I am filled with pride when I see that one of our former students and one of our longtime instructors, Eric Levine, is now at the helm of Midwest Goalie School. As the school’s founder and as the Director of the camp for the first 28 years of its existence, I wanted to share the history of the camp, and exactly why Eric is the perfect person to oversee the school as it goes forward.
MGS was founded in 1982. Our first instructional staff and I had worked at a local goalie camp, but we felt what was being offered by that camp could be improved upon. When we approached the camp’s owner about ways to make it better, he refused. He was not a goalie; the camp was just a business to him. So we decided to move out on our own, and Midwest Goalie School was born. During an era where the butterfly was still controversial, we were the only goalie camp that used that form as the central part of our instruction. In those days, skate saves were still the primary puck-stopping movement. Yet I was convinced that the butterfly was the superior move in both stopping the initial shot, in recovery, and in rebound control. That thought process and conviction came from my admiration for Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall, who invented the butterfly and is indeed the “Father of Modern Goaltending.” We held true to Glenn’s convictions that skating, great balance, and mental preparation were the tentpoles upon which great goaltending was built. In tribute to Glenn, all of the jerseys at MGS feature the number one on the back.
Beyond the butterfly, Midwest was different because we addressed the mental part of the game with equal attention and importance as the physical parts of the game. “Uncle Chico’s Story Hour” became a popular feature for our students, and the lectures that were filled with the right balance of instruction and humor got the messages across of the necessary mental strength and confidence that were essential to great goaltending.
MGS recognized that having challenging shooters was crucial to the quality of the camp, so we were the first camp to hire shooters, and to train those shooters to shoot in a manner that complimented the instruction of our staff, challenged our goalies, and had fun with our goalies. We were also the first camp to use video review. MGS also hired terrific young instructors who were either at the peaks of their playing careers or who had strong collegiate careers — careers that lent to their teaching credibility.
The extra attention and reasonable cost of the school, together with my determination NOT to expand to other markets (and lose control of the quality of instruction in the process), allowed us to have a large and loyal following. So many of our students returned summer after summer, growing up with us, and blossoming with us. On the web site, you can find a list of the distinguished alumni from the camp, and as proud as I am of the names you might recognize, I am just as proud of the names you don’t see; goalies who came to us to find a place where they could be amongst others like them, to have a place they could go every year where they could be understood and appreciated.
That we created that environment successfully may be what I am most proud of. That we gave our students a sense of their value, a sense of confidence, and that they stayed in touch for years after their playing days were over was touching and appreciated. Any of you who have worked with Eric will understand that what you will get from him and his hand-picked staff will be exactly what Midwest Goalie School has always provided for our students. We offered quality instruction. But we gave our students more; we gave them confidence, and we cared. That element is far more important and more lasting than teaching how to control a rebound. Eric will make that a priority, and Midwest Goalie School will go on as I envisioned it.
I appreciate that, and each of you fortunate enough to attend going forward, certainly will as well. The equipment has changed a lot since our first year, but the heart of what Midwest Goalie School is, is exactly the same. And that heart can be summed up in the three rules of goaltending that formulated what we taught:
Your stick is always on the ice, the puck is always centered on your chest, and FORWARDS ARE STUPID.
— Tom “Chico” Adrahtas
Founder, Midwest Goalie School