The inaugural hockey academy program at Fort Frances High School saw 28 Grade 7 and 8 students (10 girls and 18 boys) enrolled for the 2017-18 school year.
It ran from Oct. 3-March 8, allowing registered students to receive structured hockey training during regular school hours in an effort to enhance both academic and athletic achievement.
“The reception to the program has been great,” instructor Jeff Ogden enthused. “The feedback that I received from the students was very positive.
“They enjoyed being able to incorporate hockey into their regular school day,” he noted.
“All of the feedback that I have received thus far from parents has been great [and] I believe the parents see the benefit of the program, which also helped us have a great year,” Ogden added.
Sanctioned by Hockey Canada, classes consisted of hour-long practices every Tuesday and Thursday at the Ice For Kids Arena, as well as an hour of dryland training once a week.
The program here was modelled after the successful one operated by the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, with academies in Dryden, Ignace, Kenora, Red Lake, and Sioux Lookout.
“I definitely saw an improvement in the students this year,” Ogden said. “Having the opportunity for the extra ice time definitely benefitted them.
“I also had a number of parents come up to me and say the same thing; that they noticed quite an improvement in their child this year,” he added.
“So that makes you feel pretty good about the program.”
Although the academy took place during school hours, participating students did not miss any academic work as the lessons made up their phys. ed. time.
As well, the other students participated in their own phys. ed. program while the hockey academy was running, meaning no one missed out on any academic or athletic time the rest of the class received.
“I really enjoyed being able to work with some of the students outside of the classroom,” noted Ogden.
“To see some of the other strengths that students have was neat, and something that might not have been evident in the classroom,” he conceded.
“I just really enjoy being on the ice, working with kids, and helping them improve their skills.
“These kids are so passionate about hockey,” Ogden added.
“They love the game so much, it makes it really easy to work with them,” he lauded.
Looking ahead, Ogden has some areas in mind that he’d like to see the program improve upon.
“I believe with any new program, there will always be areas to improve on,” he remarked.
“I felt the on-ice portion of the program went very well this year,” he noted. “I believe we challenged the students to work hard and improve on their skills.
“That being said, it can always be better.
“I am always looking for new drills to incorporate into the practices,” Ogden said.
“And I will be heading to Calgary this summer to attend the Hockey Canada Skills Academy seminar and will get a few new ideas to improve the program for next year,” he revealed.
Being the program only is open to Grade 7 and 8 students currently, will it be open to more grades in the future?
“I really hope so,” Ogden replied.
“As of right now, the plan for next year is to continue with the Grade 7 and 8 students from Fort Frances High School, [but] I do hope to see the program expand to further grades in the future,” he said.