California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey introduces new hockey training virtual platform, looks to be part of game’s future



Like most people in any line of work, even hockey, Ben Frank scrambled to adjust to the COVID-19 regulations and restrictions last spring as the pandemic gripped the world.

The president of the Jr. Reign, a USA Hockey Model Association operating out of LA Kings Icetown Riverside and Carlsbad Icetown, Frank didn’t miss a beat, utilizing his background in the game and his colleagues to introduce the wave of the future –

“When COVID happened, I think it took everyone by shock with all the rinks closing,” said Joyce Frank, VP of athlete success. “We were just finishing up our exit meetings with the players and going over what their goals were for the next season’s tryouts, things like that. Then all the rinks got shut down and no one knew how long it was going to be.”

Frank said that when many families and players contacted him to ask what the plans were for 2020-21, he took it upon himself to give them an answer rather than be silent.

“We started seeing a lot going online in other sports, like boxing coaches, fitness coaches, even some basketball going with virtual training,” Frank said. “We wanted to take that a step further and see what we could provide. At first, it was a necessity for our players and families to give them offseason activities when the rinks were closed. What we learned as we dove full-on into it was that we could do so much virtually. We saw that this could be something long-term for our Jr. Reign club and even much bigger than that. There is so much efficiency when you can document all the skills, like stickhandling and shooting. You can do a lot of conditioning stuff, even hockey IQ training.

“When we saw how efficient this was, we thought this would help kids even more once they got back on the ice.”

lhtcomWith much of 2020 going online with school and work, Frank said the virtual hockey training was something that players and families could easily adapt to, and that it would be sustainable even when things get back to a sense of normalcy.

“This has made the development of our club better than ever,” said Frank. “We can now focus on things multiple times a week and spend more time on some of the intricacies of the game that maybe we don’t spend enough time on during regular team practices.”

Frank noted that as word got out about the site, he started getting players and families from places such as Oregon, Arizona and Canada registering. That was when the took shape.

“This has really increased our accountability and how to deliver the whole experience,” said Frank. “There are live classes every week with all types of different focuses, including mental performance and mentoring classes where I interview ex-college coaches and performance coaches. Players can come on live and ask questions, too.”

New registrations get a free two-week trial. Monthly memberships after that are $49 per family, with unlimited access to everything offers. Past classes are archived and able to be viewed by members.

“As we continue to get feedback, we will continue to modify the site and the platforms,” said Paul Esdale, chief of hockey operations. “We’ve had a couple hundred players from our club join since April and it’s evolved a lot since then. We’ve also had people that somehow found us and have given us feedback. All the feedback has been very positive.

“Our biggest mission is we want players to pursue their highest dreams. We want them to have the opportunity to pursue that. With hockey, players that practice 2-3 times a week that have big dreams, that’s not enough. A lot of players, and it’s not just now with rinks closing, but they can’t always get to the rink 6-7 days a week or afford all the extra ice time. What’s required is more than 3-4 hours of training a week. We want to provide that opportunity and guidance for any player anywhere. We want them to be as good as they want to be. The players still have to put the work in, but they can put in an extra 10 hours a week if they want at home in their garage for really not much extra cost. Over time, that extra training can make a dramatic difference.”

Frank said that the online training will supplement the on-ice training once rinks get back to normal operations.

“This originally started out of necessity, but it’s not just for these times,” said Frank. “It’s actually the future and understand, it won’t replace your team practices or games, but it’s more for the things you don’t spend enough time on during team practices and can work on them on your own time around school and everything else.

“You can now do all that from home.”

— Matt Mackinder

(Jan. 22, 2021)

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