How does it sound to get to play hockey in the mornings as a high school class, sounds pretty nice, right? This is the reality for those who join Riverside’s hockey academy, and hockey is only a part of the many things done in the program.
Hockey Academy at Riverside first began in 2009, and since then, it has become a large part of the culture of Riverside and the community of sports. It has become a popular class among those who play recreational hockey for their local city, those who play at a higher level and those who want to improve, and even those who have never strapped on a pair of skates before and want to learn
In 2009, Riverside was lucky enough to get the go-ahead to open their own hockey academy after popular demand from hockey enthusiasts in the area. Administrators gave in as kids were starting to transfer to other schools that had hockey programs such as Pitt Meadows Secondary. “It was formed through a lot of demand from students in the community who wanted to play hockey,” said Jeremy Neufeld, a P.E. teacher at Riverside and the current instructor of the Academy.
Neufeld, who has been teaching the program since 2013, discussed how Riverside wasn’t the only Port Coquitlam high school to get an academy. There was an academy at Riverside and Terry Fox, but the number of students enrolling in Riverside’s program became so great that a couple of years ago, Terry Fox dropped the program, and it became a Riverside staple of Port Coquitlam. The school gets players from Fox and other schools join the program.
A big part of the academy’s success are the coaches and the organizers of the dry land training as well as the on-ice practices. Riverside teamed up and has been working with the coaching staff from RPM hockey company for 12 years. As stated on the company’s website, the program prides itself on “personalized instruction that educates and develops students in both the physical and mental aspects required to excel in hockey.”
RPM is a hockey-based company that focuses on many aspects of skills: from bio-mechanics to individual skill progression, such as shooting drills to strengthening shots on goal, and skating drills to work on moves, such as edges and crossovers. Coaches and instructors from RPM are some of the best in the area and have worked with many programs, teams, and highly skilled players. The company has been working with minor hockey in BC for 40 years now. Goalies also have coaches that focus on their growth and development. The coaches work with every player on the ice the same, no matter the skill level.
In the program currently, there are hockey skill testing and fitness testing. Skill testing includes skating ability and durability, shot accuracy, and power. Some of the off-ice testings includes push-ups and sit-ups testing, also the dreaded 5km run. Not all the things done in the academy are testing; some of the practices revolve around having fun with the sport. “We are doing a three-on-three on and off ice tournament for the last week before winter break. Students are going to craft teams and partake in a round-robin style tournament,” said Neufeld.
Riverside’s hockey academy has come a long way from the beginning of the program; in the current 2021 year, there have been “neighboring school games” with the other high schools in the area, including Centennial Senior Secondary in Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows high school. These games are friendly competitions to show the skills of the programs in the area.
Ever since Riverside opened their hockey academy in 2009, athletes at Riverside and neighboring schools have been able to live the dream and play hockey at school as a class. Not only is this a great way to get fitness, instead of doing it the normal P.E. way, but it’s a way to further your skills and love for the game.