It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
In the world of education, teachers work with students to develop their knowledge and skills, and take ‘snapshots’ of where they are in their development path. Those same ‘snapshots’ allow on-ice instructors at the St. James-Assiniboia Hockey Academy (SJAHA) – a Hockey Canada Skills Academy since 2001 – to gauge the development of students and ensure they’re optimizing their opportunities.
For Joe and Katie Kraus, the SJAHA has played a major role in their success – Joe’s hard work earned him a roster spot with the Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, while Katie made the jump from AA to AAA with the Winnipeg Ice of the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League.
“I found it huge that we could work on our skills during the academy because we don’t really work on them during [minor hockey] practice, and in doing that it made me a better hockey player,” says Joe, who was a part of the SJAHA from Grades 6-10.
“It 100 per cent made me a better hockey player because I got to practice new skills,” added Katie, who has posted 20 points in 25 games with the Ice and has her sights set on playing at the post-secondary level.
The SJAHA truly is for everyone – it accepts players of any skill level and finds a way to help them achieve their goals in hockey. For Thomas and Erica Fleury, the goal was to always get better, but also enjoy the game competitively with their friends.
The Fleury family has been part of the SJAHA since Grade 6 and have used what they’ve learned at the academy to progress to higher levels of competition.
“I enjoy playing hockey for school and it gives me more practice for when I have a game with my hockey team,” says Erica.
Also members of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (which partners with the SJAHA), the Fleurys have been exposed to positive school and community experiences, enabling them to grow into strong students and leaders on their teams.
“They love hockey and were excited that there was a class to focus on something they are passionate about,” says mother Michelle Fleury. “They learn so much without realizing it because they are having fun.”
The SJAHA structures its development program to stress safety, encouragement and development both on and off the ice. This not only allows students to improve their hockey skills, but also enables them to build skills and gain the confidence needed to play organized minor hockey.
Ron Cailo is a perfect example. When most children get to early adolescence, they are uneasy about trying new activities. Ron started playing hockey in Grade 5 and joined minor hockey at the A3 level as a goaltender. Now in Grade 8, Ron is playing A1 and made people take notice during this year’s AA tryouts.
“Ron is a natural,” says Murray Cobb, director of the WJHA. “His movements, positioning and ability to track pucks makes it seem like he has been playing goal since he was two years old. His development appears to be limitless especially when you combine his great attitude with his physical attributes.”
Ron was recently recognized as the WJHA Athlete of the Month for December for his ongoing leadership, positive attitude and work ethic on and off the ice.
And there’s another Cailo on the rise. Ron’s brother Rafael also started hockey at a later age through the SJAHA and has also started playing minor hockey, just like his big brother.
Over the years, the SJAHA has relied on the fundamental ideas of the HCSA program to grow the game through skill development and confidence building, regardless of the starting point of the students.
The SJAHA is proud to have contributed in some way to assisting over 3,000 students work towards their short- and long-term goals, whether they are striving to play hockey at the highest level, starting to play the game for the first time or enjoying the game with friends.