Parents, students and school representatives will gather to discuss the feasibility of offering a hockey academy to Whistler and Pemberton students next year.
If approved, the program will give young players in grades 8 to 12 the opportunity to pursue hockey training through RPM/Pacific Rim Hockey Academy (PRHA) as part of their schooling. The information sessions are slated for Feb. 17 at Whistler and Pemberton Secondary Schools and will include school district 48 and academy representatives.
“We bring a high level of technical instruction to the kids’ development of hockey skills and ensure those tough-to-teach skills are taught properly,” said Craig Millin of PRHA, who will be presenting at the information meeting. “This takes pressure off of minor hockey coaches.”
The academy, established in 2004, works hand-in-hand with public school systems to integrate board-approved hockey academies in regular schools and allow students to pursue both school and hockey. With alumni like Burnaby’s Patrick Wiercioch, who currently plays for the Ottawa Senators, the PRHA has a reputation for turning out skilled hockey players from each of its 12 secondary academies.
Students registered for the academy will skate in three on-ice sessions per week focused on puck handling, tactical play and skating. Students will also participate in two off-ice sessions each week that include topics like hockey-specific training, health, fitness, nutrition, personal growth and leadership education. The program will run through the first school semester.
But hockey isn’t the sole purpose of the proposed hockey academy for Whistler and Pemberton Secondary Schools, Millin said.
“Academics are a priority,” he added. “No matter how good a player thinks they are it is not at the expense of their academics. The program is school-driven and we have an academic mandate, not a minor hockey mandate.”
Students involved in the program receive physical education credits or board-approved elective credits and work experience.
Mike Readman, vice principal of Dawson Creek Secondary School, said the academy has been a “resounding success” at their school.
“The program is being enjoyed by 49 grade 8-12 student this year who are working hard in the program and in school in general,” Readman said. “We are getting lots of positive feedback from teachers about the positive influence the program is having on the students as well. Attendance, academic success, and behaviour have all shown an improvement this year as a result of students being involved in such a positive experience.”
Ice time for the program is tentatively booked at the Whistler arena from 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The cost of the program will be $256 per month for five months — the length of one semester.
A newsletter sent to parents said that no student will be denied acceptance because of inability to pay and that special arrangements can be made by contacting either Whistler or Pemberton Secondary School principals.
The parent information evening is on Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. at WSS and again at 7:30 p.m. at PSS. For interested parents, attendance is strongly encouraged. For more information on the Pacific Rim Hockey Academy, please visit www.rpmhockey.com.