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It’s never too late to take up hockey - hockey for all centre | hockey for all centre
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It’s never too late to take up hockey

Jets Hockey Development Adult Skill Development programs give players of all ages and skill levels the chance to learn the game

You won’t find anyone on the Jets Hockey Development (JHD) team subscribing to the saying that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick. Particularly not at their Adult Skill Development program. The program is proof that it’s never too late to learn something new.

“At one session, I asked who had been playing since they were 5 years old, and nobody raised their hand. I asked who started when they were between 10 and 20 years old, and nobody raised their hand,” said JHD Head Instructor Devin Himpe. “Everybody in the group started at 30 or later.”

One player for whom that’s the case is Weichi Truong.

“A lot of my friends and their kids nowadays are into hockey and it’s a world I know very little about – I follow the Winnipeg Jets but what I see on TV is the extent of my knowledge of hockey,” said Truong.

And though Truong is a father of two in his early 40s, that hasn’t stopped him from trying to improve his hockey skills, which he’s doing through JHD’s Adult Skill Development program at hockey for all centre.

“I’ve got a 3 and 6-year-old, and I wanted to know more about hockey in case they were interested in picking up the sport,” Truong stated. “I figured I might as well have some fun while I’m at it and try to learn a new sport.”

Though the Adult Skill Development program is different for JHD coaches in that they aren’t training with young athletes working towards making their AAA team or playing at the junior or pro levels, their focus as coaches remains the same – individual skill development.

What might be different from the youth programs they run is the motivation behind participation.

“For a lot of our participants, it’s about getting some exercise, having fun, spending time with friends, and working on their game,” noted Brett Wur, another JHD Head Instructor, on the sessions that run in the morning prior to work hours and later in the evening to accommodate life schedules for participants.

Already in his first few sessions, Truong found himself soaking in more information than he knew he would need.

“I thought all I needed to learn was how to make a saucer pass and two-foot stop on a dime,” Truong commented. “I’ve quickly learned there’s much more I need to learn like skating efficiently, stickhandling, and using my edges to protect the puck.”

Though Truong had a few apprehensions about participating as a newcomer to the sport, those were quickly put to rest at the first session. The coaches and participants were all very encouraging and supportive to everyone, which is an atmosphere they work hard to create.

“These sessions are a safe place,” said Himpe, noting he’s coached adults from age 20 to 70 in these programs. “This isn’t a place where you’re going to come in and criticize someone for not making a pass, because they may have just figured out how to skate. You see players helping each other get better too.”

One instance of that camaraderie came at one of the adult games JHD hosts at Canada Life Centre for participants of the Adult Skills program – a regular highlight for coaches and players alike as they skate at the home of the Winnipeg Jets.

“We had a couple that just started skating and they were worried about being the weakest players and that people would be flying around them,” said Wur. “That wasn’t the case at all. They got pucks passed to them and were involved. You could see how many smiles there were at that game.”

That kind of environment makes Adult Skill Development sessions a place where many players want to keep coming back to continue getting better.

“There really is a team atmosphere,” added Himpe. “For some players, maybe they’re getting a chance to be a part of something they didn’t think they could be.”

It’s an environment that keeps Truong coming back, and the more he comes back and works on his game, the greater appreciation he gains for the Jets players he watches regularly.

“In various drills, I’ve struggled with taming a bouncing puck, trying to receive a pass that was slightly behind me, or stickhandling while moving my feet with somebody on my hip. The pros do this on the regular with what looks like very little effort.”

Though it might take some effort, Himpe, Wur and the other JHD coaches are confident that players like Truong can achieve those skills they’re working on too – and that will only keep fuelling their fire to get better.

“It’s just like a little kid realizing they raised the puck for the first time, or trying something on their backhand. I’ve had a couple of those moments with the adults too, and they get that same sense of joy. Once they get that feeling, then they get hooked and want to keep coming back,” said Himpe.

Get hooked on improving your game with Jets Hockey Development’s Adult Skill Development program. Sign up today at hockeyforallcentre.com/JetsHockeyDevelopment.