“The visit included an up-close-and-personal experience watching the Chicago Blackhawks practice,” says Dave Benner, an instructor of gerontology.
“We got to stand next to the glass and were able to get plenty of pictures of Blackhawk stars only inches away. Several students were able to catch hockey pucks that flew over the glass,” Benner adds. “We watched different drills, heard coaching techniques and got a unique perspective on how they structure practice.”
After a lunch provided by the hockey team, during which the NIU students continued watching practice through an observation wall, the Huskies were allowed on the rink themselves for a free skate.
“Some of the students were excellent skaters and others were very much beginners. We even got to learn and play a new game called broom ball. Everyone had a blast,” Benner says. “Then, as we were getting off the ice, the San Jose Sharks started their ice time on the other rink next to ours. We were able to watch a couple minutes of their practice as well.”
During the afternoon, the students enjoyed a presentation from Paul Goodman, head strength and conditioning coach for the Blackhawks.
Goodman spoke about measuring stress levels in the athletes, nutrition, programming, injury prevention, exercise techniques and more. He also led a tour the exercise room.
“His presentation highlighted how he does programming for the day, week and month for the Blackhawks,” Benner says. “His presentation lasted over two hours, and he talked about so many interesting topics related to his philosophy. It was truly an eye-opening experience.”
Benner believes that the trip was an aspirational journey for the students.
“It was designed to give all involved a unique perspective into the life of a head strength and conditioning coach for a professional organization, and was meant to be a great learning experience,” he says. “Hopefully, this will inspire all to shoot for the stars for their future careers.”