The Columbia Valley Rockies are preparing for their Spring Camp April 14th to 16th. The weekend is an opportunity for young athletes to be recruited by the team. For the past three years, the camp has been co-hosted by BCHL team Langley Rivermen.
“We have a good relationship with their ownership and staff; our program is based on something very similar to theirs. We’re looking for exactly the same sorta players but at a different level. So they’re up looking at the absolute best skaters, best skills, whereas we’re looking at the exact same thing, but we’re looking at it from a KJHL level,” said Rockies president Graeme Anderson.
The camp attracts anywhere from 80 to 110 athletes who are organized into five or six teams depending on numbers. They are then assessed on their game play. On the Sunday, they play two games of blue team versus white team with 40 athletes on the ice per game.
“Some of the players on the ice will be our existent, the players that we have that are likely to return next year. The reason for that, we try to balance the level of experience out over the five or six teams that we put on the ice over the camp. They’re all playing on an even field. Really, we try and make it as even as possible,” said Anderson.
While most athletes are at the camp to earn an invitation to training camp with either the Junior B Rockies or Junior A Riverman, some come for the experience.
“We also give opportunity to younger players that aren’t maybe quite ready to move up to junior yet, or maybe, in fact, a few months too young to play junior this year, but it adds to their development because they come, they get the experience of what level they’re going to have to play at to play junior, perhaps next season,” said Anderson.
The Rockies also make an effort to include midget level players to get an idea of what future athletes and skills are in the Valley.
“We also try very hard to get as many local midget players through that experience as well, because it gives us a good idea of where they are and lets them see what we’re looking for and helps us give as many local players an opportunity to play junior,” said Anderson.
The camp, according to Anderson, is pretty unique in that kids from not only Eastern B.C. but also Western Alberta have the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of both Junior B and Junior A assessors.
“We try to get a good panel of assessors, not just the teams, but independent people, people that officiate at games just to get a really good look at these kids. The more eyes you have looking at them the better because it’s a lot of hockey to watch over the weekend,” said Anderson.
After the camps finish, the assessors meet with every athlete and go over their performance throughout the weekend.
“At the end of each camp, every player gets an exit interview whether they’re being asked to come to a main camp with either us or Langley or not. They all get an exit interview that tells them where they’re at, what we should look at and what they need to do,” said Anderson.
The camp provides athletes the opportunity to “play up”, as Anderson put it, giving them the chance to experience the calibre of play they’ll need to make the Junior level. Camp registration fee is $200 — it includes a jersey the athlete keeps, Gatorade, and granola bars. More information can be found at https://goo.gl/ZTj8Rd.