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How Whatcom Sports & Recreation are growing the game of hockey

Seasonal hockey camps allow all ages and skill levels to play hockey and learn the game

Caleb Posey and his men's hockey team posing for a picture after winning the Brew Cup championship at the Whatcom Sports & Recreation facility in Bellingham, Wash., on Dec. 31, 2023. Laying on the ice and holding the championship banner, Posey and his team celebrate the big tournament win. // Photo courtesy of Caleb Posey
Looking to play or get into hockey? Whatcom Sports & Recreation offers seasonal camps to all ages and skill levels looking to get in on the action. 

One-day camps range from $25 to $35, and the seasonal camps are about $250.

Erick Ruud, the assistant executive director of Whatcom Sports & Recreation, has only been working there for a month but said he has been on a mission to grow the sport in Whatcom County. 

“My main goal is to get people into hockey,” Ruud said. “Whether they have never had experience or have some, I want to get as many people as possible out here to learn and enjoy the game.”

Hockey can be expensive. The gear alone can cost thousands from stores or buying online, but there are options for those who want to spend less on gear.

“At our facility, we have gear that has been donated and our members can rent all the gear they need to play for only $50 for the whole season,” Ruud said. 

Caleb Posey has been a member at the recreation center, playing in the beer league and camps, for the past year and a half. He got into the sport because he started taking his son to the rec center to play hockey.

“Getting into hockey was hard to learn for a 32-year-old man, but from once I first started to now, it has been so much different,” Posey said. “Going to these camps and them taking the time to teach has been so helpful.”

Now, Posey takes part in the Beer League, which got its name from players chugging beers before and after the game. The men’s league is offered by  Sports & Recreation and allows adults to take part in games and tournaments at the facility in Bellingham.

Whatcom Sports also has a local junior team, comprised of 16- to 20-year-olds playing hockey at a high level.It costs $10 a ticket to watch the junior team play.

“I am looking to add a discount for Western students to come out and watch our junior-level team play,” Ruud said. “I don't care if I lose $3 or $4 a ticket. I want those students to come out to watch and fall in love with the game of hockey.”

Pat Flett is a former hockey player who learned to skate at the age of 2 and started playing at 4 years old. He went on to play in the Western Hockey League.

“Practicing and hockey camps were a big reason I got to the level that I did. It is more of a lifestyle than a sport if you want to play at that high of a level,” Flett said. “Keep it fun and keep showing up to camps to grow your game.”

Anyone is welcome to try out seasonal camps that are offered in the winter and spring. The winter camps last 6 months while the spring camps last only 2 to 3 months.

Anyone looking to join or partake in hockey camps or games can visit Whatcom Sports & Recreation for more information.

Cameron Gruen

Cameron Gruen (he/him) is a city life reporter for The Front. He is a senior majoring in Public Relations, so his work often reflects his interest in sports or community activities. Outside of the newsroom, you can find him watching sports, playing video games, hanging out with friends or family, and snowboarding. You can reach him at

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