Comox Valley minor hockey players can hone their skills without having to travel out of town thanks to High Calibre Hockey Academy.
The academy begins its second year of operation Sept. 12, with the seven-month program running through to March.
“The main reason we started this is we tried to help the minor hockey program,” said Joey Ewing, a principal owner of the academy along with Cam Knox. “We were losing all these kids to these other huge academies. Their parents were spending way too much money and we were losing our minor hockey enrolment.”
“At the academy we work on individual skill development – power skating, edge control, passing, shooting,” Knox said. “We try to bring self-confidence and discipline to the kids in a fun atmosphere.”
The academy is designed to accommodate minor hockey players’ schedules. On-ice sessions go Monday and Wednesday morning (6-7 a.m. for the younger group, ages 8-12, and 7:15-8:15 a.m. for the older group, ages 13-17) at Glacier Gardens and off-ice sessions (cross-fit training with Stronghearts and yoga with Kaley Williams) Tuesday afternoons after school.
Knox explains the academy includes a range of players from Rep to House who want to get better, enjoy the game, and have a lifelong passion for hockey.
“That’s what Joey and I try to push a lot, that lifelong passion for hockey. I’ve played since I was four years old, I’m 35 and still haven’t quit.”
“Hockey can be a lifelong thing, especially if you have a good skill set and feel comfortable with yourself. Guys at drop-in (hockey), they’re 91 and still playing,” Ewing added.
The academy added a Rep Prep component this year, and Knox and Ewing say it was a huge success.
“This will be a yearly thing we do … to get the kids ready for their Rep tryouts,” said Ewing. “The biggest complaint I’ve heard in 13 years I’ve been coaching minor hockey is that the kids were never ready for Rep tryouts.
“So Cam and I did a three-day camp that simulated a tryout. After we gave them interviews and told them what they needed to work on for their tryouts.
“It’s a great idea. It works so well I wish I had it when I was playing,” Ewing said. “As an owner I’ve been doing hockey schools for over 10 years and one of the best hockey schools I’ve ever been part of was our first year (Rep Prep).”
Minor hockey is also benefitting from the academy. “We teach individual skill sets…and their coaches can focus on the team stuff,” Knox noted.
“The big thing for us, and we’re excited about it too, we’ve just seen such big results from the kids, and parents coming back to us and saying they’ve just changed so much in their hockey skills and their confidence off and on the ice,” Ewing said.
Along with a family atmosphere, the owners credit the academy’s success to its great staff – Curtus Larson, Colin Guiguet, Tony Wishart and Ralph Buchmuller – all locals who have coached and/or played at high levels of the game (as have both Ewing and Knox).
With opening day less than a week away, the academy is filling up quickly but there are still some spaces available. Those interested in registering or wishing more information can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Knox at 250-702-5719 or Ewing at 604-698-5464.
Cost is $250 per month which includes a jersey and set of socks which the players get to keep.