Combining high academics with prep hockey

Chase your passion with a one-of-a-kind sports opportunity at Académie Ste-Cécile International School

An exciting new chapter is about to unfold in a Southwestern Ontario school. Already a leader in academics, Académie Ste-Cécile International School (or Ste. Cécile for short) is giving its students the best in elite sport development. The launch of their new prep hockey program during the 2023-2024 year is a one-of-a-kind opportunity in the border city of Windsor, Ontario. Interestingly enough, it is home to a new international bridge named after one of the greatest NHL hockey players in history, Gordie Howe, aka Mr. Hockey.

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Ste. Cécile is a private school already very committed to high-end sports with many brand-new and world-class facilities. Adding a hockey program of this calibre is a natural next step.

The Ste. Cécile prep hockey program

“To bring sports [combined with academics] at this level is quite unique,” says Robb Serviss, Director of Athletics at Ste. Cécile. For student-athletes looking to pursue rigorous academics with a structured athletic program, this program offers them that and more.

Every morning the students start their day with up to 2 ½ hours of sport training that incorporates 90 minutes of ice time. After that, they attend their daily classes and are welcome to play other sports or pursue other activities during the evenings. On top of sports training, students learn about elite development, nutrition, and mental training. Kids get 10 months of hockey and 60 games a year, as opposed to the two months they would get in a regular high school extracurricular program. 

“This is their passion and dream, and they are allowed to do it every day,” says Serviss.

Midwest Prep Hockey League

Ste. Cécile was chosen to be one of the six Canadian schools to play in the Midwest Prep Hockey League (MPHL). When the school applied for and won a coveted spot in the MPHL, it meant they would now play with the “big boys”.

Competing against some of the oldest private schools in North America, this opportunity helps prepare student-athletes to succeed in the college hockey environment, increasing their chances to earn scholarships and play professionally. The team travels for tournaments regularly, and players also get exposure to NCAA schools.

Considering the Ste. Cécile prep hockey program is new, getting a chance to play with some of the best players at this level in the MPHL is quite unique and a testament to Ste. Cecile and Serviss’ extensive experience and stellar reputation. 

Vested coaches who care

The coaches at Ste. Cécile are hired into long-tenured positions as teachers and coaches and they are very passionate about their roles. “This is their career. This is their life,” says Serviss. Trust and close relationships are fostered between the coaches and students, with constant communication and contact. Whether that is a wave in the hall, a pep talk on the bench, or a coach doing a mental-health check-in, the stable relationships that are built only help the student become more successful with their sports and academics. This is especially helpful for students away from home. 

In other minor hockey programs, you might get a different coach every year and not be able to build up that trust or feeling of stability. Former parent alum Sandy Hamilton says, “Teachers who are in tune with the needs of their students help create a culture of excellence.”

Serviss himself has years of experience both playing professionally and coaching. “As a coach, this is a great place to share my knowledge and the kids are eager to learn,” he says. His excitement for coaching and what Ste. Cécile will bring forward for him and his students is apparent.

Competitive recruitment

Twenty-five students will be accepted this year, and Serviss is actively scouting students for the program. In the not-too-distant future, the program will expand and include a girl’s prep hockey team. Ste. Cécile will make accommodations for different start dates for late applicants. It will also offer financial assistance based on merit.

Students who are ready for a big challenge and who are disciplined, motivated, goal-oriented, and looking for future pathways to high-level hockey, will do the best in this program, according to Serviss.

Read the Our Kids Report on Ste. Cécile here for more information.
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