Like any high performance sports organization, development is key to ensuring the team’s future growth and performance, and J. L. Crowe’s new High Performance Hockey Academy is no different.
As the Major Midget Ice get set to open the season, the coaches and staff at J. L. Crowe are also incorporating a younger group of Grade 10 players into the Academy via a Junior Varsity program.
“We have a great group of Grade 10 students that are in the J.V. program at school,” said Ice General Manager and Crowe teacher Terry Jones. “They’re working out, they have a fitness program, they’re on the ice, and we do a leadership course, exact same stuff we’re doing with the varsity kids.”
The team hits the ice every morning before school for a rigourous workout with instructors Dave Pasin and Kyle Wheeler. The program is part of the culture that Jones, the Crowe staff, and Ice coach Kris Boyce and his assistants are trying to build, but are finding roadblocks.
“We wanted them to have the opportunity to play games as a group, and so I approached BC Hockey as a school administrator to say if it was possible for us to have these guys play in exhibition or in tournament.”
BC Hockey’s response wasn’t what Jones expected and the organization has yet to sanction the junior varsity team’s participation in any games. Jones says that the school is working with Trail Minor Hockey and BC Hockey to resolve the issue.
Hockey Canada Sport Schools, like Okanagan Hockey Academy, have development teams (Jr. Varsity or prep) that play in various leagues, enabling these academies to develop young players. The major difference between most Sports Schools and Crowe is that the Trail secondary school is public while most sports schools are private institutions with significantly higher costs.
In any event, Jones and Boyce are intent on building a program that will compete and be successful in the BC Major Midget League, and the ability to develop players not only for the Ice and Female AA A Midget Wild, but the Smoke Eaters and Nitehawks and beyond, is the main goal.
“There’s been a lot of work and a lot of energy spent by a lot of people to get to this point, and we still have lots to do, and now the majority of the work comes on these guys (Boyce et al) to continue to build,” said Jones. “The wins and losses are a measuring stick, but just seeing how guys are improving and developing and seeing how the creation of the team unit, the culture of the team, seeing that grow – wins start to come when the culture grows.”
The Major Midget Kootenay Ice open its season on Saturday at the Cominco Arena at 4 p.m. against Prince George, and play again on Sunday at 9:45 a.m.