North Vancouver School District
the natural place to learn©
Jan 30
Hockey Skills Academy produces superstars

With a last name like Bauer, Naomi was born to play hockey.

However, it was in June of 2011 when hockey took hold of Naomi’s heart.

“I was seven years old, and I watched the Stanley Cup Finals of 2011 – so I decided to play hockey,” she recalls.

Naomi has since suited up for the North Shore Avalanche girls’ hockey team, and found success on the ice.

When Naomi hit high school, she learned of the Hockey Skills Academy hosted by École Windsor Secondary School at Canlan Ice Sports.

Licensed by Hockey Canada, this co-ed program is open to any student in Grades 8 to 12 – regardless of their hockey experience.

Aimed at developing the whole athlete, a fundamental goal of the skills academy is to enhance a player’s confidence and self-esteem while giving them opportunities beyond the secondary school system.

At least two academy graduates have advanced to the NHL: Colton Sissons currently plays for the Nashville Predators, and Jansen Harkins – the Winnipeg Jets.

Another academy grad, Nina Jobst-Smith, now plays professional hockey in Germany.

“The Hockey Skills Academy has great coaches and you get to focus on individual skills you can’t practise during team practices,” explains Naomi, extolling the virtues of the academy. “I get more ice time and more skill training.”

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Naomi also likes the freedom of choice embodied in the school district’s specialty programs.

“I get to go play the sport I love,” says Naomi, who dedicates three blocks a week to improving her hockey skills. 

The program attracts hockey players who bring a spectrum of experience, from novice to elite, with sessions tiered to accommodate ability. Goaltender training is also offered in the academy.

Along with skating practise, stick and puck handling, and three-on-two drills, coaches also cover injury prevention and safety topics, including concussion awareness, with the students.

The program attracts coaches who are good natured and excellent mentors, explains Steve Martin, teacher representative for the Hockey Skills Academy.

“We choose them because they are accomplished players, have excellent leadership qualities and work well with the kids,” says Martin.


Martin has been with the hockey academy since 2004 and often sees leadership in action on the ice on the part of the young players, some of whom step up to lead drills.

One student who started with the academy last fall could not skate at all.

Bolstered by his academy mates and coaches, that student has found his footing and now skates backwards.

“The students in the program this year have been exceptional for that kind of stuff (encouragement),” says Martin.

More information about the Hockey Skills Academy is available here. Student applications will be accepted until February 24, 2020.

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