During his NHL career, Troy Bodie wanted a way to give back to hockey and prepare future stars for the sport. After his pro days finished, he was able to fulfill that need to give back by teaming up with the Beebe Hockey Camp.

Bodie, who hails from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, played his junior hockey for the Kelowna Rockets along with former Predators captain Shea Weber. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2003 and went on to play for the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs, along with other stints in the American Hockey League.

Following the 2014-15 season, Bodie retired from hockey and took on a position as a pro scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs based out of Southern California. This gave him the opportunity to join up with Brett Beebe and the Beebe Hockey Camp, which is coming to Ford Ice Center July 25-29. Beebe, who played at Western Michigan University and in ECHL, began the Beebe Hockey Camp three years ago, something that Bodie wanted to be a part of from the start.

“I was always interested in doing it when Brett started camp about three years ago,” said Bodie. “I was playing at the time, so obviously I couldn’t join because I was focused on hockey. Once I retired, I was looking for something else to do. I always thought of running kids camps and sharing the knowledge I got from the game. It’s my way of giving back to the game and teaching young kids not only how to play the game and do it properly, but pass on how to be a good person and get to the next level beyond your skill.”

What makes the Beebe Hockey Camp so special is that youth hockey players get instruction and coaching from current and former NHL players who took different routes to become a pro. With their different backgrounds, Beebe and Bodie are able to mentor players not only with on-ice performance but also discuss what it takes to make it to the next level.

“One thing that is really unique about us is that there are two head coaches,” said Bodie. “There is myself and Brett. Brett came from Southern California, which wasn’t the biggest hockey market outside of the Kings. He was a skilled player who came up the ranks, went through junior hockey in the U.S. and went to college at Western Michigan University. He went that route, played a few years of pro and retired. I was completely different. I was a little less skill and more grind game. I grew up in Canada where it was hockey or bust. I went through the junior ranks in Canada and straight to pro. Played 10 years of pro and 150 games in the NHL. I think we have all of the areas covered in terms of what these kids would want and need in order to get to where they want to grow.”

The Beebe Hockey Camp began in having camps in Los Angeles and Alabama, two areas that have been known as “non-traditional” hockey regions. There has been a tremendous turnout in these locations and it’s showing how hockey continues to grow throughout areas that aren’t always at the forefront of talks when it comes to producing hockey talent.

“It means a lot because I grew up in a very small town where there weren’t hockey camps in town,” said Bodie. “I’d always have to go somewhere else for a hockey camp or drive to Winnipeg an hour away. Our biggest turnout is in Alabama where you think it’s the furthest thing from hockey. These kids show up and love every minute of it. It just means a lot to me and Brett to pass along our knowledge to outstretched areas of the country that don’t get traditional hockey training.”

With its success, the hockey camp continued to grow and now includes Park City, Utah, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Waterloo, Iowa and of course, Nashville, Tennessee.

“This is my first year doing and it’s the first year we’ve really branched out past Los Angeles and Alabama,” said Bodie. “We were just in Park City, Utah and we had a bunch of kids there. The girls were very talented and showed a lot of prospect in taking their craft to the next level. That’s something, not working with girls much in the past and seeing their development and how well they’re represented in the game now, that’s really inspiring and it was great to be a part of it.”

Part of what is helping talent to continue be on the rise in the United States is the hard work of USA Hockey. A record-number 12 Americans were selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. First-overall pick Auston Matthews was only the seventh American to ever be selected first overall. In total, 55 Americans were selected in this year’s draft. For the camp in Nashville, current NHLer Beau Bennett will be attending the camp as a coach. Bennett, who’s currently the highest-drafted Californian born NHL player to this point in league history, most recently won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was acquired by the New Jersey Devils on June 25 during the draft.

“USA hockey has done such a great job,” said Bodie. “I grew up in Canada and am still Canada all the way, but USA hockey has done such a great job at building the sport. You could see it in this year’s draft. The Toronto Maple Leafs took a bunch of American kids. It’s a testament to how well they’re developing and what they’re doing for the sport. It’s growing drastically.”

Hockey talent in Tennessee continues to be on the rise as well with more Tennessee hockey players going on to play college hockey or in the USHL. As the talent level rises, it’s important to make sure players do not burn out on the sport, something that has been seen in Canada recently. Making the sport fun is an important factor in keeping children interested in the game. This is something that the Beebe Hockey Camp focuses on in their sessions.

“I believe our camp brings tremendous value in all sense of the word,” said Bodie. “We have very good coaching and skill development. It’s been proven over the years with the kids at our camps. The biggest thing I find in sports, and I found in hockey, is that the game has to be fun. It isn’t a drill sergeant-type camp. We teach the kids the fundamentals and truly believe they come out of the camp better than when they came in. At the same time, we put a fun spin on it. These kids come out every day with a smile on their face and love the game more and more each time. As much as it’s skill development and hockey, it’s fun as well. The kids are going to be tired at the end of the day, but they’ll have a big smile on their face.”

The Beebe Hockey Camp visits Ford Ice Center from July 25-29. Sessions go from 8:00am – 2:00pm. The cost for skaters is $400 and it’s $300 for goalies. Each daily session includes on and off ice activities, along with classroom time. For more information, click here.

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