Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association's new director of coaching John Seymour and six local players will open the 2000-2001 season with an edge.
Seymour and the players attended several off-season camps, including one player who made a Festival team and two that attended a high-performance workshop designed to improved their skill levels and help them gain exposure along the road to the U.S. National Team.
"There is no doubt this will give them a jump on the season," Seymour said. "The camps were run by college- and national-level coaches that taught them a few of the secrets of the game."
Seymour added that anytime a player gets a chance to skate with some of the best competition the sport offers, the player improves as well.
"Just the experience made them better," Seymour said of the group.
Seymour also learned from the off-season experience. He coached the Colorado 15 Festival team that won a Junior Olympic Gold Medal in St. Cloud, Minn.
Players making it to national-level teams included Ryan Dingle, who has since moved to Vail to play with that town's Triple A Midget team and who was named to the National 16 Festival team. The Festival rosters are reserved for the top 200 players in the country.
Five midget players including Daniel Coloccia, Chris Ruff, Tim Higbee, John Lalive and Matt LeGrice all advanced to the district camps.
Higbee and Coloccia were both invited to a high-performance workshop based on their showing at the district camp.
Seymour said that the camps will help the players when the youth hockey season hits the ice this November. More than 200 players are expected to take part in Steamboat hockey programs, which including both traveling and house teams.
The camps are sponsored by USA Hockey, the largest governing body of youth hockey in the country. Seymour said the camps are a way for coaches to earmark future players for the national team or college play.