Hockey at the youth and high school levels is unlike any other sport due to the fact that there is more money involved from covering basic operations to putting on summer camps.
The entire Detroit Lakes skating community came together in a short period of time to offer kids extra ice time after the Lamoureux Camp was moved to West Fargo late last week.
The camp had already been postponed as camp organizers tried to work with the city and Minnesota youth sports guidelines to keep it in town.
Hey, ALL FM-Metro hockey players and parents. Head Coach of the @FargoForce @pp_lamoureux will be running two weeks of youth hockey camps at Veterans Memorial Arena in West Fargo, ND this July! Sign up ASAP as spots are limited! pic.twitter.com/tBV2jyjxb9— LamoureuxHockey (@LamoureuxHockey) June 23, 2020
“It’s a combination of things,” Pierre-Paul Lamoureux said. “When we moved it from June to July we planned two weeks of camps and two tournaments.”
Under current guidelines the tournaments were unlikely to happen. The Lamoureuxs have hosted tournaments in Fargo already this summer with teams from multiple states. It just made sense to move the camp for this year given all the uncertainty.
“We’d be losing money with what we’re paying for the ice if we couldn’t do the tournaments,” said Lamoureux.
The tournaments are beneficial to all parties in that each one brings 12 teams to DL each weekend.
The business side of the decision was a no-brainer but comes with an emotional side after three successful summers of the camp.
“It doesn’t come without a lot of emotions too, because we have a lot of good relationships with people in Detroit Lakes,” Lamoureux said. “We enjoy doing it in DL and want to be in DL. We got it going but this year is all messed up. To do stuff like this you have to plan. We’re taking a risk moving it last minute, but I think a lot of the DL kids will still end up coming. Right now, in DL we can only have 18 kids per group and nobody knows when it’s going to change.”
The camp has also contributed back to the hockey programs each summer.
“We donated $8,700 back to the youth association last summer,” said Lamoureux. “I don’t think anybody knows that.”
The camp has donated more than $10,000 to the association in the three years the camp has been in DL and there are currently 40 DL skaters registered for the West Fargo camp, according to Lamoureux.
The Lamoureux youth and goalie camp will be held at Veterans Memorial Arena July 13-23.Cost is $200 for one week, $350 for two weeks. Registration information and forms can be found at https://www.lhdetroitlakes.com/summer-camps
Detroit Lakes coaches and the association met Monday morning to iron out the details on acquiring ice time and putting on a two-week camp, Monday through Friday, July 20-31 at Kent Freeman Arena.
Both high school teams, the hockey association, Lakes Figure Skating Club and the city communicated on how each organization could come together in a four-day span to make it happen.
“It’s hard because there are mixed emotions with everybody here,” said Laker boys hockey coach Ben Noah. “The Lamoureuxs have a great product. We want them here and we work well together and want to continue that into the future. The main focus is when they are here it takes the pressure off of the high school and the youth to be responsible for paying these big dollars for the ice.”
All interested parties in attaining ice in July had to come up with approximately $20,000 for the two weeks. Doing so will allow skaters to take advantage of an affordable product at $150 per kid for the fortnight.
“On the flipside of that, all our coaches are on a volunteer basis,” said Noah.
Jim Kennedy is leading PeeWees, Paul Bender is coaching Bantams, Brendan Cook is coaching Squirts and Noah and Scott Piepkorn are heading up their respective high school teams.
“None of us are getting paid,” said Noah. “That’s the way we want it to be to keep the cost down for our kids.”
Noah contacted Brendan Cook, the youth association director, to start the process of getting the ice time.
“As soon as I knew he was on board, as long as I could get the right people to work as hard as I’m going to work at this thing, then I’m going to start negotiating with the city,” said Noah.
The Arena Commission got involved to help focus on the money needed to get the ice. Noah talked to commission member Chad Carlblom to move forward.
“I was very happy with his response because I wasn’t sure if he was going to say it’s too late,” said Noah.
Piepkorn and Noah had monies committed to nearly the halfway point of the cash needed. The youth program made up most of the rest of it with outside ice purchases by both the figure skating club and Wadena-Deer Creek hockey to round out the numbers.
Noah spoke to head boys hockey coach Scott Woods of Wadena-Deer Creek and the Wolverines were in need of ice time.
What seems like a large amount of money in such a short time is nothing unusual for hockey programs.
“Twenty-grand for two weeks of ice sounds like a big number,” said Noah.
Each skater will get 10 sessions allowing kids to skate for roughly $15 per day.
“We’re really happy with what we are able to offer the kids and that’s what it’s all about,” said Noah.
Next came getting coaches for each program. As an all-volunteer staff, each coach from Noah on down has full-time jobs. A bunch of calls were made to make sure coaches from assistants to heads were available for the camp.
One big hole left by the Lamoureux camp is the coaching aspect.
“That was another challenge to get coaches to commit to coach their group,” said Noah.
Skill development is number one on the list of concentrations for youth players. Each group will vary somewhat. Noah gets a chance to introduce his varsity system to a new group of players and work on team chemistry.
“We want the kids to have fun too; it’s not all business. It’s letting the kids learn to love the game,” said Noah. “It’s pretty awesome that we had all these people step up and do this for the kids.”
Registration information and forms will be available online at Facebook (dlyouthhockey) and the youth association website dlyouthhockey.com and association members will also receive information via email.
Registration forms need to be submitted by Wednesday, July 1.
“It’s short notice, but that’s just what we’re working with,” said Cook. “It’s great that we had so many people come together quickly to give our kids an opportunity to get on the ice.”
As the youth hockey director, it was important to Cook to provide the ice to continue he and the board’s development plans for hockey in DL.
“The vision with what we’re going to be teaching and the message that we’re giving to the kids in terms of what we’re working on,” he said. “Putting that into words and showing the board why we’re doing the things we’re doing and be the face of our development model for our members, kids and parents. Ben and I have worked tightly since he took on his position. We wanted to do a better job of collaborating with our high school coaches to work together.”
Developing an identity and culture, along with putting a better product on the ice by giving players more opportunities and tools are top priorities.
“The reason we feel it is so important is because ice time is at a premium,” said Cook. “It isn’t like going out to the soccer fields. You need a rink. During the winter, there is not a lot of extra time. We’re utilizing time here in the summer to teach some skill work. We’re going to focus on one-on-one skills and puck skills. It’s going to line up with the way we want to play as an association and at the high school level too.”
While much of the recent decisions center around the present, much of those choices are also centered on the future.
“We have a lot of committed people willing to put in their time to leave our hockey association in a better spot than we found it,” said Cook. “It takes a lot of people, including Shiloh Wahl (new association president) to get on the phone and get the board together to agree that we’re going to jump in with both feet and do this. It speaks to the willingness they have to give our kids opportunities and to continue to move the needle forward to get better as a group.”