Clippers add to coaching staff

Nanaimo Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp, middle, announces the junior A hockey team
Nanaimo Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp, middle, announces the junior A hockey team's new strength and conditioning coach, Clayton Smith, left, and assistant coach Blake Clement.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The Nanaimo Clippers are going to have a bunch of energetic players skating into training camp next week, and the team has added new energy behind the bench, too.

The city’s junior hockey club announced Blake Clement as the new assistant coach and Clayton Smith as the new strength and conditioning coach.

Clement played junior A in Grande Prairie under head coach Mike Vandekamp, who is now coach and general manager of the Clippers.

“We agreed on a lot of things, so I think that transition’s going to be really easy in that way, because we see the game in the same way,” Clement said.

The new assistant doesn’t have coaching experience, but Vandekamp said the junior A level is about building experience.

“He’s a real passionate, hard-working young man and I think that example he’s going to set for our players will be fantastic,” the head coach said.

Clement said coaching will probably be more stressful than playing.

"You can't go on the ice and do anything about it and I'm sure sometimes I'm going to want to jump over the bench and get on the ice," he said. "It'll be weird at first, but I'm sure it will be fine. I have the passion. I care about the game and love the game so it'll be a pretty easy transition."

Smith operates Prime Sport Performance and Kinesiology and is a former Clippers defenceman.

“It’s nice to be back, and that was one thing that really drove me to help out with the Clippers organization, is to give back to a program that’s given me so much,” Smith said.

Vandekamp said Smith's business has gained a positive reputation in the area.

"For him to come into our program and work regularly with our players is going to be a huge advantage for our team and our players are going to be in top condition, we know that, and that's really important to us."

ICE CHIPS … The Clippers begin training camp with off-ice fitness testing Monday (Sept. 1) and start skating the next day at Frank Crane Arena … For season ticket information, please click here.

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