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FCA Hockey teams with Omaha camp

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FCA Hockey teams with Omaha camp

Existing Omaha hockey camp gets assist from FCA and NHL players 

It's usually best to work as a team, and at a recent hockey camp in Omaha, Neb., two groups of assertive camp organizers found that out firsthand.

NHL players Jeff Hoggan (third from left) and Dan Ellis (third from right) with, among others, FCA Hockey Director Rick Randazzo (second from left)

Four years ago Ross Scholz, an electrical engineer and youth hockey coach in the Omaha area, had a vision to bring hockey players to Christ through youth hockey camps. He teamed with local UNO (University of Nebraska at Omaha) Maverick players David Brisson and James Chalmers and coach Mike Kemp to brainstorm ideas on how to do this.

After some initial surveying to see the interest level, the group went ahead as planned and had the camp at the end of the summer at the Moylan IcePlex. They were expecting to have maybe 20 or 30 kids show up. Instead, 78 came, which was a huge encouragement and led them to have the same camp for two years after that. Surprisingly, though, attendance began to dwindle.

Fast forward to 2009, when FCA's Rick Randazzo contacted Scholz to see about the possibility of teaming up in Omaha. As the National Director of the newly formed FCA Hockey, Randazzo was in the midst of his first summer of FCA Hockey Camps, and he wanted an up-close look at one of the best-run camps in the country.

After having 36 kids come to the camp in 2008, with FCA on board, the attendance jumped back up to 65 this year. NHL players Dan Ellis (Nashville Predators), Jeff Hoggan (Phoenix Coyotes) and Jed Ortmeyer (San Jose Sharks) were there to give their testimonies.

"That was significant," Scholz said. "The kids definitely pay attention, and the players talked about how their spiritual journey is part of how they play and their success in hockey. It was very impacting to have them."

FCA handled the majority of the on-ice portions of the camp, Randazzo said, focusing on individual skills such as skating, shooting and passing. A former college hockey player and coach himself, Randazzo spearheaded the effort to instruct basic hockey techniques to the kids, who ranged in age from 4 to 17 and included both boys and girls.

Scholz's group helped handle the spiritual activities, which included guest speakers and chapel services with praise and worship music.

On-ice activities largely focused on skills like 
skating, shooting and passing.

"It really encompassed everything," Randazzo said. "We shared testimonies, we had a nutritionist come to advise the kids on what to eat and what exercises to do. It was a complete camp. The comments from the parents were all positive."

A few parents contacted Scholz a few days after the camp was over, and they all had similar stories. Their kids had come home with huge smiles and couldn't stop talking about what they'd learned at the camp.

"We heard that several times," Scholz said. "Probably even more interesting were people that really weren't even there for our camp, just people who were at the rink for a hockey tryout or figure skating, and they would come up to us and say, 'This is a phenomenal event you guys are having. I'm so impressed.'

"(FCA) was a great help. It was a huge success. We'd do it again in a minute."

The partnership forged between FCA and Scholz's original group is one that both parties hope will continue in the future. And it has Randazzo excited about what's ahead for FCA Hockey.

"We have so much momentum," he said. "That was the best-run camp I've ever been associated with. They did a fantastic job setting it up, and we learned many things that we'll use at our other camps and clinics."

Click here to follow FCA on Twitter!

Photos courtesy of Rick Randazzo, Ross Scholz.

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