(FREDERICTON, NB) After more than ten months of building a hockey team, largely from behind a desk, Sarah Hilworth was excited to be on the ice.
“Having a buzz in the Aitken Centre, with girls on the ice, was exciting,” said Hilworth, following the first prospects identification camp for the returning Varsity Reds women’s hockey team.
“It was great to be on the ice,” she said. “It’s exciting to know the start of our season is now, really, right around the corner.”
The identification camp, which ran May 4-6 at UNB’s Aitken Centre, attracted 24 players from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Alberta.
“We wanted to focus on development and give them a taste as to what university life is like as a student-athlete,” said Hilworth. “We had them on the ice for three practices and a game, we also did a campus tour, a hot stove session, strength and conditioning sessions, a stickhandling session, a leadership seminar, and some team building activities.”
Hilworth says the camp serves more than one purpose.
Along with providing a development opportunity for female hockey players, it was a scouting opportunity for Hilworth and her coaching staff.
“We’re able to start tracking players that we are really excited about for the future of our program,” she said.
In addition to her own staff, Hilworth welcomed a number of guest coaches, including associate coach Rob Hennigar and goalie coach Kyle MacDonald, from the Varsity Reds men’s team.
Hilworth’s attention now returns to building the team that will take to the ice in the fall.
She’s secured commitments from 17 student-athletes so far and is expected to add as many as six more.
As for running more camps, Hilworth says absolutely.
“The spring camp will become an important piece in identifying and recruiting prospective student-athletes,” she said.
“We’re also looking at running some other development camps, so stay tuned.”