Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

Tahoe Prep boasts solid academic plan that works, on and off the ice


Any young hockey player or parent of a child who aspires to play high-level hockey and pursue a junior or college career knows the struggle of trying to balance travel with academics.

Kids can find themselves commuting an hour or more each direction to practices and games, eating into their study time and forcing them to complete homework assignments in the backseat of their cars.

Missing classes to travel to far-flung tournaments can exacerbate the issue, and before you know it, a kid is forced to choose between success on the ice and excelling in the classroom.


Fortunately for the approximately 50 young men who come from all over the United States and some other countries to attend Tahoe Prep Academy, they don’t have to choose.

At Tahoe Prep, student-athletes walk from their dorm rooms and classrooms to the rink and are on the ice at least five times a week. A unique combination of traditional in-person classes and online learning gives them the flexibility to keep up with their studies whether they’re at home or on the road.

The setup has proved to be beneficial for the academy’s student-athletes ever since Tahoe Prep opened in 2016, putting them in position to maintain the types of grade-point averages needed to attract the interest of college coaches and help them earn admission into the schools of their dreams.

“Ever since Tahoe Prep Academy was just a vision in our heads, we knew that the two cornerstones of building a successful academy were going to be hockey and academics,” said Tahoe Prep athletic director Mike Lewis, who helped found the academy alongside Leo Fenn, Chris Collins, and others. “Our thought process was that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Our model may be a bit different than what most kids and families are used to, but we’ve felt from the beginning that it was the right way to approach it, and as we near the end of our fourth academic year, we think the proof is in the pudding.”

Tahoe Prep Academy boasts five students who currently maintain a grade-point average of 4.0 and three students with 3.8s. Several other members of the Tahoe Prep community came to the academy struggling with their academic performance, and many of those are now regularly posting GPAs of 3.0 or higher.

The student-athletes with 4.0 GPAs include Bobby Doukov, Drew Mazza, Zach Turner, Liam Sutton and Ellis O’Dowd. Students maintaining 3.8s include Kai Schumann, Aidan Brink and Jonathan Gunn.

The founders of Tahoe Prep Academy knew they needed to create an environment that allowed students to thrive on the ice and in the classroom. With a blended block schedule of on-the-ice daily training, face-to-face classes and top-notch online instruction, Tahoe Prep students are not only maintaining high GPAs, but they are raising the bar.

Students take core academic classes with online instructors to accommodate their extensive travel schedule, and their electives are completed in the classrooms at South Tahoe High School – which offers a wide range of career technical choices on their college-like campus, from sports medicine to film making and more.

The Tahoe Prep Academy is a place where student-athletes are encouraged to develop and cultivate their character. The academy’s programs are made for the most dedicated student-athletes and provide an excellent environment to be challenged and learn as they expand their views of the world and champion the core attributes that define true leadership.

The result is a student-athlete poised to compete in a world-class environment, and one who has gained the necessary education to attend the country’s most premier higher-educational institutions.

At Tahoe Prep Academy, administrators look for student-athletes who have a strong commitment to themselves as well as to their academics and athletic and personal growth. Student-athletes must be diligent in their school, sport and community duties, with a willingness to give their all in each area.

Outside the classroom, Tahoe Prep Academy’s hockey program is the West Coast’s first residential boarding school dedicated to the sport of ice hockey. The academy’s student-athletes graduate with the technical skills, game-level hockey IQ and the strategic awareness that is crucial to succeeding at the next levels.

With academics being of utmost importance, the academy’s leadership ensures ample time both in the classroom and on the ice, with up to 300 hours of development hockey training in a single academic year.

By training like a collegiate program, Tahoe Hockey Academy’s graduates are better suited for success at the next levels by having the qualifications and the skill set to match.

“The overarching goal in everything we do day in and day out is to prepare the young men who enroll here for success in their adult lives,” said Fenn, who serves as the varsity head coach. “To achieve that, we ensure that the leave our campus with an outstanding academic foundation and the discipline, work ethic and all the other values that come from playing a sport to put them in position to succeed in hockey and in life.

“We’re confident in the model that we have laid out, and it has been extremely rewarding to see the results of our efforts just four years into this amazing project. We have set the tone for success, and we can’t wait to see where this leads us in the future.”

At Tahoe Prep, young hockey players are challenging the status quo and finding new ways to approach an old problem – balancing a challenging academic course load with the demands of training to compete at a high level and traveling to face the best competition. The approach seems to be working, and the results are indisputable as Tahoe Prep Academy is producing top-notch student-athletes in the truest definition of the term.

— Greg Ball

(March 10, 2020)

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