Tahoe Hockey Academy boasts solid marks at halfway point
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As 2016 draws to a close, the leadership at Tahoe Hockey Academy is taking some time to reflect on the trials and tribulations of starting a hockey academy from the ground up, and the many successes they’ve encountered since opening their doors to their first class of student-athletes on Sept. 12.
“Our goal from Day 1 was to build a hockey academy that rivaled what could be found in most junior and NCAA Division I programs throughout the country,” said academy president Leo Fenn. “This entailed more than just booking ice and scheduling games, and although it hasn’t been an easy task, we feel like we’re taking the right steps to build a foundation for lasting success.”
Lake Tahoe is an amazing location for athletic training. The U.S. ski team and recent winter Olympic medalists such as Jamie Anderson, Maddie Bowman and Hannah Teter made it their training base, and Fenn is fully aware of what makes it such an ideal area.
“We’re proud to be members of the Tahoe athletic community, as we understand the benefits of sport-specific, high-altitude training,” he said. “Lake Tahoe allows us the proper training environment that enables our student-athletes optimum results. Factor in a curriculum that mimics USA Hockey’s American Development Model, and the product on the ice is beginning to reap the rewards.”
Those rewards seem to be turning a few heads in the process. The team was recently invited by North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) director Lucas Trombetta to compete in a NAPHL tournament. Tahoe went 3-1 in round robin play and lost by one goal to the eventual tournament champion, and head coach Michael Lewis felt that the results spoke volumes for the quality that Tahoe is already putting on the ice.
“To be in front of junior, college and NHL scouts as well as compete against some of the top high school and club teams in North America is all you can ask for,” Lewis said. “To see our team compete at such a high level with roughly two months of development under our belts was extremely rewarding.”
Of course, there’s more to Tahoe Hockey Academy than simply hockey, as academics play a huge role in the daily lives of the academy’s student-athletes. While plenty of time is spent developing better hockey players, an equal amount of time and energy is focused on producing excellence in the classroom.
“When we opened our doors in September, we started with students in grades 9 through 11, with each student having the opportunity to enroll in a number of advanced classes,” Fenn said. “Partnering with U.S. Performance Academy (USPA) to serve as our educational component has allowed our athletes a chance to train, travel and compete while staying on top of their studies.
“We would be hard pressed to provide the weekly hours of on-ice and off-ice training in a traditional club hockey environment. USPA was pivotal in taking our program to the next level, and helping our students increase their grade point averages to our 3.0 requirement speaks volumes about our program’s success so far.”
With 2017 right around the corner, the natural question for all those involved in this startup academy surrounds what’s next. The academy has a load of hockey development planned for the upcoming months, with an individual testing combine, a full slate of games in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League and their THA future prospect tournaments.
“We’ll be busy, and we’ll be spending considerable time fine-tuning each player’s development,” Lewis said.
Although it’s still a brand-new program, the leadership at Tahoe Hockey Academy is working hard to put itself on the map with the most prestigious academies in the country. It won’t be an overnight venture, but based on the past, present, and the future, those that call the academy feel like they’re right where they need to be.
— Greg Ball