Every spring for the past six years the University of Iowa Men’s Hockey Club has hosted an affordable youth hockey camp in the Coral Ridge Mall Ice Arena.
I sat down with current Club President and UI junior, Dave Svac, to talk about the developing program and his experiences growing up playing the greatest game on ice. Dave has been a big part of organizing the youth hockey camp for the past three years, and looks forward to another great session giving back to the community and mentoring young players.
Here is a preview of the full interview coming soon:
Dave Svac on UI Youth Hockey Camp-
Madeleine: Welcome everyone to the studio my name is Madeleine Stroth here with “Just Pucking Around” at puckaround.wordpress.com sitting down with current UI Men’s Hockey Club President, Dave Svac. Talking some youth hockey today. Welcome to the studio Dave.
Dave: Thanks for having me.
Madeleine: Alright, so today we’re going to talk a little bit about just hockey clubs in general especially youth hockey. Dave, did you ever have any experiences growing up with youth hockey?
Dave: Yeah you know I started playing when I was about two years old, got on ice. Dad taught me really young. Went to my first hockey game when I was about three months old. Dad took me, I was in Pittsburgh. My mom was scared to death holding me in the stands, you know, flying pucks everywhere. Played growing up. Played some floor hockey. Learned the whole game. Dad had me ice skating all the way and when I was six I started playing club ice hockey and it’s just gone from there through Pittsburgh, into Chicago and now here at Iowa.
Madeleine: Going now, transitioning to, the University of Iowa Club hockey team hosts a youth camp. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dave: Yeah, we’ve actually, this year will be our sixth year running it. It’s just a local camp we do Saturday and Sunday over at the mall in Coralville [IA]. We usually get somewhere between sixty and eighty kids. It’s just something we’ve started because we want to give back to the community and keep growing hockey in the Iowa area. Coming from Chicago where there are sixty rinks within an hour of me, and coming to Iowa where there’s only fifteen rinks total, it’s not as big of a sport here in Iowa. You’ve got great wrestling and football and all of that, but it’s our way to give back to the community and keep growing hockey and keep growing the Iowa hockey name so that one day we do hopefully become and NCAA team. The kids that volunteer and us that run it really look at it and go, there have been so many people in our lives that have given to us, that we want to give back to all of them.
Madeleine: So what’s your role within this hockey program?
Dave: So for the camp I basically take on, last year it was myself and the general manager, we were the main administrators setting everything up, ordering jerseys and all that aspect, but I also like to take on the role of leading one of the groups. I usually try and take on the five to eight year old group, which is our younger one. It’s fun to organize everything, but I actually want to be interacting with the kids. So I’m usually doing a lot of that. That way I can still pull myself away if there’s other people who can take care of stuff for me if there is something going wrong admin. Lot of planning, but at the same time I get to work with the kids which is awesome.
Madeleine: What do you think, you mentioned a little, but what do you think this program does for these kids?
Dave: I think it really, it gives them an experience to interact with us. This will be my third youth camp coming up this spring, and from kids I’ve met freshman year, still coming out to games, and I see them there, they’ve got their jerseys on and they’re all excited after the game giving us high fives and asking for autographs, and in there eyes we’re professional athletes. There is no other hockey in the Iowa City area. They follow us, you know, we’re Hawkeyes just like the football team, this is the big thing, and I think for them we’re teaching them some skills and working with them, but at the same time, this is there experience of getting to be with us and interacting. Which, I remember, somebody would show up and you thought it was the best thing in the world. It’s good to see all the same kids come back. I stay in touch with a couple of the parents, especially of the kids I met freshman year, and they’ll send me pictures of their son playing hockey or I’ll see them on facebook, and it’s just a great thing and it really makes you feel that you’re doing something that matters.
Madeleine: So this is a relatively new program, where do you see the future of it going?
Dave: I’ll obviously be here this year and next year. Hopefully someone takes it over and keeps growing it. When I came in I said, let’s make it as good as we can. So I’d love to keep seeing it grow. The more we can work with the University and the more we keep going and striving I think it’s going to be good, and we’ll just keep growing. We’ve grown from I think fifty kids my freshman year, to sixty last year, and I’ve already gotten about fifteen e-mails this year and I haven’t even set it up for the official date. There’s a lot of interest, so it should be good, so we’re going to keep growing and see what we can do.
Madeleine: Well thank you for coming in Dave, it’s been great.
Dave: Yeah, no problem at all thanks for having me.
Dave seems like a good guy and a good steward for the youth program. I know you’ve talked about doing something to help raise awareness of the hockey program at U of I for a few years and this is certainly a step in the right direction. 15 rinks in the STATE ?!? That’s amazing! And sad. I mean, wrestling is great, but not every kid wants to wear a leotard and roll around on a mat. Some kids have a ‘need for speed’ that only hockey can satisfy. I’m sure the kids in Iowa are no different, in percentage terms, than the kids in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They just need more exposure, opportunity, and support from the community. I hope you continue to spotlight this program.