Brandon, Manitoba will soon be the home of the brand new Western Canada Hockey Academy. After many years of conversation surrounding a new arena within the province’s second-largest city, construction is officially underway on a state of the art facility situated in the southwestern-most quadrant of Brandon, near the Brookwood Estates development on 34th Street south.
Featuring an NHL sized ice surface home to 350-500 spectators, an athlete performance centre hosting on-ice video training, a six-lane, 100-metre track, a basketball court, a school classroom, a fitness centre and three shooting bays (two shooting bays, one goaltender bay) for one-on-one and group training, the project led by Jared Jacobson of the J & G Group of Companies will host the newly-shaped Western Canada Hockey Academy.
The WCHA Wolves will skate this spring out of the city’s Sportsplex, before shifting over to the new facility following its completion late this fall.
Jacobson – who purchased the WHL’s Wheat Kings from Kelly McCrimmon this past September – says the WCHA will operate in conjunction with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings as well as the U-15 and U-18 Wheat Kings AAA programs. This one-of-a-kind learning/training centre will serve as an opportunity for local Brandonites and nearby out-of-towners to remain in the city while attending school and training ‘hockey academy-style’ in the Wheat City.
Although belonging to the hockey academy, players will not be playing games with the club, but rather enjoy their education and on/off-ice training with the program, while remaining as players within their local community club teams. Education will come first at WCHA, with hockey bringing up the rear as a “close-second”.
Labelled as a ‘hybrid’ academy, the WCHA will target students from Grade 5 through Grade 12. There will be split classrooms for Grades 5/6 and 7/8, with students learning math, English language arts, social studies and science, following the Manitoba Department of Education curriculum, ensuring all students receive appropriate teachings. High school aged players will continue with their education at their current Brandon-area high school.
— WCHA Hockey (@lewisdaveTHF) March 17, 2021
Led by local teachers Glenda Zelmer and Lesley Taggart, student-athletes joining the WCHA will certainly be in good hands. With class sizes set to feature a maximum of 12 students, one-on-one teaching will become a daily experience for most attendees. All athletes will receive upwards of 400 hours of skill-based training over the duration of one calendar year, while giving the players the opportunity to continue playing with their minor hockey teams.
Camps will be offered from U-9 through the professional level for both male and female participants. Facilitating the charge will be Dave Lewis (Director of Player Development) and Craig Anderson (Director of Hockey Operations), while on-ice programming will be conducted at the highest of levels, with Wheat Kings’ assistant coaches Mark Derlago and Dan Johnston serving as on-ice instructors.
With a focus on the development of local players, the WCHA will look to target increased mobility and speed in its athletes, while teaching speed, shot power and mental aptitude year-round. The J & G Group of Companies expects full operation by the winter season of 2021-22.