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Berkeley hockey player headed to Canadian camp

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Saturday August 11, 2001

A Berkeley hockey player has been selected as one of 10 kids across the country to receive scholarships to attend summer camps in Canada next week. 

Tom Sedaka, a goaltender for the Berkeley Bulldogs, was due to leave Saturday morning for Penticton, British Columbia for the Okanagan one-week goalie camp. 

Sedaka, 16, has played for the Bulldogs, based at Berkeley Iceland, since 1997. He is the only goaltender among the group selected by the National Hockey League’s Diversity Task Force for the camps, and is the only one attending Okanagan. Eight others are headed to Toronto for the Huron camp, while one is going to Mt. Vernon, N.Y., for the Turcotte camp. 

“It’s a very special opportunity for these kids,” said Melissa Fitzgerald, who runs the hockey program at Berkeley Iceland. “This is enormous, because it actually offers the kids a chance to get some really good training, and also to experience going to Canada and being in a boarding situation.” 

Sedaka will be training with some of the best goalies of his age in the country at Okanagan, which his coaches hope will make him a better player. 

“Tom needs training to go from current plateau to wherever he wants to get,” said Cyril Allen, one of the head coaches at Iceland. “Not having done it before, it will be a lot of hard work. But it’s a chance to see where he stands in the game.” 

The Diversity Task Force is charged with exposing hockey to kids who might not otherwise have a chance to experience the game. They run several programs for younger kids, but this is the first year they offered scholarships to high-school aged players. 

Fitzgerald was the one who nominated Sedaka for a scholarship, along with two other Bulldog players. She was pleasantly surprised when two of her players were chosen. William Clark of Alameda will train at the Huron camp. 

“The camp that Tom is going to is an outstanding goalie school. When I saw it on the list, I though it would be a great opportunity for us to have someone go to that particular camp,” she said. “We’re hoping Tom will come back looking even better than he does now.” 

Sedaka didn’t even know Fitzgerald had nominated him, and the scholarship came as a complete surprise to him. 

“The people from the NHL just called me out of the blue,” he said. “But it’s pretty cool that I get to go to this camp.” 

Sedaka will be playing with goalies who have been playing hockey their entire lives, but he only hit the ice four years ago when his family moved to Berkeley. At their previous home in southern California, he played roller hockey. 

“Tom was born to be a goalie,” said his mother, Sue. “He got a lesson at the local skate land and won an award for slap-shooting, but he wanted to be a goalie anyway. When we got up here and there was an ice rink right around the corner, that was it for him.” 

Sedaka, who will be a junior at Berkeley High this fall, also works at Iceland, helping younger players find equipment and on the ice. That committment to the program is part of the reason Fitzgerald decided to nominate him for a scholarship. 

“I looked at three things: kids who I thought had good talent at the sport and could benefit from training in different environment; kids who showed a committment to the sport and the program; and financially it would enable them to do something they might not normally have the opportunity to do,” she said. 

Allen said the camp would be a good chance for the player to decide if hockey is something he wants to pursue in college, given the hard work neccesary to play at a higher level against players who have played their entire lives. 

“When you want to develop quickly and raise your level of play, these types of intensive, short camps are definilty a stepping stone to more competitive play. I’d almost say they’re a prerequisite,” Allen said. 

“He has it in him, but whether he wants to do it is up to Tom. I don’t know if that’s his goal, but we want to give him the opportunity. I’m glad he was able to have this opportunity, and I’m glad he decided it was something he wanted to do.” 

Sedaka said he would like to play in college, but he’s not sure if that’s a realistic goal for someone who has only been playing the game for a few years. 

“It’d be nice to play in college,” he said. “I’d like to dedicate myself to hockey a little bit more.”