On-and-off ice learning comes back for a second year for Lakeland Catholic students.
After a successful 2019-2020 season the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs have signed with Lakeland Catholic School Division for a second year in a row to provide hockey programs to Bonnyville high school students, and now even more kids will be hitting the ice.
École Dr. Bernard Brosseau School will take part in the program thanks to a deal signed this past Friday, which will provide lessons for junior high students.
Last year, the LCSD inked a deal with hockey clubs that would see students from Assumption Jr/Sr High and École Notre Dame High School training with personnel from the Cold Lake Jr. B Ice and the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs, respectively.
That saw students receiving on-ice instruction alongside developing athletic leadership.
“We’re tremendously excited to add Dr. Brosseau. At the junior high level, we just think it’s a great alternative for students,” said Pontiacs general manager and head coach Rick Swan.
“It allows us to be able to attach ourselves and create that relationship, not only with the community, but especially the Lakeland Catholic school board, and we felt that last year was was a great opportunity not only to offer that alternative with on-ice skills, but our off-ice skills and character life skills program that we’re anxious to continue on with this year.”
The program will be offered at separate times to ÉNDHS students in Grades 9 to 12, and 7 and 8 for Dr. Brosseau. It’s described as aiming to keep high schoolers in their home community while preparing them for a potential athletic scholarship.
Notre Dame principal Vince Spila has said he’s looking forward to the benefits the program will provide students beyond hockey.
“Of course, students are going to receive some quality coaching with Rick Swan, but they’re also going to get work done on character and skill development, as well as work in the motivational world, things like goal setting and life other life skills,” said Spila.
“It also helps kids build that community relation that maybe they don’t otherwise have the opportunity for. It helps them understand that the community and the school are one rather than two separate places. So it’s a cool place for them to be able to learn how to be mentors in not just in hockey, but in their schools.”
In terms of things going back to normal in the wake of COVID-19 cases reappearing in the Lakeland, Swan says he hopes a place on the ice will provide youngsters a safe environment.
“I think once you’re on the ice, it becomes that sense of normalcy. Lakeland Catholic school board their mandate, just like the Bonnyville Pontiacs is to provide a safe environment where kids can have fun, and they can learn skills, but on the ice, it becomes a sense of normalcy just because of the spatial awareness that we have.
“Maybe some of the news hasn’t been so positive, but once you get on the ice, it becomes normal and back to what it always was.”
Each school’s program is set to begin in September of this year with students participating in one or two session a week with the Pontiacs at the Centennial Centre.
It’s open to both male and female students, and is operating on first come first serve basis, and more information will come in the future.