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Tahoe Hockey Academy: What a difference a year makes

 

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The beginning of a new year is a time when most people make resolutions to improve in the year ahead while reflecting on what they have achieved in the previous 12 months.

The staff at the Tahoe Hockey Academy (THA), although off to a great start in its inaugural season and school year, is hard at work putting together plans for its 2017 recruiting class.

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“Our goal right now is to continue establishing an awareness about our brand and also introduce ourselves to student-athletes who could benefit from what Tahoe Hockey Academy has to offer,” THA president Leo Fenn said. “At this point last year, we were nothing more than an idea, a concept of what could be. To see where we are now is a testament to the hard work and support of our staff, parents and players.”

Unlike most club teams or even high school teams in California, Tahoe Hockey Academy is a full-time resident academy that focuses on both academics and athletics.

“I grew up playing hockey in Southern California, and up until this past year there were zero options for a California player to attend a resident hockey prep school locally,” associate coach Chris Collins said. “To be a part of the Tahoe Hockey Academy, where we provide the daily development and instruction needed to advance our players’ games, shows just how far hockey has grown over the last 10 years.”

With that growth comes additional expectations. Tahoe Hockey Academy is paving the way as the first school of its kind in the state.

“We want to evolve and continue to find the best ways to help our student-athletes advance,” Fenn said. “We want to make sure that 2017 is better than the year before it, so we can continue to provide the best experience possible for our students.”

If past achievements are any indication of what the future holds for the staff in Tahoe, then 2017 is already shaping up to be a promising season.

“We have some unfinished business so far from the 2016 season with the WPHL Championships, the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League playoffs and various tournaments, so we’re focused on preparing our teams to compete,” Collins said. “We also understand that it’s the relationships we establish, and the communications we set up with potential prospects, that will allow us to continue to build our program. We’ve performed well in our league as well as the showcases we’ve attended, so that’s a great way to show potential prospects what Tahoe Hockey Academy can offer.”

As the staff turns its attention to the class of 2017, THA has a busy schedule ahead.

“The model works – we’re a development-first type of program that offers our athletes up to 10 hours of ice each week while providing a dedicated academic environment,” Fenn said. “The program isn’t for everyone, as it does take a dedicated and self-driven student-athlete to succeed, but the proof is in our improvement on the ice as well as in the classroom, as each of our players have increased their overall GPA since Day 1.”

The early part of 2017 will see THA off to Colorado, the University of Notre Dame and many points in between. Then it’s summer camps, prospect tournaments and showcases while the staff hits the trail looking for the right players for the program.

“It’s an exciting time of year to meet new prospects and parents to discuss the possibilities for 2017,” Fenn said. “In the end, we’re hockey people, but we’re also parents who understand the rigors of travel hockey and the social dynamics of being in high school.”

With one foot in the present and another in the future, THA continues to make positive strides in establishing itself locally and nationally.

Photo/Joe Naber

— Greg Ball