School district approves hockey skills academy

A Hockey Canada Skills Academy may be offered to students at Skaha Lake Middle School next year.

Skaha Lake Middle School is hoping to implement a Hockey Canada Skills Academy for next year.

A Hockey Canada Skills Academy may be offered to students at Skaha Lake Middle School next year.

The fully licence Hockey Canada Skills Academy specializes in individual performance training during school hours and was given the approval of the Okanagan Skaha School District at their board meeting on Monday.

Through a partnership with Hockey Canada, Okanagan Hockey Group, Skaha Lake Middle School and the school district the program could be offered to up to 90 male and female students in 2017-2018. Program fees would range between $800 to $1,100.

“I am hoping to have some students join that never played hockey before. For families that can’t afford $1,100, we are working with the City of Penticton and OHA to make arrangements. We would encourage them to pay something for accountability, but will look to subsidize whether that is providing equipment or transportation,” said Allen Beckingham, principal Connect Ed, French program and Aboriginal program.

The skills academy would provide approximately 57 on-ice sessions throughout the school year and 28 off-ice sessions which would be in place of the students regular physical education class. Students would be dropped off at the OHS Community Rink or South Okanagan Events Centre in the morning, on their own accord, for an 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. ice time. The students then would receive transportation back to the school. On-ice training sessions would utilize the instructors from Okanagan Hockey Group, including goalie coaches, and ideally would also have the PE teacher on the ice. Off-ice sessions would be delivered by the PE teacher and guest speakers on topics such as nutrition, leadership development, sport psychology and introduction to coaching and refereeing.

“If you look at in terms of payment per month, it would be approximately $100 per month for instruction, the on-ice and the whole package. It is quite a reasonable amount,” said Beckingham.

At the start of the program students would have baseline data and be expected to improve over the year. Testing will be done using OHA apparatus such as the WHL combine.

Beckingham said the skills academy has the support of Penticton Minor Hockey Association as it would not interfere with their programs and would provide players with extra ice time to dedicate to individual skill development and potentially introduce the game to new players.

“Penticton Minor Hockey is excited because they have a passion for sport, passion for hockey. I sat on the board last year and know a lot of people that have personally said it is creating a little bit of a buzz in the community.”

The next steps for the program is a parent meeting to highlight the application process and set a deadline to apply.