Athletes take action in Okotoks camp

Faith: Christian organization holds hockey school in Alberta for first time

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 12:28 pm

Former Okotoks Oiler defenceman Quinn Sproule gives instruction to some young players on how to check at the Athletes in Action hockey camp at the Murray Arena earlier this month.
Former Okotoks Oiler defenceman Quinn Sproule gives instruction to some young players on how to check at the Athletes in Action hockey camp at the Murray Arena earlier this month.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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Okotoks was selected to host the first hockey camp in Alberta for an organization which stresses a holistic approach to developing the player – ensuring growth mentally, physically and spiritually.

Athletes in Action, an organization which promotes Christianity through sport and has been in Canada since 1967, held its first hockey camp in Alberta Aug. 8-11 at the Murray Arena in Okotoks.

“Okotoks was an ideal location,” said Athletes in Action Hockey chaplain Jack Knight. “It has the close proximity to Calgary, High River, Black Diamond and the recreation centre is a perfect site. It has everything you need.” Knight is familiar with the Okotoks area and its hockey scene. He is regular at the Okotoks Junior A Oilers games, sitting in the Oilers’ offensive end, where he had the opportunity to watch his son Corbin Knight rack up a lot of points for the green and black. He is also the spiritual advisor for the Oilers, the High River Junior B Flyers and also has worked with the Calgary Flames and Stampeders.

Don’t think he is sitting at the Centennial Arena praying for an Oiler goal. He knows God has bigger things on the go.

“God is a fan, he doesn’t decide who wins,” Knight said with a chuckle. “That (winning) is determined by the athletes, performance, preparation and hard-work.”

The Athletes in Action camp provided the youths top-of-the-line instruction from former Oilers head coach Dan MacDonald, defenceman Quinn Sproule, Corbin Knight and others.

More than 110 hockey players participated in the four-day camp. The camps ranged from Atom players to NCAA and Junior A level players.

The emphasis was on hockey, with an approximate 20-minute session on Christianity every day.

Knight stressed Athletes in Action was upfront about the hockey camp being Christian-faith based. The camp was open to all denominations. Knight said there were parents who were initially apprehensive about having their children attend a faith-based camp, however, he later received feedback from the same parents saying how much they enjoyed the positive atmosphere of the camp.

If anyone has any notions Christian players cannot get in the mix in physical sports such as hockey or football, think again.

Knight said former NHL tough guy Stu Grimson is a devout Christian. He said Grimson, who is now a lawyer, stressed maintaining the integrity of the game before dropping the gloves.

Former Oiler Corbin Knight, who now plays for the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux and is property of the Florida Panthers, said his faith has never been an issue on the ice or in the locker room.

“I’m still very competitive – I want to win,” Corbin said, adding he has learned to ignore the off-coloured comments that can occur in the dressing room.

Jack Knight laughed when asked how, for example, members from the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders can gather after a physical game and join hands at midfield for prayer.

“Some things are bigger than the game,” he explained.

For more information about Athletes in Action in Alberta go to www.athletesinaction.com/hockey


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