Vienna Circle: Okanagan Hockey School
A Canadian school brings hockey culture to Austria in this month's Vienna Circle
A Canadian hockey academy might, at first glance, seem out of place in the heart of Lower Austria. With a mission statement "to encourage the achievement of each player’s full potential in Academics, Hockey, Sportsmanship, and Citizenship," the Okanagan Hockey School and Academy Europe combines international education with top sports training.
"We want to develop good people," says Elias Vorlicek, the program’s Director of Hockey. He sees it as a vehicle for building character as well as a forum to train players and promote hockey culture in the region.
Founded in St. Pölten in 2008 in collaboration with the Okanagan Hockey School in Penticton, BC, Canada, the program’s facilities provide one of the best Canadian hockey programs available overseas, in the setting of a modern boarding school. Here, like the Vienna Choir Boys’ School, the academy is able to work training into the students’ school schedules. The campus includes a 500 seat indoor Hockey Arena, built in 2007, along with soccer and track facilities. The small-city location provides a supportive environment in which to focus the students and develop their strengths.
In its third year of operation, the academy currently has 66 student athletes from diverse backgrounds divided into three teams according to grade level. Half the players come from Austria, while the rest come from a variety of other nations that include Russia, Latvia, Switzerland and Germany. They provide spring and summer hockey training sessions along with a year-round academic program that culminates in the students’ completion of an International Baccalaureate or an Austrian Matura.
"We use hockey as a carrot," says Vorlicek. "If the boys work hard and do well in school, they get to play."
The academy participates in the Austrian National Hockey league, but is preparing to send two of its teams to Boston for the Bean Town Classic, a hockey showcase which will provide the players with the opportunity to play in front of scouts for universities in the United States. Many of the L.A. Stars players hope to obtain scholarships for their academic and athletic achievements.
Okanagan Hockey School and
Dr. Adolf Schärf Straße 25
A-3100 St. Pölten
(0) 699 196 75 635