FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – As kids go back to school today, the Northeast BC/Yukon Trackers will be getting a bit more ice time this coming season thanks to a new program at the North Peace Secondary School and Energetic Learning Campus.
The two NPSS campuses will be bringing the Hockey Canada Skills Academy Program this coming season for the 19-player roster and 10 affiliated players that reside in the Energetic City this coming season. ELC Vice Principal Sheldon Steele says that the program has been officially running at Dr. Kearney Middle School for a few years, and has been unofficially running at NPSS for the past 8-10 years. Steele says that Phil Hiscock has been teaching a hockey class as part of the ELC’s Physical Education Program for some those years. Hiscock proposed formally adding the Skills Academy Program to the Trackers board at the end of last year, who were enthusiastic about the change. Steele explained that the impetus for offering the program was when members of the local hockey community noticed that many high-calibre talent from the Northeast was heading to hockey academies elsewhere.
The program will see players on the ice four days a week before their 2nd block class, in lieu of Phys. Ed, with dryland training on the fifth school day. The players will also be training in the weight room after school three days per week. The on-ice class will feature two classes: Steele will be teaching a class for those that aren’t playing for the team and still wish to take hockey as part of P.E., while the Trackers players will be taking instruction from Hiscock as well as Trackers head coach David Johnston. Johnston has been involved with the program for many years, both in an advisory role and as a parent. He says that the program makes a huge difference in player development, having seen results with his kids firsthand.
Steele says that while the emphasis lies on hockey throughout the season, once Spring has arrived the class takes a slightly more athletic turn and will focus more on nutrition, training, nutrition, and mental preparation. Johnston says that that there will be a high emphasis on academics throughout the year, and that players not maintaining a good work ethic would be benched. Steele says that instead of maintaining a set grade point average, students in the program will have their work habit grades looked at. He added that there is often a correlation between work habits and letter grades, saying that “they are student athletes, and the student part comes first.” He did however elaborate, saying that a student wouldn’t be seen to have not done well in, for instance Math, if their GPA was a bit lower than their work ethic grade.