High school students balance textbooks with slapshots

Bishop Carroll will become the fourth high school in Calgary to offer the Hockey Canada Skills Academy, or HCSA, beginning this fall.

The program allows students to gain credits and refine their talents while getting a chance to use coveted ice time during off-peak hours in the day.

“It’s good for students to have choices in their education and what they’re looking to get out of their high school career,” said Kevin Bathurst, manager of school programs with Hockey Canada.

“For Bishop Carroll to have the Hockey Canada Skills Academy as another option will help students wanting to pursue a career in sports, sport medicine or elsewhere.”

The program is currently available at Bishop O’Byrne, Notre Dame and Springbank Community High Schools.

Students in the program get two hours of ice time per week and follow curricula developed by Hockey Canada to ensure a broad development of skills as well learning about nutrition and sports medicine.

Since there are no prerequisites for the program, both males and females can participate at any level of experience.

Bishop Carroll has three feeder schools that already offer the program: St. Joan of Arc, St. James and St. Gregory elementary and junior high schools. This prompted the high school to register and license the program.

“They came knocking on our doors saying we’d like to continue this, so we went ahead,” said Daniel Danis, principal for Bishop Carroll.

“We are looked at as a sports-minded school,” said Danis. “A third of our students come here for sports related to swimming (or) hockey and need a flexible schedule, so having the HCSA will continue to increase the notion that we are open to sports and training.”

About 25-30 students per grade will be admitted into the program during the first year, though participation levels will be assessed as the years progress, said Danis.

Grade 10 student Kelly Knudtsen, who plays midget hockey, is looking forward to working on his game during school hours.

“Two days a week is two hours, and all those hours add up,” said Knudsten, who wants to focus on his shots and skating. “It lets you improve your skills and make new friends, so if you like hockey, just do it.”

jrafuse@cjournal.ca