Twin Ports Pro Development Camp Returns for Sixth Year with New Instructors
Current UMD players Koby Bender and Ben Patt along with pros Brett Olson, Andy Welinski, Brenden Kotyk and 2012 Hobey Baker winner Jack Connolly are all coaching this week, with Connolly and Patt making their first appearances at the camp which runs through Thursday.
SUPERIOR, Wis. – The Twin Ports Pro Development Camp is back for their sixth year, allowing local youth hockey players to learn from the pros and current college players who were in their shoes not too long ago.
“Anytime you can have the chance to skate with an NHL player or past Hobey Baker, you have to take advantage of it,” former UMD defenseman and current South Carolina Stingrays coach Brenden Kotyk said.
“We know that hockey plays a huge part in this community and around the Twin Ports. They had a camp we were growing up playing in that they brought professional hockey players in different phases to come run the camp. we realized there wasn’t really anything going on like that around here anymore so giving the kids the opportunity and access to come on the ice with guys playing professional,” head instructor and co-owner Brett Olson said.
Giving back to the local youth is one of the reasons new instructors join while others return to the camp year after year.
“I grew up playing in all of the camps getting coached by the former college players and pro players and you were enamored by them. Be somebody they can look up to and yeah maybe if they put in the work and learn a few things along the way, why can’t I make it as well,” former UMD forward and 2012 Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Connolly said, who’s instructing at camp for the first time.
Current UMD players Koby Bender and Ben Patt along with pros Brett Olson, Andy Welinski, Kotyk and Connolly are all coaching this week, helping kids learn and improve on basic skills and fundamentals.
“We’re doing just simple stuff that we do out here like catching a pass with your back hand or making a move, a little deception, all of that stuff goes into it so if you can start it at a younger age, as you move up it’s only going to help you,” Kotyk said.
“A lot of times when you do small areas, kids just get thrown in and start spinning around cones but they don’t know why so we have guys that know the game and can teach the kids why they’re doing something,” Olson added.
While also continuing to grow the youth players’ love for the game and prove that they can make it to the pros, too.
“You obviously want to have fun, that’s something my parents and coaches told me growing up is you got to have fun when playing the game that’s first and foremost but also work hard and put your best foot forward, put your best effort forward in everything that you do,” Connolly said.
This year’s Twin Ports Pro Development Camp will continue through Thursday at the Superior Ice Arena and staff say they’re already looking forward to next year.