The Chilliwack Bruins leaving town did not leave Sardis secondary’s hockey academy in the lurch. In fact, if anything, the high school academy will be thriving next year.
Which is exactly what it was built up to do.
“The sign of a good program is one that continues long after the original people are gone,” said vice principal Maryanne Mussell. “When we originally set this up, we wanted something that had legs, so that if any one partner changed, it would still be able to function.”
The academy already has 26 students registered for next year – a 73 per cent increase from its first year.
As well, the school has also formed a new partnership with the Chilliwack Chiefs, which will assist with on-ice coaching, skill development and leadership.
For the Chiefs, it was a natural fit.
“Belonging to a community and showing that we are a part of that community, that’s what we want to do,” said Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl,
For Sardis secondary, the partnership was just another way of engaging their students.
The purpose of the hockey academy is not only to develop players on and off the ice, but to also engage a further range of students who may not have otherwise enjoyed school, and to provide those students with more options for post high school.
In addition to on-ice training, students also learn about nutrition, physical conditioning and leadership. They hear from coaches, a variety of sports experts and visit hockey programs at universities like the University of British Columbia.
Last year’s academy attracted a range of skill levels, including both recreational and top-tiered players.
“Not everybody is going to be a star hockey player; for many, this is as high as they get,” said Mussell.
“When we started this, it was to hook kids on school … and part of the plan was for them to have a viable transition plan in place when they leave school.”
For some, that’s university. For others, it could mean coaching, refereeing, or some other role in the local hockey community.
The academy will again run in the second semester of school to best compliment the players other hockey-related commitments.
Most of the students in the academy already play hockey in the community and many attend hockey camps in the summer. By having the academy in the second semester, “it’s like spring training for them,” said Mussell.
The program operates every day, over two blocks, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
For more information, visit the school’s website at www.sardissecondary.ca