By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
The University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team took a break from preseason skating in a move to build morale and relationships amongst players.
The Wolverines ventured to Iron Mountain, Mich. in mid-August for a weekend at Camp Corwood. According to freshman forward Tyler Dalton, the team participated in camping, kayaking and community service opportunities.
With only half its 2014-2015 roster returning, team building activities were a forefront of the trip.
“You got to learn a lot about everybody, and not just the guys in your recruiting class, but I got to learn a lot about the upperclassmen, a lot about our captains,” Dalton said. “Those guys really opened up to us, and it was easier to start gelling once you heard stories about people’s past and the hard times they’ve been through, or some of the things that have helped them to get this point. We’re all playing such high level hockey.”
Head coach Chris Haltinner spoke highly of the trip and the opportunity to step away from the ice.
“There’s stuff that happens on those weekends where someone falls into the water or someone does this or that,” Haltinner said. “We had a canoe race where the first canoe team, they flipped and sunk their canoe. Those are things that lighten the mood right before practice, before we get practice.”
UM-Dearborn didn’t participate in a team building trip last year. It opened practice and went straight to the season opener.
The Camp Corwood trip allowed players to bond and build chemistry before the season begins.
“This gave us time to practice, get to know each other, and then go play,” Haltinner said. “Now everyone knows who everyone is; they know little quirks about them… It just helps with that process. Now if you go to talk to people, you were shy, but now you aren’t shy.”
So far, the differences of participating in team building activities such as the camping trip have shown.
“I think one of the things we got out of the team building experience was that once something goes bad, we can’t just deflate,” Dalton said. “(The camp workers) really kind of hammered into us that once we start failing in those team bonding exercises, if there isn’t two guys in there to pick up a guy who made a mistake or a guy who messed up the game or whatever, then it’s just going to keep snowballing.
“I think from what I heard last year, guys started getting hurt, then it was like … the air fell out and nobody was really motivated anymore. And you can tell that guys this year are already there to stick up for each other and support one another.”