A new hockey academy at Brooks Secondary School is proving successful in its first month, according to staff associated with the program.
“The kids are excited and they’re in their element,” said Jodi Mastrodonato, the teacher heading up the program at Brooks. “They’re getting course credits for playing hockey, and they like not having to get up early for practices and having time after school for other activities.”
The hockey academy has been six years in the making and is a partnership between Powell River Minor Hockey Association (PRMHA) and School District 47. It runs from the beginning of the school year until Friday, January 31, 2020, the end of the semester.
“We looked at the other two attempts to run a hockey academy at Brooks and talked to the people involved,” said Brooks principal Bill Rounis. “We realized that we had to follow the school calendar rather than the hockey calendar. We were able to provide a counterproposal to PRMHA, and they said yes. In fact, this model has already been so successful that we’ve had enquiries from two other organizations in Powell River about starting other sport academies.”
Students in the academy are in grades eight through 12, with both boys and girls hockey represented. Grade eight and nine students practice two mornings per week in hockey skills and dryland fitness, and earn academic credits for a physical education course.
Grade 10, 11 and 12 students attend the academy five days per week: two days of hockey skills and dryland fitness, two days of midget team practice, and one day of academic work related to hockey, including topics such as coaching, history, taping and nutrition, among others.
Full-time students receive academic credit for a physical education course and an elective.
The program provides a cost-effective option for young Powell River hockey players looking to increase their skills.
“Some dedicated hockey schools can cost up to $40,000 per year in tuition, let alone billeting fees,” said Mastrodonato. “The academy fees for our program are $500 for the part-time and $1,500 for full-time students, and those fees cover the cost of bringing in professionals to share their knowledge. The school district covers the cost of busing, and is providing academic credit and school time for the academy.”
Joe Caldarone, who runs the hockey skills and dryland fitness training, sees the value in providing this type of education close to home.
“We have lots of great hockey people here, and this program allows us to give back to the game and help the next generation,” he said. “When I was their age, I was passionate about getting better but I didn’t know how to do it. I wish I’d had someone to mentor me, so now my goal is to be that mentor for them.”
The impact on the students is already showing.
“I had one mother say to me she can’t believe her kid is doing homework on a regular basis, and that he’s not late for school anymore,” said Rounis. “In the academy, if you’re late for school, you’re late for practice. These kids are passionate about hockey, and they won’t be late for practice.”
Anyone with enquires about the hockey academy program for September 2020 can contact Rick Hopper (PRMHA) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jodi Mastrodonato (Brooks) at email@example.com.