New Optimum Hockey Academy open for business in Irvine
As it would be for any parents, finding the proper school fit for their kids was of paramount importance to the Troubh family.
That the school includes elite-level hockey training was icing on the cake.
When Optimum Hockey Academy in Irvine opened its doors in September, Ken Troubh thought it was an environment in which his son, Max, could thrive on multiple levels.
“It’s been a good fit,” Troubh said. “Max loves hockey, and the school is good. They identify where you may have some holes academically early on and work with the children and the parents to fill in the gaps.
“Optimum’s theory with hockey is the same. They work on skill areas that need it. It’s been a good supplement to Max’s team.”
Alex Kim and Craig Johnson began conceiving the idea for Optimum more than three years ago, Kim said. The tipping point for moving ahead was the opening of The Rinks’ Great Park ICE facility.
“Craig and I had been talking about the hockey landscape around the United States for a while,” said Kim, the school’s director of hockey operations. “There was no facility to launch an academy at until now. We wanted to make sure we had a platform to grow the game and help young athletes play the sport while getting a strong education.”
Optimum works in conjunction with Epic Charter School, which specializes in customizing education plans to fit students’ individual needs.
Optimum launched with 25 students, ranging from Max’s fourth-grade cohort through eighth grade. Epic brings in teachers each day who specialize in a variety of subjects. Kim envisions the academy becoming an option for players in grades 4-12 whose goal is to play college hockey.
“We wanted an environment to enrich the learning experience on the ice and in the classroom,” said Kim. “Character building is a huge component, as is community service. It’s all-inclusive.”
The Troubhs – and most California hockey families – know all too well that navigating travel to games, tournaments and weekly skill sessions on top of school and club practices can require Herculean efforts and sacrifices. Optimum, which convenes Monday through Thursday, afforded the Troubhs some relief on that front.
“Between our sons playing for two different clubs and the amount of travel we have to do for hockey, this allows Max not to miss too much school,” Ken Troubh said. “This has been a good situation. We live near the Great Park, Max is growing academically, and he’s getting plenty of skill development work to supplement what he gets from his team.”
And that is the other part of Optimum where students gain a massive advantage. Johnson and Kim, both decorated NCAA players in their day, bring more than 25 years combined of professional playing experience and nearly two decades combined of coaching experience. Under their leadership, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks have had 21 players make Division I college commitments and seen dozens more play junior and ACHA and Division III college hockey.
“The academy focuses on individual skill development,” Kim said. “We are trying to best develop each individual’s skill set. It is open to players from all clubs.
“Just as the students have individualized curriculum in the classroom, they receive that on the ice. Craig and I understand that individual skill development is of the utmost importance, especially at younger ages.”
In addition to Kim and Johnson, Optimum features a deep roster of skill development coaches, including former NHLers Jeff Friesen and Laddy Kohn and numerous other respected former pro and college players, including Jean Labbe, Taylor Love, Craig Lyons and Sasha Voloshin. Labbe is the academy’s director of player personnel.
The academy also partners with nationally recognized strength and performance consultant Scot Prohaska, owner of the Pro Code training facility inside Great Park ICE.
Photos/Optimum Hockey Academy
— Chris Bayee
(Nov. 5, 2019)