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Class finally in session at the Tahoe Hockey Academy

 

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The date of Sept. 12 will mark an important day in Tahoe Hockey Academy’s history.

After years of conceptualizing and months of planning, the academy will officially open to its first class of student-athletes.

Academic lesson plans have been prepared, games have been scheduled, and the hundreds of other details have been put in place to set the foundation for the first hockey prep school in the state of California. While it has been a long and winding road to reach this point, the staff at the school couldn’t be more excited to get its inaugural team on the ice and in the classroom.

“We’ve had a tremendous response from players interested in Tahoe Hockey Academy, and we’ve been fortunate enough to sign some really high-end talent in just our first year,” said J.J. James, the academy’s vice president and head coach. “To see players who’ve competed at some of the top AAA programs in the Western United States call THA home this year is a testament to our focus on player development.”

As with building any successful program, getting the Tahoe Hockey Academy from concept to opening its doors has been all about attention to detail. The academy’s leadership feels that careful planning and its overarching focus on long-term stability should have lasting results for the program.

Mike Lewis, the academy’s athletic director, said that from the beginning, the staff’s goal has been to develop an on-ice curriculum that emphasizes player development, which will in turn enhance team success.

“We may be a first-year program, but by no means is this our first year in creating a program,” Lewis said. “We want to focus on developing better players, first and foremost. We believe that if we make that our emphasis, and we provide the necessary tools to reinforce and promote the concepts that we teach our players on a daily basis, our approach will have huge benefits for these young men down the line.”

And Tahoe Hockey Academy won’t be shy about putting its best foot forward from the start. Armed with a schedule that will feature 60-plus games during the 2016-17 season, the team will play a highly-competitive league schedule and will supplement that by participating in a number of top-level tournaments across the country.

The academy’s team will play in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL). The league’s full 2016-17 schedule hasn’t been released yet, but THA will play in Division I with JSerra, Santa Margarita, Orange Lutheran and Bellarmine Prep starting in mid-September.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, but I doubt we’d be this far without the support of so many people and leagues,” said Leo Fenn, the academy’s president and chief operating officer. “We’re very thankful for the assistance of and the opportunity presented to us by Art Trottier and Matt Blanchart of the ADHSHL, as well as Tom Hancock and William Stone from CAHA and NorCal.”

From Day 1, the coaches will be tasked with bringing players from multiple states and styles to come together to compete as one. With trips to the Bauer World Invite and Silver Sticks, as well as events planned in Manitoba, Colorado, Calgary, Minnesota and Southern California on the horizon, work will need to begin in earnest on opening day.

“Competing in the Western Prep Hockey League and the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League, as well as the top tournaments in the U.S, will let us challenge ourselves and see where we stand,” Lewis said.

“We’re proud to call Tahoe home for our academy,” Fenn added. “The people and the city are great, and we’re excited to represent the community.”

Photo/Joe Naber

– Greg Ball