Tahoe Prep secures school’s first NCAA college commitments
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The overriding and long-term goal at Tahoe Prep Academy has always been about one thing and one thing only – preparing its student athletes to take the next steps in their lives after high school.
For some, that means playing junior hockey, and for others, it means continuing their hockey careers in college.
Even if the academy’s student-athletes enroll in college but choose not to continue playing hockey, the coaches and administrators know they have paved the way for those that have come through their doors to become productive adults.
As their motto goes, student-athletes come to Tahoe as boys and leave as men.
There is a tremendous amount of pride permeating the campus this spring as Tahoe Prep has produced its first college hockey players since opening its doors in 2016. Forward Shane Gilbert has committed to play NCAA Division III hockey at SUNY-Fredonia in New York, and forward Erik Larsson (pictured) has signed to play at Salem State University, a Division III school in Massachusetts.
In addition, a handful of players from Tahoe Prep have been accepted to various colleges and may continue their hockey careers once they decide on a school.
Matt Ward has been accepted to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Alex Boyko has received an acceptance letter from Arizona State University. Quinn Proctor is choosing between Arizona State University, Chico State University and Sacramento State University, and has been accepted by all three.
Many of Tahoe Prep’s top players are also in the midst of attending prospect camps for the various junior leagues across the U.S. and Canada, as the timeline for junior commitments generally falls a few months after college commitments.
“This is what it’s all about,” Tahoe Prep president Leo Fenn said. “This is why they skate every day and do their strength and conditioning every day, to have these types of opportunities. I think it really inspires the current students at Tahoe Prep when they see guys who have come through our doors finding success as the next levels.
“To have our first players commit to play in college, we’re so excited and can’t wait to see them on the ice playing NCAA hockey. We’re incredibly proud of the boys and their families and the work they have put in to get to this point.”
Gilbert played two seasons for the Ogden Mustangs in the Western States Hockey League after passing through Tahoe Prep, a key step in his development.
“Shane is another guy who is just obsessed with his craft – everything he has become is because he has worked for it,” said Chris Collins, Tahoe’s prep head coach and director of skill development. “The best thing about Shane is who he has become as a person.”
Collins recalled a time when Gilbert reached out to a new recruit who was unsure about coming to Tahoe to reassure him and welcome him to the campus, without any prompting from coaches.
“That shows his character, at 17 years old, to go out of his way for someone else,” Collins said. “Adding that to the fact that he’s great at hockey and is a really good leader, that just impresses you. Shane is a great teammate.”
Larsson was part of the first class of student-athletes at Tahoe Prep when the academy opened four years ago. His time in Tahoe propelled him to three seasons with the Boston Jr. Bandits in the United States Premier Hockey League.
“Erik’s passion for the game is phenomenal,” Fenn said. “His desire to compete is off the charts. From the first time I saw him on the ice, I felt like he was going to go somewhere and that he would have a chance to play college hockey.”
Even after Larsson left Tahoe, he returned each summer to train with his former coaches.
“As we say, once you’ve worn the Tahoe jersey, you’re part of the brotherhood for life,” Fenn said.
Photo/Tahoe Prep Academy
— Greg Ball
(April 16, 2020)