With hockey getting back into what it used to look like before the world fell over, it means camps can return.
One camp which had been popular for many years was Hockey NWT’s All-Female Development Camp, open to young female players from around the NWT and an early-season refresher, if you will.
This week saw the camp return for the first time since 2019 with approximately two dozen girls hitting the ice at the Multiplex for four days of learning and playing under the tutelage of players from the University of Alberta Pandas women’s hockey team.
Kyle Kugler, Hockey NWT’s executive director, said getting camps back up and running was a step in the right direction for the continued development of minor hockey in the territory, especially for female players.
All of the players this year hailed from Yellowknife and they included Kelsey Impett, who, at 12, was the oldest player at camp. She took on a veteran’s role and she knew she was one of the players the younger ones would be looking up to.
“Normally, I’m the youngest one and I’m playing with the older girls,” she said. “This week, I’m the oldest, so now they’re looking up to me.”
Like any good camp, there was a mixture of on-ice and off-ice work. When the ladies weren’t busy skating, they were working on dryland training and playing games at the Fieldhouse along with team-building sessions, among other things. The on-ice work consisted of skills and drills in such area as puck-handling, skating and shooting.
One of the instructors this year was Yellowknife’s own Taylor Catcher, a very familiar face to anyone who’s played minor hockey in the city for the past few years. She’s about to begin her first year at U of A and will kick off her season on Sept. 6.
She said coming back to coach at the camp she once participated in was a strange feeling at first.
“It was really weird having them call me ‘coach’ when we started,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t ready to be called coach because I still feel like I should be playing out there. The last time I was out there as a player was 2016 and that feels like a long time ago.”
Catcher and the coaching staff had practice plans in place depending on what age group would be out on the ice. But all of the players were put together into one large contingent and that meant changing things up on the fly.
“We thought we would do different drills for different age groups, but when we found out it would be all one group, we just figured out who would be in what group and work on whatever needed to be worked on,” she said. “We worked on the basics for the younger ones and a bit more advanced drills for the more experienced girls.”
The experienced players like Impett were the ones that the coaches leaned on to help make sure everyone knew what was going on, she added.
“We noticed some of the younger ones were hanging around players like Kelsey and that was nice to see,” she said.
Being one of the older players also gave Impett a chance to see who she could be playing with for future events down the road.
“I know almost all of them, but there’s a few new girls that I haven’t seen before,” she said. “If they stick with it, they’re going to be the next members of Team NT.”
Thursday was the final day of action, but not everyone was on the ice as some had to return to school.