With Year 4 ahead, Tahoe Prep moving in right direction
Summer may be in full swing, with tourists descending on Lake Tahoe for the season and hockey far from most peoples’ minds, but at Tahoe Prep Academy, they’re always looking ahead and are already preparing for a successful 2019-20 academic year and hockey season.
As the burgeoning academy prepares for its fourth year, Tahoe Prep has plenty of returning Tier I-level players who will be joined by student-athletes new to the program this fall who come from all over the country brandishing plenty of academic and athletic promise.
Leo Fenn, Tahoe Prep’s president and coach, said the program’s model of individual hockey development, combined with academic preparation to help the academy’s students prepare for the next level, has proved to be a winning combination.
“We are preparing our students from a hockey standpoint to go on to play at the NCAA level, and also getting them ready from an academic standpoint,” Fenn said. “The two goals complement each other nicely, rather than working against each other.”
Just three years into its existence, Tahoe Prep has proved itself and built a reputation among current and future players and their families that will only help it grow stronger. That has resulted in one of the academy’s best recruiting classes for its prep and varsity squads this season.
The varsity team plays at the AA level in the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks high school hockey leagues and will play more than 40 games this coming season. The academy’s prep team plays at the AAA/Tier I elite level, with more than 50 games in the East Coast Elite League (ECEL) and North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) prep division. New this year, Tahoe’s prep team will play a home series against longtime national powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary’s of Minnesota, which will fall just before the new North American Prep championship.
With each year, the leadership at Tahoe Prep Academy has added more to the academic and athletic offerings, continuing to build and give their student-athletes the biggest and best opportunities to reach their goals.
To handle the growth, former prep head coach Michael Lewis was recently named the school’s first athletic director.
“My new role heading into the 2019-20 school year will incorporate more of the daily operations,” Lewis explained. “Back in 2016, when we were just taking our first steps and establishing ourselves, we were new to the hockey community and had to prove we were capable of being a great option for student athletes.
“As we move into our fourth year, we’ve made great strides as a program on both the local and national levels. The academy continues to progress to the point where more focus can now be applied to the future. This new position allows me the opportunity to find ways to improve our academy and provide a world-class experience for our students. Additionally, I’m also able to determine how we’ll grow in different areas and how that relates to additional sports being brought in throughout the coming years.”
In addition to his new responsibilities, Lewis said he will still be working with the players daily and assisting Chris Collins, who was recently promoted to become head coach of the prep team.
“Mike did a great job at preparing me for this role with his mentorship,” Collins said. “Last year, he let me take leadership and find success with programs I wanted to run.
“The ECEL is a strong competitive league, and I’m looking forward to the team getting the chance to compete against not just the great players in the league but also the good coaches. My goal is to compete and see us make a strong push in the playoffs.”
— Greg Ball
(Sept. 18, 2019)