For nearly 10 years now, Spartan hockey players have been returning to their roots to work out and get in shape at Munn Ice Arena in the summer.
Every summer, former Michigan State University hockey players come back to campus to hang out with all of their friends and to get in shape for the upcoming National Hockey league season, according to Tom Newton.
Newton is assistant coach for the hockey team at MSU. According to msuspartans.com, he has been at MSU for 18 seasons.
The Pro Camp is what it is called and it normally takes place the week before what used to be Welcome Week, according to Newton.
The idea of Pro Camp was brought up to Newton by one of his former players, Jason Muzzatti. Muzzatti played at MSU from 1987-1991 as a goalie and has since played for Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers, and also played for the Italian national team in the 2006 Olympics.
Muzzatti came to Newton one summer and said that a bunch of the guys were coming back to town and they are getting together but nothing is very organized, according to Newton.
They thought that if they could get something together that would be organized and helpful the players would be all for it, according to Newton.
Dave Carrier and Tom Magee bought into the summer camp so they could have athletic training and other types of help, according to Newton. Carrier is the athletic trainer and Magee is the equipment manager for the hockey team at MSU.
The players that show up are mostly old MSU guys that either live close by or will come up for the entire week just to work out with their friends, according to Newton.
There are even some that come that did not go to MSU, but are really close friends of the guys that come back and know that they would like to work out and it would be helpful for them to do it at State, according to Newton.
â€œIt varies from anywhere between 26 or 27 and probably the least we have had is 18,â€ said Newton.
The former players come back for a few different reasons. A main reason he thinks is they come back because they like it here at the arena and love the university, according to Newton.
â€œThe players know they will be pushed, it is organized, competitive, and they will be taken care of,â€ Newton said.
The last thing is that they know that their buddies will be back here to work out also and it is great to be able to hang out and see them and old friends they have, according to Newton.
Jared Nightingale has been attending camp and this year will be his fourth year. He just recently re-signed a contract with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.
â€œGood players are there and it is good to see familiar Spartan faces,â€ Nightingale said. â€œSpartan hockey is a tight knit family and it is a way to bridge the gap.â€
Nightingale said his favorite part of camp is just being in the locker room and hearing all the stories from the different guys.
â€œMost of the players start coming into the rink within a month or two after their season ends. They all start working out and hanging around town so I usually see them quite often,â€ said Steve Lantzy, Assistant Manager of Arena Operations at Munn Ice Arena.
He has worked at the arena since July of 2002 and he has been following Spartan hockey for as long as he can remember, according to Lantzy.
â€œMy dad used to have season tickets probably since just after I was born and kept them up until I started working at Munn,â€ Lantzy said.
Lantzy said that he watched the guys that come to camp when they were playing for the green and white.
â€œI think it's great that the former players come back to campus for the summer. I'm glad that Munn and the University is able to provide them the opportunity to do so,â€ said Lantzy.
According to Lantzy, he thinks that the guys that come back to campus and work out show a great sense of what it means to be in the Spartan family.
Of all the things these guys that choose to come back and sort of give back to the university are good because they have so many other choices and choose their roots, according to Lantzy.