TPH Phoenix Academy blossoming in player development, on ice and in classroom
As Arizona youth hockey continues to grow in numbers, the opportunities for players are increasing as well.
The Total Package Hockey (TPH) Academy is one such result of that growth, and one that is moving the needle for player development, both on the ice and in the classroom.
Brett Blatchford, the academy’s director and head of hockey, said the program formed to fill the void in Arizona of an academy located in metro Phoenix where local AA and AAA aspiring elite student-athletes, both boys and girls, could fine-tune their skills, to build an academy that helps Phoenix-area youth hockey players to reach their fullest potential in the sport and realize that they have every resource available to them – right here in their own backyard.
“Phoenix needed a hockey academy that prioritized a holistic experience and offered a quality blended learning academic solution,” Blatchford said. “In our short two-and-a-half-year history, our students have carried over a 3.7 GPA on average, we have had players taken in the USHL draft, drafted into the WHL, invited to WHL camps, tendered into the NAHL, and advance to the USA Hockey National Camp. From our testing numbers, we can see significant improvement, backed by data, that makes the effectiveness of the TPH Phoenix Academy extremely tangible. This year, we made an investment in SWIFT Gates and Force Plates so that we can track individual results even more accurately and better tell our story to prospective families.”
As the academy moves forward with its “Study. Train. Play.” mentality, the players come from all over the Valley to be part of TPH, including the Arizona Kachinas, Jr. Coyotes, Arizona Bobcats, Arizona Hockey Union, Mission Arizona, and DYHA Jr. Sun Devils.
And while TPH does not compete in games as an academy, Blatchford explained that “we are supplemental training to improve skills, habits, concepts, and details to deliver a more refined player to the club team.”
Blatchford further detailed how the three main entities involved benefit from one another.
“Basically, the Jr. Coyotes, Ice Den, and TPH Phoenix realize that our involvement with one another helps strengthen each business,” said Blatchford. “The Ice Den benefits from having a consistent user during non-traditional hours. The Jr. Coyotes benefit as we take Tier II players and give them the resources to grow into a Tier I player. TPH benefits by being so close to both businesses, and many Jr. Coyotes coaches advocate TPH Phoenix to their club team players. Four of our seven coaches also coach a Jr. Coyotes team and 23 of our 43 student-athletes are Jr. Coyotes.”
“Each is successful in their own right, but success is enhanced by our involvement with one another.”
Marcy Fileccia, Coyotes Ice president, says the collaboration with TPH benefits both the players and the facility.
“As Coyotes Ice has grown our footprint to accommodate the demands for off-ice training the past few seasons to include Ice Den Performance, we created a campus-type feel that set up well to partner with TPH,” Fileccia said. “The student-athletes bring a great energy to the building during the day and with the return of the Arizona Coyotes on a more permanent basis, it creates a unique environment between the two that inspires the players with a daily interaction of what could be possible.”
On the academic side, Amy Reagan is the academy’s head of academics, provided by Sequoia. She is also enamored with the academy’s approach to making the students well-rounded in more than just the game of hockey.
“Our student-athletes are able to maintain their focus and work ethic to prioritize their studies despite the challenges that come with regular hockey travel across the country,” said Reagan. “We provide a hybrid learning experience that gives families academic flexibility through an online learning platform, our on-site learning environment, and hands-on support of our public school partner, Sequoia Choice AZDL.”
In the gym and on the ice, sports training is so important to families that choose to participate in TPH Phoenix, according to Blatchford, who said that TPH staff is present to help the student-athletes at every turn.
“That’s why it is so critical to have an amazing hockey video and on-ice staff that includes Dallas Drake, Michael Grabner, Scott Munroe, Brian Slugocki, Delaney Drake, Kenny Brandt, and I,” Blatchford. “Sports training is not the only reason to come, though. They receive off-ice training from Ice Den Performance directors Shane Harvey and John Isbell. Pro and college players come back to train at IDP in the summers. The coaches at IDP are complete professionals. Our TPH student-athletes are provided the opportunity to train with Shane and John all year long. Academic support and community service is led by Amy and academic success coach KC McGinley. Additionally, we have our nine-part mentorship program lead by COO Francis Anzalone and supplemented by past guest speakers like Shane Doan, Rob Cowie (NHL scout), Craig Cunningham (NHL scout), Barry Smith (former NHL coach), Dave King (former NHL coach), Megan Keller (USA Olympian), Makenna Newkirk (Penn State assistant coach), Bryan Snyder (TPH nutritionist), Mitch Stewart (Arizona Coyotes strength and conditioning coach), and Grant Lyon (Jr. Coyotes goalie coach and financial advisor).
“In short, the Phoenix hockey community has really shown strong interest to get behind the program and that has made it a truly exceptional experience for our student-athletes. We are holistic in our approach and support the student-athletes in every facet of their development, helping them to become more autonomous and self-sufficient for the next step in their hockey development. Our mission statement captures our passion for the growth and development of our TPH student-athletes, as we work to ‘Advance – in and beyond the game – the next generation of impact players.'”
— Matt Mackinder
(December 27, 2022)