Girls hockey camp concludes in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Girls hockey camp concludes in Steamboat

Annual event for girls led by Shannon Miller

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs hockey player Libby Lukens finds some open room in front of the opposing team’s net during a scrimmage Thursday afternoon at the Howelsen Ice Arena. Lukens was taking part in the Shannon Miller Hockey Camp, which took place in Steamboat Springs this week.





Steamboat Springs hockey player Libby Lukens finds some open room in front of the opposing team's net during a scrimmage Thursday afternoon at the Howelsen Ice Arena. Lukens was taking part in the Shannon Miller Hockey Camp, which took place in Steamboat Springs this week.
John F. Russell

— When Libby Lukens was 6 years old, she attended her first Shannon Miller Hockey Camp in Santa Fe, N.M.

Libby couldn't skate and didn't know much about hockey.

She's now in her fifth year at the camp, and Lukens has progressed beyond just skating and on to the finer points of the game, thanks in large part to the hockey camp.

"The first year, I couldn't skate at all," said Libby, now 11. "I learned how to skate a lot better. Throughout the years, it's helped me throughout hockey, and I do take stuff from this into my season."

The camp, now in its fourth year in Steamboat Springs, hosted more than 25 girls at Howelsen Ice Arena through the week, culminating in a final session Thursday.

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Although the camp numbers were down, similar to camps across the country, the philosophy was the same.

The camp brought girls of all ages and abilities to learn under Miller.

Miller coaches at the Univer­sity of Minnesota-Duluth and is one of the most successful women's coaches ever. She just completed her 11th season for the Bulldogs, with her record fifth NCAA title. She has amassed a 291-78-31 record and led her team to nine NCAA playoff appearances. She also helped coach Team Canada to a silver medal in the 1998 Olympics.

Miller grew up in a small town and often runs camps that draw 100 or more participants.

Although the numbers were down this year, Miller said she enjoyed the small camp atmosphere more.

"It's more personal," she said. "I've done big camps. I've done camps where there are 100 or 150 kids. It's not as relaxed. You don't have as much personal contact with kids. I know every single girl's name in this camp."

The camp focuses on developing skills on and off the ice. In addition to working on shooting, skating and stick handling, the girls at the camp were taught about dryland training, nutrition and proper ways to warm up and cool down.

"I haven't skated in a while," 15-year-old Katie Thielemann said. "So it's getting my feet back under me for the next year."

Although Miller said she hopes the camp gives girls things to work on before their season starts, she also said the camp goes beyond just hockey.

"Most importantly, it's about meeting new friends and building that love for the game," she said. "When they're smiling all the time, it doesn't get any better than that. The biggest thing is new friends and then the love for the game. Skill development is important, but the other two are more important at this stage."