California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Tahoe Hockey Academy gaining steam toward late summer opening


It’s been years in the making, and now it’s down to the final weeks.

Later this month, the Tahoe Hockey Academy will officially open its doors for the first time, and the group of men behind organizing California’s first hockey boarding school couldn’t be more ready.

The excitement is palpable in Tahoe, and the momentum is contagious.

“This started out as an idea, but we’ve learned that this boarding school model resonates with so many different families,” said Leo Fenn, the academy’s president. “To hear story after story about the sacrifices families make to keep their children in hockey and school only reinforces our belief that this is a sound solution. After only a few conversations, we’ve realized this isn’t a localized problem. We’ve heard from parents from the East Coast, Midwest and even Canada about the concern for juggling high-end athletics and academics, and doing so all at an affordable price. We’re proud to have that philosophy be the foundation behind Tahoe Hockey Academy.”

Fenn, athletic director Mike Lewis, head coach J.J. James and the rest of the Tahoe Hockey Academy team have been working tirelessly to get all the elements in place for the academy not only to be successful in its first year, but to build the foundation to do so many years into the future. Countless hours have been spent designing the academic and housing facilities, planning the team’s on-ice and off-ice training schedule, developing relationships with the local community and more.

Lewis, a veteran Orange County youth hockey coach, said the approach is to find those families who believe that there’s a benefit for what the academy has to offer.

“We’re extremely blessed to have the support of our board of directors, which can offer financial support to so many of our families,” Lewis said. “Hockey can be extremely restrictive financially, and to know that a player can now achieve the academic and athletic development necessary to achieve their goals is life changing. This offers a viable way for so many families to break the cycle of paying money to sit in traffic or be out of the classroom.”

The task of starting an academy from the ground up has seemed overwhelming at times, but the team behind the effort has continued pushing forward and has methodically taken each step as it has come. Because the group spent so much time conceptualizing and planning the academy, it was in good position to act on its plans when the time came. It has also helped that the team assembled to lead the effort has a wide variety of experience not only in the hockey and academic worlds, but the financial and business spaces as well.

As the excitement grows, so does the anticipation for the players already selected to be a part of the unique opportunity to study and play at the Tahoe Hockey Academy.

“Our players are chomping at the bit to get started,” James said. “It obviously takes a lot of effort and energy to get all those things done, but we want to do this right from Day 1. From the locker rooms to our team bus to our on-ice learning and our approach, we want this to be a world-class experience for our players.”

It won’t be long before Tahoe Hockey Academy makes its way to Southern California to compete in its first game in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League. If the team on the ice is anything like those behind this endeavor, the future would seem bright for the players who call the academy home.

– Greg Ball

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