Evolution a one-stop shop for elite development
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By Matt Mackinder
The Evolution Elite Hockey Academy has broken structure and organization down to a science.
With a new junior squad this season competing in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) – the Colorado Evolution – the program now has teams from head to toe from learn-to-skate and learn-to-play all the way up to its WSHL club.
“Couple that with our own rink (Denver’s Big Bear Ice Arena) and gym (Authentic Performance Center, which is located inside Big Bear), and we’ve really become a fully-functional ice hockey school,” said Evolution vice president Vassiliy Larchenko.
“The Evolution Academy is one of the best hockey schools in the United States and the top hockey school in Colorado. There’s no need to leave if your kid has high-end goals when it comes to hockey; we have everything to help build and develop children, from our coaches to our state-of-the-art facility.”
In addition to the learn-to-skate and learn-to-play teams, Evolution has 7U, 8U, Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam and 16U squads in place for the 2014-15 season.
“We really have a winning formula in place when it comes to player development, and people can see that now,” Larchenko said.
Off the ice, the 7,500 square-foot state-of-the-art Authentic Performance Center provides ideal space for all of Evolution’s players to learn and develop their dryland regimen and will be incorporated into each one’s training. The sessions are integrated cohesively with team practices and administered at the Authentic Performance facility.
Authentic Performance features a host of elite-level coaches with vast backgrounds in hockey and over 25 years of performance training with youth, college and professional athletes, including current NHL players and multiple players who’ve won NCAA championships.
The focus is on a progression-based training format which concentrates on the development of proper skating mechanics, body control and awareness, lower- and upper-body strength, power output, quickness, agility and speed enhancement.
The team-training focus is designed to provide the best experience for off-ice training where athletes can learn individual skill sets and proven methods to optimize their strength, balance and quickness while incorporating aspects of team-building away from the ice in a fun and safe environment.
At the junior level, head coach and general manager John Kopperud will stick to the coaching style that’s gained him a much-heralded reputation across the state over the years.
Kopperud, a USA Hockey Level 5 Master coach, has won three Colorado Amateur Hockey Association state championships. He’s also made two national tournament appearances, winning a national title with the Denver Jr. Pioneers’ Pee Wee AA team in 2012.
“(The WSHL) is all about development and exposure, and while we want the squad to be as competitive as possible, our real success will be determined by how many players we move up to the higher levels,” said Kopperud.