- BC Games
Hockey academy isn't just about ice time
The inaugural cohort of Skeena Middle School's new hockey academy took to the ice for the first time last week, but an enthusiastic pep talk from the program's founder revealed that what happens off the ice in the academy is just as – if not more – important for student success.
Pacific Rim Hockey Academy owner Craig Millin spoke to newly enrolled academy students at Skeena during the first week of school, using the lunch hour to explain what is expected of the students and what they can expect to gain from the program.
The close to 45 middle school students enrolled in the program, one of 10 in the province, can expect three days a week of ice time, two days of dry land training, and a rigorous, expansive curriculum that covers everything from nutrition, to volunteer work, to goal setting.
But according to Millin, academics is the focus – hockey is used as a motivator – and a student who isn't doing well in their classes won't last in the academy long.
“To be part of this program you have to be diligent and on top of your academics,” said Millin in his speech. “You defeat the purpose of having a hockey academy if you fail your subjects.”
Skeena's athletic director Frank Marrelli will be assessing the students with the support of Pacific Rim staff.
On-ice training and tactics is led by Brad Anderson, and Cody Skog is running the dry-land training – the first week of which had the students running 5k on the Skeena track before a rigorous core and strength workout session.
There are five girls in the program, and about three quarters are recreational hockey players, with about a quarter playing rep hockey.
“It's just kids who love the sport,” said Skeena vice principal Cory Killoran.
And Skeena principal Phillip Barron said the support from parents, the community, the city and the school district was integral to getting the program up and running – it’s been in the works for nearly two years and this year is being treated as a pilot program of sorts. Soccer, aquatic, and dance academies have also been considered.
“We’ll use this to gauge the success of this and the interest level for next year and the possibility of bringing more opportunities like this to kids and families in the area,” said Barron.
“We’re certainly hoping, and feel that this year is going to go well.”