Joining Peak Performance is an important decision no matter what sport you call your own. We asked the roundtable at St. Thomas Aquinas what they tell students contemplating transforming into a student-athlete. Especially those sitting on the fence and wondering whether or not it’s a program in which they’d thrive.
This is the third and final instalment of our roundtable discussion with the gang at STA.
Chris: One of the first thing I recommend to the fence-sitters is to talk to other families that have students who were involved in the program to find out what impact it had on them and how their families managed it. I think the more knowledge you have going into it, it makes for a better decision. And to others I would say just try it for a year. It doesn’t mean you have to do it for ten years , try to do it and see how it works. And if it works, continue until it doesn’t. Any problems or hiccups, you can always refocus but if you participate or do something else you still have your hockey.
John: You have to be committed but then once you’re in something as Chris says it may not be what you’re looking for. And so you have to make those adjustments with the family because sometimes young fellows get started in grade 8 and just like me when I was playing basketball I thought I was going to grow another foot. People slow down at different ages. Some kids will change because they’re not getting bigger, they’re playing against bigger players and they’re getting pounded and so they’ve got to decide on the future. It’s a one-year commitment and then you evaluate. The parents with the coaches ask “is this really what I want”. And that’s all part of growing up.
Cheryl: And that’s what I feel when we made the decision with Ryan. It was Ryan’s choice to do this and we’re supporting him. It’s his choice to have the commitment and dedication to keep up his grades, number one, and to be dedicated with his hockey program. He really wants to do it and that’s the key thing. For now. And that’s what we can do for now.
Clint: It’s important for families to educate themselves on their program of choice, no matter what their sport is. I see a lot of people coming up through hockey that just say here’s an opportunity for me to practice my hockey, do more hockey. And I think there’s got to be a lot around it, a combination of academics and hockey. We work with players at a fairly high level and even this year we’ve got one gentleman on our team, his whole hockey path was to go to an NCAA school or play junior hockey and now he’s going to Queen’s on an engineering scholarship.
And that’s a big change to his life path all of a sudden. So I think it’s important that families understand, that this is not just a hockey program, that it’s better for the student to focus more on his or her academics and have more time to rest so they don’t suffer from burnout. It’s a complete package, not just an opportunity to leave school early and go to the hockey rink.
Kelvin: Chris, Meg, John, thanks so much for your time. You guys have been nice and gracious answering our questions, do you guys have anything you want to know? From our standpoint, about the North Shore Winter Club?
Meg: The Peak program itself, is it 20 hours a week or 15 hours a week?
Kelvin: Clint, you can answer that.
Clint: It’s pretty close to 20 hours each week with Peak and your team included. Peak Performance itself is an hour and a half four times a week. It’s a pretty intense schedule that they go through especially once they enter bantam. Actually, any level at North Shore Winter Club, that’s the nice thing about the North Shore Winter Club is whether you’re playing on a house team or you’re playing at the elite level, your ice times are generally the same for the most part, you still get your practices and your two games each week even if you’re playing house hockey. Our A1 team gets three or four practices each week. Just with the minor hockey team, then our two skill sessions on ice, plus our two dryland sessions plus their games. Plus a lot of them do private training as well.
That’s … a lot of hockey. No wonder our teenagers are getting more and more tired every year. The problem is that when young athletes pile more activity on, something gets sacrificed, like family or schoolwork or nutrition or rest. Peak Performance programs - and believe me, not just the ones at NSWC - are offering an outlet for that activity, an answer to the mid-afternoon wall we all seem to hit.
But again, it’s not for everyone. It’s important to ask some tough questions before you jump in with both feet.
Once you do, though, hang on and enjoy the ride.