Breaking in to a higher level of hockey can be a challenge, even for the most highly-skilled young players. This season, the Burnaby Express will be trying to make that process easier. In September, as many as 26 teenagers with an eye on exploring junior hockey will take to the ice as part of the team's Junior A Preparation Academy.
The Academy, which is being headed by Express general manager Darcy Rota, will introduce players born between 1991 and 1993 to the ins and outs of the game at the Junior A level. Through on-ice instruction and weekly seminars conducted by their coaches and industry experts, the team hopes to better prepare prospects for the experiences they'll face as junior players.
“We're really excited to get the Academy off the ground, and I think it will be a very positive experience for the players who participate,” Rota says. “We're going to concentrate on hockey skills, but also on subjects like nutrition, fitness, and academic preparation.”
The team is lining up an impressive roster of speakers to fill the program's seminar component. Players will have the opportunity to learn from professional and college coaches and scouts – and at least a couple well-known names have committed to participating.
As part of the program, the Express have teamed with the BC Ministry of Education to ensure that players who enter the Academy receive high school credit for their participation. They'll also have the opportunity to join the team on a road trip and soak in the experience of preparing for a game firsthand.
“It's going to be a great opportunity for players who want to get their first taste of junior hockey,” Rota says.
The Burnaby Express Junior A Preparation Academy is still accepting applications for a limited number of spaces for the upcoming season. To learn more or to apply, contact the Burnaby Express at (604) 473-4625.