Sports school/academy getting a closer look 

After a preliminary meeting with stakeholders in December the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific for Whistler is hosting another meeting in the next few weeks to discuss the future of the school sports program in Whistler, and the possibility of launching a sports academy through the athletes' accommodation at Cheakamus Crossing.

Whistler Secondary already offers a flexible program for student athletes, but the CSC is looking to improve on it by working with stakeholders. The athletes housing also creates the opportunity to draw athletes to Whistler from across B.C. and Canada to attend high school while training and competing.

"Through 2010 Legacies Now the province is starting explore having a more coordinated approach to sports schools," explained Lucinda Jagger, manager of the CSC Pacific high performance centre in Whistler.

"There are currently 107 sports schools within the public system in B.C., and right now it's not very well coordinated - Whistler being one of those communities with a loose sports school program that's been relatively effective."

Getting the sports schools on the same page will require some work on behalf of the school, the CSC, sports organizations and other stakeholders, Jagger says. For example, some schools only offer places on a tryout basis, while others will take any students. Some specialize only in one sport, while others specialize in many.

And the degree to which those programs are affiliated with sports at the national level can be very different. For example, Hockey Canada has very detailed expectations regarding Canadian Hockey Skill Academies, which is why there are less than 80 approved academies across Canada.

The CSC Pacific has already done some research on sports academies across Canada and internationally, much of which was shared with stakeholders in December. The next meeting will result in some concrete action items, says Jagger. And if proponents can agree on the details then a revamped school/academy program could be available as early as September 2010. The sports school at Whistler will continue as usual in the meantime.

There is still some discussion as to what sports will be included. The group is already working with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, Whistler Valley Snowboard Club and Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club, as well as a grass roots luge program.

"Definitely those sports in the first phase, but ideally we'd also like to see gymnastics, cross-country cycling, sliding sports, Nordic skiing - but the way it could be structured could be for any sport," said Jagger.

"Whistler Secondary is already doing a lot of this, but we're really in the process of formalizing things, working with the sports to drill down into what they need to make this effective for them and then providing support to make that happen working with the high school - support like accommodation or training schedules for various sports."

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 20, but the date may change.

For more information on the program contact Lucinda Jagger at ljagger@cscpacific.ca.

 

 

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