Stephen shrugged, told us to ignore him and began our briefing.
“Alright, two things need to happen today and we need to make it work.” He said assertively. “The camp has to go on as planned. Christian, can we make it work with myself, you and Mark?”
“No pylons to help?” Christian replied
“Nope, no pylons. I have other plans for them.”
“I don’t see why not, we may have to skate a bit more or we can get some of the older campers to help us out. This is the elite group after all.”
“Perfect, grab Mark and head out. You four come with me “Stephen’s eyes locked ours and motioned for us to follow.
“Grab the cameras, iPads and everything else you think you’re going to need and head to the second ice surface” He said commandingly.
We all clamoured over to the second ice surface; arms full of unopened iPad boxes, cameras, video recorders, tripods, stands as well as all of our hockey gear.
“Listen here gents, this is your project for the day, make it work.”
Stephen rarely asked us to do anything so when he spoke we listened. He was fair and honest but expected perfection and also happened to control whether or not we worked for the company so you can imagine we were all listening intently.
“Just make it work, I’ll be back later today.”
With that, he left.
Now it was time for the pylons to get to work. Fortunately we had been working together for the better part of three summers. We were a team, we knew each others strengths and weaknesses. We were nervous but we knew if we collaborated together and got this program off the ground we were set and could continue working our dream summer jobs for the foreseeable future.
We all kind of blankly traded glances: look at your buddy, look at the gear, look at your buddy, shrug, repeat.
We needed a plan, we needed a goal.
“Alrighty, we’ve all seen NHLers use this stuff on TV. What’s one of the things they’re always working on? Shooting. So, let’s set this up so that we can monitor our campers shots”
We weren’t sure which direction we were headed but this was our project and we were hell-bent on getting it done properly.
* * * * *
Pylon #1 was Jack: technologically savvy, fast learner with a love for Apple products. He was tasked with unboxing the iPads and ensuring all programs were up and running.
Off he went.
Pylon #2 was Cole: He was a touring musician and sound guy at our local all ages music venue. We figured that hey, maybe cameras could be similar to setting up sound equipment. We honestly had no clue but we sent him off to sort the cameras and hoped for the best.
Off he went.
Pylon #3 was Bruce: He was the youngest and (although to this day I hate to admit it) the best hockey player out of the bunch. He was our guinea pig. He was tasked to get all the necessary hockey equipment
Off he went.
Pylon #4 was me: I was the oldest pylon and actually had experience with this type of set up before. I tasked myself with finding a proper shooting location and a struggling camper who could benefit from this type of lesson.
Off I went.
Bruce finished finding all of the equipment quickly and decided to give Cole a hand with the videos and after finding the proper shooting location I went ahead and helped Jack finishing setting up the software.
It took us nearly three hours of collaborative trial and error but fortunately our persistence paid off and just before lunch we finished setting up three of analysis stations.
* * * * *
We spent the better part of the afternoon filming campers taking a variety of shots. Each camper was given an iPad with his or her individual videos loaded into a video-editing program. They were able to work one-on-one with a coach to pinpoint an area of improvement. Some students didn’t skate through the puck, which meant they weren’t able to generate enough power on their shot. Others noticed their blades hit the ice far too late which slowed their release speed. A few campers noticed their follow-throughs were far too high which resulted in their shots constantly going over the net.
We were able to take different videos of the same movements over the course of a week. Each time a camper, either with a peer, a coach or by himself or herself, was able to take the video, break down the footage and try to improve a specific skill. The campers loved it. They had a visual representation of their progress and were able to self-assess and adjust their techniques for more meaningful learning experiences.