The Penguins' Sidney Crosby answers questions at his hockey camp Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at Cole Harbour Place in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.(AP)
COLE HARBOUR, Nova Scotia — When Sid was still a kid, stepping onto the ice over the summer months was just as much about making memories as it was about working on skills.
Now all grown up, the 28-year-old Penguins captain takes pride in helping create similar special moments for the youngsters geared up this week at the Sidney Crosby Hockey School, which started Monday and runs through Friday at his hometown arena.
“I have great memories of going to hockey camp,” Crosby said Wednesday afternoon at Cole Harbour Place, where the two-time Stanley Cup champion grew up learning and loving the game.
“Regardless of whether they go on to play in the NHL or even continue to play hockey next year, it's a great opportunity for kids to come out and meet other kids,” he said. “(The kids learn) a little bit about the game and all the things that are great about it.”
But believe it or not, camp Crosby isn't just about hockey.
“A big part of the camp is just being active. We play all kinds of sports,” Crosby said of his hockey school, which is in its second year and features on-ice development, dry-land training and guest presentations.
“The feel is just to be active and try to have a great week, have as much fun as we can,” he said.
The Sidney Crosby Hockey School experience seems to be living up to expectations for the Scarcella family of Ann Arbor, Mich.
“We love hockey in our family,” said mother Kristin Scarcella, sporting a well-worn Penguins hoodie while watching from the stands. “They're having so much fun.”
The Scarcella kids just started playing hockey two seasons ago. 12-year-old goalie Julia and 10-year-old forward Joey played while their dad and Kristin's fellow cheerleader, Sergio, looked on.
“It's been fun!” Joey said after getting off the ice, adding Crosby liked his signature yellow stick tape and showed him how to skate faster.
While Joey and his fellow young players are pumped to skate alongside the guy he called “the best player in the world,” Crosby in turn feeds off the energy of the kids he works with.
“You can feel it out there and see how excited the kids are,” Crosby said, adding it's cool to see children from across Canada, the United States and Europe come together in Cole Harbour. “Going to camps myself, I can remember having that experience (making friends from around the world).”
Kristin Scarcella agreed that learning life skills such as teamwork is the reason she and Sergio signed their children up for hockey.
“You don't go through life by yourself,” she said. “As excited as they are to be on the ice with all these really great teachers and with Sid, I think they're just as excited to be around all these kids that love hockey like they do.”
The Scarcellas and fellow Crosby campers get a special treat this year. The Stanley Cup returns to Cole Harbour this Saturday for community celebrations, including a parade through town and a question-and-answer session at the arena.