With Year 3 on tap, Tahoe Hockey Academy attracting players from across U.S.
It may only be March, but while the focus of the student-athletes at Tahoe Hockey Academy is solely on academics and their teams’ performance on the ice, administrators are already deep into their planning for next year.
After nearly two full academic years and hockey seasons, THA has established itself as a known quantity among high school-aged hockey players and their parents. Families know that the academy has delivered on its promise to provide a top-notch educational environment and to give young hockey players the tools to improve their skills and prepare for the next level.
In turn, that has made generating interest in attending the academy significantly easier than it was two years ago or even after the academy’s first year. Open enrollment started in early February, and already Tahoe has had three new players commit – one from Alaska, one from Texas and another from New Jersey. The academy has even hosted a player from New Zealand who is interested in attending.
“It’s been a crazy road that we’ve been on as the buzz has built around us,” said Tahoe prep team coach Mike Lewis. “To think that people are coming to us from everywhere from Alaska to New Zealand is maybe not something we would have expected would happen so quickly. It has been great.”
Tahoe has iced a high school team and a prep team the last two seasons, and if interest continues on its current path, the academy may add a junior varsity squad next year in conjunction with the local high school.
THA has put itself in position to be an attractive place to play and develop hockey skills by building brand new dormitories, adding a fully renovated, college-style locker room to their rink, signing an affiliation agreement with the USPHL’s Potomac Patriots and pursuing entry next season into the new and highly-competitive NAHL Prep league.
“During that first year, the hardest thing was just getting your name out there, because nobody had ever heard of us,” Lewis said. “We were trying to sell people on the idea of what we were trying to do. Now, we have had the exposure of playing outside of California and the success we have had. Where it used to be us knocking on peoples’ doors, now they’re knocking on our doors saying ‘I’ve heard about you guys and everything you’re doing. I’d like to see if you can help my son.’ It makes the conversations a lot easier when people already know who we are.”
Lewis and varsity coach Leo Fenn, along with the rest of the academy’s coaches and administrators, will find themselves on the road plenty in upcoming months, continuing to spread the word about Tahoe Hockey Academy and educating those who may already be interested.
At the end of March, they will have a presence at a showcase in Burbank, Calif., featuring many of the top teams from East Coast prep schools. Run by Peter Torsson, the director of hockey with the California Golden Bears, it’s an event that Tahoe Hockey Academy expressed in attending last year. Torsson suggested they take a year to prove themselves, and because they’ve done that so well, he welcomed them with open arms this year.
They’ll also travel to Colorado for the CCM Hockey Showcase in May, as well as the Global Las Vegas Hockey Camp and Clinic in Las Vegas in June.
“Having the academic and athletic arms synced together and having it where kids aren’t traveling hours each day to practices is huge,” Lewis said. “When we talk to parents, they understand that our kids are like-minded in their pursuit of hockey development and strong academics. It really resonates with a lot of parents because so many of them are interested not only in their kids becoming the best hockey players they can be, but focusing on their schoolwork and preparing themselves for higher education.”
— Greg Ball
(March 5, 2018)