By Justin Seward
Both Bow Island and Foremost’s arenas hosted Willie Desjardins South Alberta Hockey Academy open houses on Saturday.
Players from Bow Island in Grades 3-11 participated in one of the two one-hour afternoon sessions with SAHA coaches Brayden Desjardins, Josh Maser and Foremost/Bow Island’s new coach Jay Merkley.
Participants got a feel for the level of coaching and programs the Hockey Academy has to offer.
The plan in Bow Island is to move forward with starting an academy at Senator Gershaw and Bow Island Elementary schools next season, pending numbers at the open house.
“If we get a dozen then we can run our standalone Academy in Bow Island,” said Darren MacMillan, Hockey Academy programs coordinator.
If there are only a few players that show then the Academy will ask those interested players to join Foremost.
“If it’s a one or two people kind of thing then what we’ll do is we’ll say ‘OK, the principal will try to mesh up their schedules so that those can drive down to Foremost and join that Academy.’” If the Bow Island open house garners upwards of a half a dozen kids, then the Hockey Academy will provide transportation to Foremost, added MacMillan.
Senator Gershaw principal Scott Angle, Prairie Rose Public Schools representatives and MacMillan have been in talks about adding Bow Island to the Academy for a while.
“I think we’ve got to the point where we’re seeing so much success in other locations, where it’s like instead of waiting for enough interest of people, it’s almost like going back to the Field of Dreams philosophy, ‘If we build it, they will come,’ ” said MacMillan.
Angle said, “We have discussed bringing the hockey academy to Bow Island since its inception with Prairie Rose.”
“When we had the discussion within the school with our students, we discussed a smaller amount of grades (7-12) where now we are looking at a larger range of grades (4-12). The benefit for Senator Gershaw School is that it may provide a program that hockey players are excited about and provide a high-quality hockey experience within a regularly scheduled school day.”
Bow Island players must be enrolled at Senator Gershaw or Bow Island Elementary to participate in the Academy.
The day began with two morning sessions in Foremost for those student that are going into Grades 4 to 12 next year.
The open house also gave MacMillan a chance to answers questions off the ice.