The Sports School hockey program at Selkirk Secondary recently wrapped for its 20th year.
And this was no ordinary year, says Carson Loftsgard teacher/coach from the Selkirk Sports School, due to unprecedented conditions due to the pandemic.
“The main challenge was that the athletes were never able to make it to the Civic Centre ice surface for the elite skill development that they would normally participate in twice each week. We had to adapt our program to be in line with what the restrictions allowed, which specifically meant that we focused on off-ice physical and mental development. The athletes were pushed to work hard in the weight room as well as the classroom. Physically our goals were around developing training habits that would improve their ability to perform on the ice which focused on building strength, explosiveness, speed, and flexibility.”
Sports School also attended to the athletes’ mental development, leadership, and goal setting habits by connecting virtually with national level mental performance coach, Barry Medori, as well as Sports School founder Jerry Bancks, and alumni Carter Bancks, Caige Sterzer, Matt Wilkins, Jared Marchi, and Brendan Paterson. “Being able to access our network of coaches and athletes was an amazing resource to have through COVID. They generously shared their expertise and experiences with the students making for a very robust character education program that benefited them as athletes, but more importantly, as people.”
Despite the challenging conditions, the program maintained the high expectations that make up the identity of the program, with Loftsgard holding himself to the same standard as the students. “Over the last year I have been working towards certification as a Hockey Canada Skills Coach, which is very demanding but worth it because it allows me to offer the players the most current instruction and feedback. Our game is evolving so the methods and content need to keep up. There are no other certified skill coaches between Calgary and Kelowna that I am aware of so this really sets our program apart.”
Each year the Sports School program recognizes student athletes for their efforts based on the core values of the program. The Jerry Bancks Award goes to the student athlete who ‘works to achieve excellence in their academic and athletic lives while being a positive influence and presence in their community.’ Leith Olafson was the recipient of the award this year.
“Leith is what I would call an every-dayer. He relentlessly pushes himself to reach his potential at every opportunity and is an outstanding role model for others in our community. This was to be Leith’s second year with the Dynamiters and while the season didn’t progress as planned, his effort and commitment never waned.” said Loftsgard.
Also receiving awards were Kasey Miller for leadership, Wyatt Stewart for community-mindedness, and Ethan Reid for development.
“I’m proud of each and every Sports School student for their perseverance, positivity, and effort through a very challenging semester,” said Loftsgard. “Hopefully we can continue to develop our homegrown athletes under more normal conditions next year.”