Mother Nature has played a big role in the earliest start in team history for the Missouri Mavericks Hockey Skills Development Camps.

Mother Nature has played a big role in the earliest start in team history for the Missouri Mavericks Hockey Skills Development Camps.

“At this time last year,” camp director Simon Watson said, “the kids were still in school because of all the snow days. We’ve never been able to start the first week in June because of the bad winter weather. Now, we’re excited about the early start.”

The Mavericks will have three camps – June 4-8, July 16-20 and Aug. 6-10 – and are expecting between 50 and 110 kids in each camp.

“The way hockey has grown and developed in this area is nothing short of amazing,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “This is a great camp for kids of all ages, and it completes the healing process for us as we can focus on the kids and forget about that Game 7 loss.”

The Mavericks came within a win of advancing to the Ray Miron Championship Series in just their third year in the Central Hockey League. Fort Wayne topped the Mavericks in the final game of a seven-game series to end the most successful season in team history.

Now, the Mavericks are anticipating the most exciting summer camp series to date.

“When we started three years ago,” Hillman said, “we had one camp. We have about 30 to 35 kids signed up for next week’s camp, and we can handle a lot more than that.

Watson, who is the director of the Jr. Mavericks Youth Hockey, nodded in agreement.

“We had maybe 60 or 70 kids the first year of the Jr. Mavs,” Watson said, “and now we’re close to 300. We never expected youth hockey to take off like it has and we’re proud to be a small part of all the growth.”

As Watson and Hillman talked about next week’s camp, Watson’s phone buzzed.
“Good karma,” he said, grinning. “We just got another sign-up.”

Although the time schedule is subject to change, depending on the number of campers, next week’s camp is expected to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with scrimmages and off-ice activities planned for Friday.

From 5-6 p.m., Sunday campers can register for the camp and receive their jersey at the Community Ice in the Independence Events Center.

The cost of one camp is $300. Two camps cost $565 and three camps cost $815. Campers can receive a box lunch for an additional $7 per day. The camp will provide free pizza on Friday.

“When we moved here (my son) Gunhar was the only kid who could skate in the youngest part of our camps,” Hillman said. “Now, he was 3 at the time. He’s now 6 and he’s out there skating with 35 to 40 kids who are all his age. They’re buzzing around on the ice like little bees. And it’s so exciting to see the kids that age playing the sport Simon and I played from that age.”

Goaltender B.J. O’Brien and other Mavericks players will work the camp, along with Watson and Hillman.

“We never dreamed that we would go from one camp to three, and from 60 some kids to nearly 300,” Hillman said. “This isn’t day care. We’re really going to teach the kids, who will range from 5 or 6 to high school age.

“And for the first time, we’re going to provide video analysis of their game. It’s much like a video analysis of a golf swing or swinging a baseball bat. That way, the camper and their parents can see how much the youngster has developed over the course of the camp.”

For more information, call 816-252-7825 or email to swatson@missourimavericks.com.