When COVID-19 restrictions halted organized sports across the province, it didn’t stop one family from thinking outside the box – or rink – to keep active.
Fueled by a passion for hockey and can-do attitude, father and son duo, Rich and John Vrataric, created close to 40 physical literacy training videos for the Huskies Hockey Association in Hamilton.
Before the lockdown, John, a grade 6 student at St. Mark Catholic Elementary School, could be found on the ice several times a week hustling alongside his 09’s AAA Hamilton Huskies teammates, with coach Rich leading the development drills.
With practice and games paused for the time being, the videos started out as an idea to keep the team motivated and help them continue dry-land training until the season could resume. After countless hours spent planning, rehearsing and recording, 29 videos were uploaded in one night and shared with the team and its organization – and they show no signs of slowing down.
Set in the family’s basement, each video features John giving a visual demonstration while Rich commentates on every movement and purpose of the exercise. Videos range from core strength, to stick handling to speed training and are each only a few minutes long to allow viewers to create their own workout routines by mixing and matching different segments.
While originally intended for hockey teammates, the family invites anyone to try the workouts.
But being physically active isn’t the only benefit to come from these videos.
“We believe it helps with our mental well-being,” said mom and Special Education Resource Teacher Rose Vrataric.
Getting together to produce the videos has provided much needed quality time for the family and allowed them to connect with friends in a meaningful way by inspiring daily movement. By uploading pre-recorded videos, it allows others to access them at their convenience.
“It’s easy to complain about being in lockdown, but we try to be creative to keep our spirits up. It’s about finding the silver lining.”
So far, the videos have generated over 1,000 views with all positive feedback.
“John always used to say that he wanted to be a YouTuber when he grew up, as well as an NHL player,” said Vrataric. “This is a positive outlet to share his love of fitness and hockey with his teammates and peers.”
It’s also a learning experience for John who’s now discovered how behind-the-scenes efforts are just as important as what’s on camera.
"As a mom, to see how much time my husband puts in with his son, working on a goal together and turning into something not only for them but for others, it’s very special.”
The videos, which are free to access, currently only feature John and Rich due to current restrictions. The family is hoping once things go back to normal, they can take their production to live team practices and invite other teammates to star in the series.
Right now, the videos focus on showcasing fundamentals, but in the future, they are planning on adding a bit of fun into the videos, like trick shots.
To access the videos, please visit: https://youtu.be/mgud6MZsA-I