little bit of fun with them. We can keep them moving with an ADM-style practice, but then they can ask us questions.”
Though many view adult hockey as simply a recreational way to continue playing past your competitive days, Holmgren pointed out that USA Hockey, in fact, holds national championships for age groups up to 70-plus, so the competition is certainly still there.
“I think it’s awesome. We have 70-plus nationals, so we have people playing literally until they can’t skate anymore, whether that’s by their choice or a doctor told them they can’t,” Holmgren said. “This kind of stuff is important. They’re out there having fun, they want to learn just as much as a kid does, sometimes even more, so they’re better sponges. Anything we tell them to do, they’re going to do it, because they want to learn.”
The USA Hockey staffers said the organization hopes to hold more events like the Adult Skills Clinic at its newly purchased arena, a facility that is now also home to the U.S. National Team Development Program.
In addition to general maintenance and wall-to-wall rebranding, two stories are being added off the back of the Olympic-sized ice sheet on the east side of USA Hockey Arena — one of which will feature a state-of-the-art training facility and the other will hold conference rooms, offices for USA Hockey staff, classrooms and a theater room, which the NTDP aims to make available for local youth hockey organizations and other USA Hockey education programs.
“That’s really important for our company as a whole and being able to do events that highlight not just the National Team Development Program, but highlights it to potential fans,” Holmgren said. “But it’s also nice for us to be able to use the facility and bring other events to it.”
Hansen said it was his first time inside the building and, despite the heavy renovations in year one, echoed Holmgren’s sentiments.
“It’s great, we’re excited about it, obviously, back at the office,” he said. “This is my first time out here and, obviously it’s under heavy construction, but they’re going to do it right. It’s going to be a beautiful facility, so we’ll be back here next year running the clinic and maybe we can get two or three more out here.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.