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Otters Hockey Camp, Day One

Last night was the first night of the Erie Otters adult hockey camp at the Tullio arena. I'm playing winter hockey this year and was excited to get on the ice.

I came away a bit disappointed, though, with the first session. With four more to go, I'm not sure how much I'm going to get out of this experience.

I learned to ice skate when I was 16, played roller hockey in college, and haven't done much in the six years since. I've certainly never played ice hockey nor worn anywhere near as much equipment as ice hockey requires, so I knew that adjusting to the weight and bulk of my equipment was going to be difficult enough on its own. I used to be able to skate backwards pretty well, I used to be able to slide stop (though only two-footed and really only on my "good" foot), but am out of practice.

I was hoping to be able to work on all of those kinds of things: getting used to the equipment, working on the fundamentals, etc. Unfortunately, that's not how the session went.

We began with crossovers and figure eights, both without a puck and then with a puck. We moved to backwards skating, more puck handling, standing crossovers, and super-tight turns, stops, etc. Later, we worked on passing while stationary and then while skating, then combined it with jumping over crossbars (a stick across cones) and shooting on a goalie. Yikes!

Instruction was sparse and the assumption seemed to be that all the participants had the fundamentals down prior to starting. Though I often enjoy playing against better players than me, I don't necessarily want to learn or practice with better players. They're working on different things and my presence probably detracts from their learning. It's like putting a fifth grader in a trigonometry or calculus class.

Between 1/3 and 1/2 of the players were struggling and would have benefitted from having the class split into opposite ends of the rink. I'd go with the other beginners to work on fundamentals: turning, crossovers, skating backwards, slide stopping, puck-handling, etc. The intermediate or advanced skaters could run the drills we all did the first day.

I've sent an email or two to my team captain (who is participating and has done a great job) as well as a man named Mark who is handling the camps for the Otters. I believe you're better off not practicing than practicing poor fundamentals, so I may be asking for a prorated refund if the beginners can't be accommodated. I hope not to have to do that, of course.

Pants and Fitness
The hockey pants I had were way too big. I couldn't take two steps without them falling down. Fortunately, I was able to tape them up last night (it helped a little, but not completely) and

Finally, it's incredible how out of shape I am for hockey despite being so in shape in other ways. Last night kicked my butt. I didn't hydrate well during the day and was actually a bit dizzy. I lost three pounds in water weight alone last night.