Homegrown southern hockey for Arkansas kids

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The World Cup has wrapped up, and now it's time for Arkansans to start thinking about baseball, football and…ice hockey?

Of all the sports camps for kids this time of year, the one at the Arkansas Skatium Hockey Camp in Little Rock has to be the coolest.

Organizer Mark Scott is a Canadian living in Central Arkansas. He landed here after a minor league hockey career wrapped up about 10 years ago.

Now, he coaches the dozen or so kids sharp enough to lace up the skates and hit the rink at the hottest point of the summer.

While the chance to get out of the hottest temperatures of the season into the strongest air conditioner in the city is obvious, these southern kids have found hockey for other reasons.

"I'd lived in Georgia and I went to a hockey game and that's how I got into hockey," said Bennett Tinnermon of West Little Rock.

John Reese said he loves the way plays develop in hockey. That was music to the ears of his parents.

"I was excited because I like hockey, so I kind of influence him a little," says Lori Reese with a laugh. "My husband likes hockey too. We were happy that he liked it."

The camp lets kids work on their skating, with Coach Scott drilling them with relays where everyone has to drag a partner across the ice.

Skating is one hockey skill kids around here don't get many chances to practice. That's because the Skatium is one of very few rinks in the entire state.

It means several of the campers got their start because their parents moved to the Natural State from places where hockey is more a part of the culture.

"We were very excited," said Heather Runions while watching her son, Josh, stuff his hockey bag after on-ice drills. "We came here from Upstate New York, near the Canadian border, and my husband especially because he played in [a major junior league] when he was younger."

For parents considering getting their sons and daughters into the game, experienced hockey moms say they're not overly concerned being involved in a sport known for its contact.

"When they're so young, they have the no-checking rule," said Reece. "There are checking clinics they can go to when they get older. They bring safety to the game."

The kids get safety, and deliver excitement.

"I love it," said Runions. "You get right into it. You end up yelling more than the kids."

For more information about the hockey camp, click here.


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