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Developing skating skills in French
Since 2016, Alex Tétrault and his father Gérald have been helping young skaters aged 6 to 14 to develop their hockey and ringette skills on synthetic ice in St. Malo, in French. Proud Francophones, the father and son team are hockey enthusiasts and long-time players, which is why they decided to start up this hockey and ringette camp in French.
Alex Tétrault explains: “We really wanted to be able to offer something in French for practising hockey and ringette. You’re pretty much obliged to do these sports in English, given that most of the players speak that language. For instance, when I wanted to start playing hockey, I had to learn all the technical hockey lingo in English.”
The camp will run from August 12-15, 2019 in the St. Malo arena, with room for up to 15 participants. “In the mornings, we’ll work on the technical training on synthetic ice, and a variety of activities will be organized in the St. Malo community in the afternoons.”
The training focuses on honing participants’ personal skills, which means that a range of levels, and even different sports, can work out together with no problem.
“The camp focuses on personal training rather than team playing. The goal is for everyone to improve their own skill level. That’s why we can have hockey and ringette players on the ice at the same time.”
The camp program includes developing skating, passing, shooting and puck and ring handling skills. “The synthetic ice is less slippery than traditional ice, which is good for practising purposes. It’s great for working on basic technique and developing young skaters’ skills.”
Offering the camp in French is also an opportunity for the Tétraults to promote the language. “We want to create a positive relationship between the youth and French. Most of them only speak French at school and live the rest of their life in English. We want to stimulate their interest in French and show them that they can practise their sport in that language.”
However, the senior and junior Tétraults agree that the camp would not be possible without support, especially from CDEM. “CDEM is really helping us promote our camp. They’ve given us communications and marketing support as well as contacts so that we can get the word out about our French camp.”
In addition to the summer camp, Gérald Tétrault draws on his background as a semi-professional player and trainer to run his own hockey school in St. Malo: GT Performance Hockey, which trains young players year-round. He and son Alex own the school.
Gérald Tétrault points out that St. Malo has a solid hockey tradition, with homegrown players such as Travis Hamonic, who now plays in the NHL with the Calgary Flames.