Steamboat Springs When Shannon Miller was Teagann Yeager's age, there wasn't a women's hockey camp like this anywhere around.
Miller, fresh off her fourth national championship as coach of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, can remember having to play with the older girls when she was young. That's why the three-time world champion and Olympic coach runs hockey camps - like the one that's taking place at Howelsen Ice Arena this week. The camps are designed not only for 11-year-olds such as Teagann, but for any girl interested in playing hockey.
The camp, which started Monday and concludes today, brings girls 8 to 16 years old together for four days of intensive work with Miller and USA Olympic team member Julie Chu.
"We want them to be exposed to female role models," Miller said after Wednesday's session. "Myself as a coach or Julie as an Olympian. This gives them some different coaching that's not just volunteer coaches."
In addition to on-ice work, girls are versed in dry-land training, nutrition, teamwork and hockey philosophy.
"It's really fun," said Teagann, who also attended the camp last year. "Since they've coached really good teams that have won championships, they know what they are doing."
Miller said at the camp, she stresses fundamentals such as skating and handling the puck. She said the girls get a lot of time working with coaches and playing with girls from surrounding areas.
"The nice thing about a camp this size is you can put girls relatively close in age and level in one group," Miller said.
For 16-year-old Sam Kenney from Montrose, skating on the same ice as Miller and Chu was a dream come true.
"It's so cool," said Kenney, who hopes to parlay some of the skills she learned at camp to a spot on a AAA team. "At first, I was star-struck. I couldn't focus. Now I listen to every little thing they say. You can always relearn the basics, and Shannon Miller and Julie Chu are two of the biggest names in women's hockey."
Miller said the camps are a nice break from the rigors of the college season. She said it's refreshing to work with younger girls with a different skill set than she is used to working with.
She said it's also nice to see a town such as Steamboat Springs embracing women's hockey.
"It's great the city of Steamboat supports the development of girls hockey," she said. "It's important to have a community support female athletics."
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