School your skills at hockey academies

VANIER HOCKEY ACADEMY 2012-13 scholarship recipient Kaela Giomo is presented with $1,000 Dave Creamer Memorial bursary by teacher Dave Miller. - PHOTO SUBMITTED
VANIER HOCKEY ACADEMY 2012-13 scholarship recipient Kaela Giomo is presented with $1,000 Dave Creamer Memorial bursary by teacher Dave Miller.
— image credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED

Students will reach their goals and get an edge on the competition when they join the Vanier and Highland Hockey Academies.

The popular school programs are just wrapping up another successful term — and if last year is any indication, interested kids and parents should start thinking about registering for next year’s academies now.

And why wouldn’t it be popular? Specially designed for players of all abilities, the academies allow kids to work on their good ol’ hockey game during school hours while receiving graduation credits.

“The focus is on skill development and fitness, but it’s also about having fun and learning life lessons along the way,” says Dave Miller, teacher and instructor of the Vanier Academy.

The Vanier program is entering its third year of operation. The Highland program, with coordinator Pati Creamer and teacher Lee McKillican at the helm, has been around for nine years. Both are licensed Hockey Canada Skills Academy, which means Hockey Canada standardizes and monitors the delivery of the hockey experience on and off the ice. Made to be accessible to all levels of competitive and recreational players, male and female students from

Grades 9 through 12 get the opportunity to focus on individual skill development as well as academic achievement.

"It's a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get extra time to work on the finer points of the game. Because it’s about attaining individual goals, it really works for all skill levels," notes Miller.

Twice weekly 75-minute ice sessions include work on stickhandling, shooting, tactical awareness, personal skill development plus power skating. Off the ice, there is a focus on cardio-vascular fitness and hockey-specific strength work, as well as health and wellness seminars and cross-training that has included water running, yoga and even trips to the Comox Firehall for firefighting training.

Additionally, the programs also feature a focus on community involvement, including a coaching unit, where student coaches run skill development practices for local hockey players age 7 to 11. Called Kids Coaching Kids, funds raised go to KidSport, a community run organization that gives financial support to children in the Comox Valley who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford organized sports.

“We’ve had a few chances to do some mentoring this year, between the coaching club and working with visually impaired youngsters,” notes Miller. “We want our students to become better players, but we also want them to learn about becoming better people.”

The popular academies register students on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information and to register for the Vanier program click on the Hockey Canada icon on the G.P. Vanier homepage or visit their website at For more information on the Highland Academy call Pati Creamer at 250-339-0705 or visit


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