It may not feel like hockey weather outside, but for approximately 60 youngsters at the mite and squirt levels from around the area, it was time to lace up the skates and hit the ice at the Roosevelt Ice Arena this week.
The Black Hills Hockey Academy is in its seventh year of helping grow the game in the region and camp director Riley Weselowski says the growth of the game around Rapid City has been nothing short of remarkable.
Weselowski, a longtime fixture in the Rapid City Rush's lineup, has been holding the camps in Rapid City and surrounding communities for seven years now and he says that the main goal every summer is pretty simple.
Weselowski said, "The main goal of my camp is that the kids at the end of the week love hockey more than they did at the start of the week. If they're not having fun it doesn't work. Hockey in Rapid City the last seven years I would say it is just growing at an accelerated pace.
"I think that the kids are starting younger, I think having the Rush for the kids to look up to and something to aspire to is absolutely huge, but where I'm really seeing that difference is with the kids who are starting when they're five years old, four years old, kind of like we did up in Canada, by the time they're 7 or 8 they've had some good instruction from some coaches that know what they're doing and by the time they're 8 or 9, you know they're pretty good players."
Weselowski will be heading to Pierre later this week for another camp to instruct pee-wee, bantam aged players in the Capitol City before returning to Rapid City later this month and then heading to Cheyenne, Wyoming from Aug. 19-23.
For more information or to sign up, go to bhhockeyacademy.com.