Nantucket Ice Introduces First Ever Rink-Run Hockey Camp

David Creed •

The Nantucket Ice Rink’s expanded offerings to island hockey players through camps and various other programs has been well documented both this year and last, but last week the rink completed what may be their most significant accomplishment yet: the unveiling of their first ever rink-run hockey camp.

Led by the rink’s program & hockey director Will Datilio, Nantucket Ice offered an all-day hockey camp Monday through Friday last week from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. offering not just on-ice hockey and skating instruction but also nutrition education, sports psychology, Yoga, and off-ice dryland training.

“We have a lot of great hockey camps that we offer throughout the summer and so if you're just doing a hockey camp for the skating thing, you're going to get great coaching. But there's so much more to becoming a hockey player,” Datilio, who is also the Director of Nantucket Youth Hockey, said. “There’s so much more to becoming a well-rounded hockey player. Our goal is to not just teach them hockey skills but teach them how to stretch and prepare for a game, how to eat, how to recover and take care of your body. How to think and then how to apply what you are learning outside of the game into the game itself. We want to give them the toolkit to succeed.”

Nantucket Ice Rink Hockey Camp
Photo courtesy of Will Datilio

The camp consisted of about 45 kids, made up of about 90 percent local, year-round hockey player. There were two groups. Group one was ages 7-11 while group two was ages 12-18, but the oldest player was 14 years old. Datilio said next year they are hoping to make it 100 percent locals.

Datilio recruited some experienced hockey and skating names to help the camp run.

Jamie Armstrong, who will be playing for Boston College’s Div. 1 team next year as well as former Boston University hockey player Patrick Harper assisted Brian Fontas – the longtime Acton-Boxborough varsity girls hockey coach (25 years) who also runs his own hockey academy – as he ran the on-ice hockey instruction at one end of the ice.

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Brian Fontas led the hockey instruction throughout the course of the week.
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On the other end of the ice kids got skating instruction from Jess Dupuis, who is a professional figure skater currently serving as the skating coach for Boston University’s men’s hockey team. She skated Disney on Ice for a decade. She also does freelance instruction with professional skaters/hockey players across the world.

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Jess Dupois was at one end of the ice working with campers on their skating.
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There was also a special appearance from Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, who spoke to the kids about what it takes to play hockey at the highest level and to gradually develop as a hockey player.

Jack Billings, who led the Nantucket boys hockey team to their first ever state semifinal appearance as their lone captain, also assisted with on-ice hockey instruction alongside senior goalie Griffin Starr, who will be the Whaler’s captain this winter as well as senior center Ryan Davis, the team’s leading scorer last year who will be an alternate captain this winter.

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Jack Billings (left) and Ryan Davis (right)
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Griffin Starr

“The kids seem to have really enjoyed it which is awesome,” Datilio said. “I think the island and hockey community needed a camp like this. I had a parent the other day call me to say this is the best camp they’ve been to on Nantucket period. That meant a lot.”

Datilio, who graduated from Plymouth State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Psychology, ran the sport’s psychology lessons while island Yoga instructor Chip Davis ran the yoga sessions.

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Will Datilio during one of his sports psychology lessons.
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Chip Davis conducting a yoga session with one of the camp groups.

Datilio said the rink hopes to offer this camp for two weeks next summer. Below are more photos from throughout the week.

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