Aldergrove, British Columbia
“My name is Matthew Keith and I attended the Banff Hockey Academy in the 1998-1999-hockey season, a season that I came away with a lot more than I could have ever imagined.
After I left BHA I went on to play 4 seasons in the Western Hockey League and get drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2nd round of the 2001 NHL Draft. I am currently in my first season of Professional hockey with Chicago’s top minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League.
I can honestly say that I don’t think I could have accomplished what I have in the short time since I was a member of the Academy, if it weren’t for the help of the staff and friends I got to know while I was there. Not only was BHA the perfect setting for a young inexperienced man on and off the ice, it was a place where I made lifelong friendships and learned the keys to being a successful person in whatever path I chose.
Going to Banff at such a young age was the hardest thing I had to do. It was the point in my career where I had to commit myself to a program that only expects all you can give. Day in and day out I was pushed to be the best I could be, and to me, that is the only way you can succeed.
I went to the BHA for one thing...hockey, but I left Banff with so much more. I am proud to say I was and still am a BHA Icemen.”
“My name is Taka Hoshino and I attended The Banff Hockey Academy from the time it was established in the town of Banff to 2003. The Banff Hockey Academy has played a great deal in turning me into the person I am today. The Banff Hockey Academy taught me many important life lessons, on the ice, and in and out of the classroom. Teamwork, hard work, discipline, the list is endless.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that I have enjoyed playing hockey everywhere I was. I mean, as a young child, I enjoyed everything about hockey. Being with my family and friends was the thing I remember most. I am also appreciative that through minor hockey, the sport gave me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family. My parents and my brother were there every step of the way for me. They were there through the late night practices during the week and the long drives on weekends to games through the darkness of the night in freezing temperature.
But as I got older, things began to change. All of sudden, the close friends that I enjoyed playing with so much somehow turned into my competition. “AAA”, “AA”, “A” and “B” hockey became the main focus for us and the “fun” part diminished. I remember trying out for countless teams from the time I was 14, all the way up to when I was 20. There is no doubt that I was improving every year, but I was just playing for all the wrong reasons. The big thing when I turned 17 was the so-called Junior “A”. This is level where all the best teenage hockey players play. I remember thinking to myself, “If you don’t play Junior “A” hockey, you weren’t going to be a successful hockey player.” And as far back as I can remember, my dream was to make a career out of hockey. So I figured, as a 17 year old, Junior “A” was a must. I traveled countless miles, all over Western Canada, but never found myself on a Junior “A” team feeling secure. I was never happy, and time after time, coaches would tell me that my size was an issue. No team actually showed complete interest in me, so I began to believe what I was hearing. I was too small and I was too weak. At the age of 18, I had second doubts about hockey. All of my friends were playing Junior “A” yet I was still to make a team.
Although discouraged, I continued to play for the fun of the game and follow my dream. I continued playing with The Banff Hockey Academy. And during the trip to Boston in November of 2002, I was recruited to Sacred Heart University. A Division I program in Atlantic Hockey.
I feel fortunate that I was part of the Banff Hockey Academy in that it has prepared me for where I am today. At college, you continuously balance your time between school, hockey, and a social life. The Banff Community High School trained me to manage my time and work hard in my studies. The Banff Hockey Academy taught me all of tactical aspects of game which allow me to understand new plays and concepts on the ice. And being an Icemen allowed me to make new and unique friendships with people from all around the world. These are all of the things that I do day to day at college.
Vancouver, British Columbia
“My name is Clint Hazen. My tenure at the Banff Hockey Academy was one of holistic experience and growth. I went there for the hockey, and came away with a life experience. I will remember my time at the BHA for the rest of my life, and its impact on me as a person is felt every passing day.
On the ice, I went to Banff as a suitcase junior goalie. I was 19 and had played for almost every junior team this side of Argentina. I had played Junior A as a 16 and 17 year old, so I figured I just needed to work a little harder to get some breaks. As I look back, I realize I knew absolutely nothing about goaltending. I had been playing in goal, but I definitely wasn’t a goaltender. Coach Billy Doherty taught me about fundamentals of goaltending. I actually learned what good positioning actually meant, I learned how to skate, and I learned how to be a goalie, good days and bad.
I now play at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Last season, as a freshman, I started 27 of 31 games. At the end of the season, I was honoured to be named All-Conference Goalie in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association. I was also named All-Rookie Goaltender in American Collegiate Hockey. The basic elements of goaltending I learned while I was at the BHA were the biggest reason for my successes.
Off the ice, and more importantly, I was helped to grow as a person. Billy Doherty was not just a hockey coach, but also a mentor. He spent a great deal of time dealing with us as people, as maturing young men. Coaches elsewhere are more concerned with the bottom line of wins and losses; Billy cared about us as individuals. As much as I owe to Billy for my on-ice improvements, I thank him much more for what he taught me about being a confident and genuine person.
Each year, I have the privilege of seeing my BHA team-mates and coaches at the summer hockey camps. It is a truly wonderful to see how they have changed, to hear of what they have been doing and to recount memories of our time at the BHA.
Parent of Evan Affleck
“My name is Mark Affleck and I am writing you today regarding the Banff Hockey Academy and Director Billy Doherty. I consider it a privilege to provide this information because of the immense impact BHA had on my son Evan, now 20 and a freshman at the University of Alaska, Anchorage (UAA). After attending the BHA in 2000 as a high school junior, Evan moved on to prep schools in the East for his Senior and Post Graduate years where he excelled at Ice Hockey. He is currently a prospect for the UAA Sea Wolves Varsity Ice Hockey Team.
As Evan moves through life and his hockey career, indeed as each year passes, BHA’s strong imprint on his life gains resolution and clarity. I look back with deep gratitude for these positives Evan gained during his stay at BHA:
- HOCKEY: The hockey instruction and coaching were professional, organized and growth-oriented. Everything Billy does is built around positive reinforcement and confidence. He builds hockey players. He builds character. He builds young men.
- COMMUNITY: The lifestyle and sense of community were positive...the friendships magical...the connection lasting.
- ACADEMICS: BHA’s academic training was very effective as I can see now in Evan’s quick adaptation to the rigors of college academics. He is already doing great at UAA (even loving his classes!), no doubt an outgrowth of his time in Banff where he learned how to discipline himself and adapt to a “college style” learning system.
In closing, I can say proudly and without hesitation that the BHA and Billy Doherty infused strong character in my son...a young man searching in a confusing world for an identity and positive pathway in life. Yes, the BHA imprint on my son Evan will be with him forever.
There are many places young boys can go to play hockey. But there are very few where young boys can go to find their character...discover their gifts...and dream their dreams.
And in that regard, BHA tops the list.
My very best to you,
President/CEO, California Avocado Commission”
“When I left home I was unsure of what I was getting myself in to, I was moving nearly 2500 miles away, I didn’t know anyone, and I was merely 15 years old. I was terrified at first, however I soon found out attending the Academy was the best decision I’ve ever made. The Academy exposed me to an elite level of hockey, an amazing school, and developed friendships that will last a lifetime.
I can still remember the first day I arrived, we had an icebreaker, again not knowing anyone I was pretty scared. However, the veteran players quickly made me feel like I was one of them, I was part of the team, I now had friends in town, and that homesickness quickly went away. The living accommodations were definitely one of the most fun aspects of living away from home, put an entire hockey team in a fraternity style house, and you’re bound to have a great time. Yes, there was that good old parental supervision, rules, etc. however, living with the guys on the team I quickly made several friends, the bonds we developed were unbelievable.
Attending the Academy for three years meant I spent my entire high school career there. While many people asked why I didn’t want to graduate at home with my friends, I told them “I was at home, I’m with my friends.” Banff Community High School is an aspect of the Academy that’s truly remarkable; it’s a school completely different from any other I’ve attended. Being such a small school, for my standards anyway, I quickly became friends with many “locals” as they too embraced me as one of their own; I wasn’t seen as an outsider. As for the education part, BCHS is an independent studies program, which I initially found to be fairly difficult, for instance not knowing what each teacher expects and how to keep a steady pace with all my subjects. However, I quickly found out that the teachers at BCHS are one of a kind, they are always available to consult on assignments, or just talk about how their day was, today, I still keep in touch with many of my old teachers.
Not only was I blessed with great friends and an amazing school, I (and I feel I can speak for everyone who has attended the BHA) had a hockey experience that is second to none. At home I would only have maybe two practices a week then a game or two on the weekends, so when I arrived in Banff I was shocked at the ice time I was given. The BHA has practices everyday as well as games on the weekends; in a month I skated more often than all my friends had all year back home. Bill Doherty, also, is one of the best coaches I have ever had, he knows hockey, and during my time in Banff I saw him take players who had only spent a few years playing ice hockey and transformed them into Junior “A” caliber athletes, me being one of them. At home, I was one of the better players in town, but I quickly realized that there are a lot of good hockey players in the world.
As I stated earlier, I spent a total of three years attending the Academy and have greatly benefited. I graduated with honors and had several Junior “A” scouts recruiting me to play for their teams. Currently, I am playing Junior A in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and much of my accomplishments can be attributed to the Banff Hockey Academy. I greatly matured while there, and I now have the ability to push myself to be my best, the discipline to balance both hockey and my correspondence school work, and thanks to that several Division 1 and Division 3 universities are currently scouting me. Now, whatever I choose to do from here, I know my time in Banff will continue to influence me in one way or another.”
“As I made my way from the coaches office, I grabbed my bag and for the last time I left the hockey rink. There was an empty feeling inside me. I had wanted to play Junior “A” since I was fifteen and heading into my 19-year-old year had yet to make it. I had been a decent student throughout high school; obtaining a 75% overall average and I had been a good player all through high school”, however my size and strength had prevented me from making jump to the Junior “A” level. So as I left the rink after the final cuts, I realized that this might have been my last competitive game of hockey. I did not want to play Junior “B” due to the fact that they only practiced 2-3 times a week and the commitment level was not what I wanted for my hockey experience.
I knew that in order to do what was necessary to get to the next level I was going to have make sacrifices not only personally but financially. There was a lot expected of me. As a 19 year old I was expected to take the younger players and help them develop. I was expected to take classes study for SAT and work part time. I was expected to be on the ice every morning for a 1-hour and ½ practice and another 1-hour and 1/2 off ice training.
All this sacrifice eventually paid off. I ended up signing with the Langley Hornets in December of that year and playing the last half of the season with them. I then got traded to Fernie the next season and I will be playing at Concordia University in the CIS this coming September 2003.
The Banff Hockey Academy gave me an opportunity that no other team would. An opportunity to be a leader, understand personal sacrifice and sacrifice for a team. I had the opportunity to be involved in a great community and had people around me that would not let me fail as long as I had a good attitude.
There is a quote that says “I would rather have heart than talent any day.” Well that would be me and if you are in the same boat I was in a few years ago. Passionate about the game and believe that you can play at the next level then I encourage you to involve yourself in the Banff Hockey Academy. It will be experiences that will shape the kind of person you are and help you establish work habits that will not only help you as a hockey player but also help you in life.”
Mark S. Rogers
Parent of Casey Rogers
“My son Casey Rogers is in his second year at the Banff Hockey Academy, and I cannot say enough about the program that BHA offers. It was a big decision for Casey to leave home at 16 years old to pursue both a better education and a more challenging level of hockey (in preparation for college). Adam Culligan approached us about Casey attending the BHA (after seeing him at the Global Scouting Camp). When we returned home from the camp, we spoke with one of Casey’s coaches Buddy McKinnon about the BHA, and it turned out that he has known Billy Doherty for many years, and told us that Billy was a great teacher, and that Casey couldn’t learn from anyone better. He also said that he knew several local players from Southern California who attended the BHA, and that their time there prepared them for both college and that next level of hockey. We spoke with several of those local players about their experience at the BHA, and heard comments like “a lot of hard work (both athletically and academically)”, “a very intense program that helped me prepare for junior hockey.” They also told us that some of their closest friendships were made at the BHA.
Casey and I went to Banff to visit the Academy (one of the most beautiful places in the world), and met with both Billy and Adam, who explained the program in detail (the intense schedules, responsibilities and expectations of each student). It was a big decision to send our son away to school (no less in another country), but upon lengthy family discussion, we came to a unanimous decision, and Casey made the commitment to attend the BHA his junior year. And now looking back, we feel it was one of the best decisions we have made regarding Casey’s academic and athletic future
The schedule doesn’t leave a lot of free time, between school, homework, practices, doing chores, helping in the community, and then there’s all of the traveling and hockey games. The level of hockey is both challenging and intense. I believe that this program and its staff will truly help a committed player prepare for college, with the travel schedule involved, required study halls, and tutoring (if needed), are tremendous. The amount of ice time between practice and games is great and will help players adjust and adapt to the rigors of the junior and collegiate levels of hockey. This program is not for the faint of heart, but a committed player / student whose hard work and desire, can combine with BHA’s disciplined academic and athletic program. Anyone who wants to move forward will find BHA a valuable step. And this program will provide the necessary tools, skills and direction for those preparing to take that next step
The strides Casey has made in physical development, academic and athletic growth have been huge. His level of maturity is now that of an adult college student, and he carries himself like a professional young man. And I believe that a large part of this growth can be attributed to Billy Doherty and Adam Culligan and the BHA program. I truly feel that the BHA program and staff can help any player/student who has the desire to be challenged and tested, prepare for that next step in academics, hockey, and personal growth
Casey is now in his senior year at BHA and is one of the leaders on both the Midget AAA team, and the junior team (in the Heritage League). He has recently been signed and called up to play for the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL (Junior A). And a lot of this is directly attributed to the training, disciple and development he has received from the BHA staff and program. Bill, Adam, Garry, Richard and the rest of the BHA staff, Thank You, for all you have done to prepare Casey for juniors, college and life. Your lessons will last him (and us) a lifetime.”
St. Ignace, Missouri
“I feel very fortunate for many of the things that I have been able to do in my life. And among the experiences that I feel most grateful for is my three-year attendance at the Banff Hockey Academy. I entered the Academy as a seventeen year old on the eve of my senior year of high school. Upon entering the Academy, I felt lucky because I was going to get an opportunity to train very intensively for the sport that I loved. As I existed at the time, I couldn’t foresee that what I would gain would be much more than that. But reflecting now as a BHA graduate who has gone on to play 3 years of college hockey, obtain a college degree, and begin a first career, there is seemingly no end to the number of items I could put on the “List of things that I gained from my experiences at the Banff Hockey Academy”. It was at the Academy where I greatly improved my hockey skills, made lifetime friends, found mentors who would have a profound effect on my future, and engaged in life-altering experiences that not many people of my age could have laid claim to
When I first entered the Banff Hockey Academy, I was a very marginal hockey player. However, overall, I was a good athlete, and believed very strongly that my athletic ability could definitely carry over into hockey given the proper experiences and instruction. And I turned out to be right. I was very pleased to see that at the Academy, I was not only exposed to professional on-ice instruction every day, I was also given coaching in strength and conditioning. All of this contributed to my becoming a much better hockey player in a very short amount of time. It wasn’t very long before I was playing to a higher level, and with much more confidence than I ever thought I could. Upon concluding my first year at the BHA I was on my way to Junior A tryouts. Although I did extremely well given my very small amount of hockey experience in comparison to my competition, I was barely unable to hang on to a team and I was the last cut made in the exhibition season. As a result I spent the next two years playing in the Academy’s Varsity program. By my very last season with the BHA I made the All-Star team in the Heritage Jr. Hockey League, where the Varsity team plays there season games.
When I first enrolled, I had no idea of significance it would have in my life. I understood more and more as my time in the Academy progressed, but did not fully understand it until just recently. And it’s reasonable to say that I’ll probably continue to have a greater feeling of its significance, as I get older. The Banff Hockey Academy ended up being a vehicle for me to improve myself not only on the ice, but also as a person. And I don’t feel I could have accomplished this otherwise, because it was the people that I interacted with, and the experiences that I had while in Banff that allowed me to achieve this improvement, and for that I will be forever thankful.”