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Floor hockey adds variety to IC camps

BY TAYLOR AXELSON | JUNE 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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It's not basketball, football or soccer. It's not a usual summer-camp sport.

Seven boys between the ages of 6 and 12 are participating in a camp this week that is based on a game that most people only experience in gym class during school: floor hockey.

It's not the most common of summer camps provided by Iowa City Parks and Recreation Division, but it gives the students something new to learn.

"Floor hockey is a really fun sport," coach Jennifer Dooper said. "It's a place the kids can come early in the morning to get some of their energy out before the day starts."

Floor hockey is very much what it sounds like. It has basically the same rules as ice hockey, but instead of on ice, it is played on a gym floor.

After doing a few warm-ups without holding a stick, the students learned certain grips for dribbling, passing, and shooting without touching a ball.

There was a moment of confusion when balls were added to the equation as the little players tried to dribble on their own. Green, blue, red, and yellow playground balls rolled in every direction.

So why floor hockey?

One of the biggest reasons children get involved in sports is because they are exposed to them by their family.

"We have hockey stuff set up in our basement, and we play hockey. We're big Detroit Red Wing fans," said Michelle Bessman, a mother of two of the students. "Grant has played ice hockey through the Coralville program. I know [my younger son] Kenneth would like to, but he's younger, so he hasn't gotten to it yet."

Then again, there is always the chance that the young athlete is curious about an activity he might not of heard of before.

"They're doing some other sports this summer, too," Brian Morris said about his two sons enrolled in the program. "They each got to pick a class they wanted to take. My oldest picked tae kwan do, so they're both in that. My youngest just decided to do floor hockey. I'm not really sure why he wanted to. I don't think he's ever even seen hockey before."

The students began to get more comfortable with all the new equipment, so the coaches decided to start practicing penalty shots, with the coaches taking turns as the goalie. This immediately turned into a competition as to who could get the most goals.

Dooper readied into position as goalie while coach Dani Meirick told the players to make as many goals as they could in one minute. She started the timer. Flurries of all different colors flew at Dooper as each player tried to get his ball in first.

Some of the campers have been underexposed to ice hockey and field hockey as a sport, but already on the first day of their class they've picked up a healthy enthusiasm for it.

The newly formed team huddled together, and the kids put their hands in. They yelled "Red Wings," and all seven boys left their first day of class tired and happy.

"I think floor hockey is something different to do, and I think it's great to expose young kids to the different sports that are available, because you don't know their interests yet. It could be something that they really enjoy," Meirick said. "They can also use skills they learned from other sports and apply it to floor hockey. I think it is good for them to make those connections."


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