Monday night, Mark Thompson laced up his skates to play goal for men’s ice hockey assistant coach Bruce Wolanin ’91. Thompson spent the next 75 minutes making kick saves and glove saves, but not in preparation for another run at the ECAC title.
In the morning, Thompson, along with the other 25 skaters in Wolanin’s Bulldog Hockey Adult Seminar, returned to his day job as the owner of a refuse company in Westport.
Wolanin runs the clinic in the fall and spring each year, bringing in undergraduates, graduate students and area residents with Yale for eight one-hour-and-15-minute sessions of instruction for a $300 fee. The clinic gives players of varying skill levels the opportunity to get instruction from top Division I coaches and players.
“I worked quite a few camps that weren’t well run and I thought I could do a better job,” said Wolanin, who earned four varsity letters in his collegiate career and played professionally in the ECHL. “Ideally, you come away with someone who had a fun time and also learned.”
Not only do players get instruction from Wolanin, but Yale head coach Tim Taylor, defenseman Joe Callahan ’05 and goalie Peter Dobrowski ’04 provide instruction as well.
“They come, have a good time and get better at hockey,” Callahan said.
Although some participants are not exactly rookies anymore, with 26 skaters ranging in age from 21-56, everyone brings a fun and competitive energy to drills and scrimmages.
The clinic attracts people from all kinds of hockey backgrounds, even some University of Connecticut hockey fans.
“I’ll come out anytime I can get ice,” Nick Cullman ’04 said. “I played in high school every year. Once I got [to Yale] I just play[ed] IMs.”
For other hockey players from outside of Yale, the clinic provides an opportunity to continue to learn about the game that they have played, in some cases, for most of their lives.
“It’s a good tuneup for my rec[recreational league],” said Thompson, who lives in Milford. “[I get] a lot of instruction [here], a lot of what I’m doing wrong gets corrected.”
For youth hockey coaches enrolled in the seminar, the clinic is a resource for coaching younger students of the game.
“A lot of these people are youth hockey coaches and fans of Yale hockey so it [is] kind of a nice way to give back to the community,” Wolanin said.
During Yale’s hockey season, Ingalls Rink attracts lots of fans from outside of Yale, more than most Eli athletics. The clinic bridges the gap between the University and the New Haven community.
“All the guys come out to our games,” said Callahan, who has worked at the clinic since the spring of his freshman year. “It’s fun for us to meet a lot of people that are at our games.”
Aside from the on-ice instruction, the seminar provides a web site, bulldoghockey.com, that includes reviews of practice drills, nutritional information and complimentary testimony to the success of the clinic.
Wolanin also videotapes a practice session so that participants can learn from watching themselves.
Tomorrow night, this fall’s rendition of the seminar will come to a close, but Wolanin expects to see many of the same faces in the spring.
“Typically, my return rate is 70 percent,” he said.
Until then, participants will have to get their hockey fix from recreational leagues, intramurals or coaching, but, when spring rolls around, many of them will be back at the Whale for another two weeks of instruction.