August 7, 2014

10th annual NEHJ Prep School Guide

By NEHJ Staff

For the region’s prep school hockey teams, the competition begins long before the first game of the season is played. Attracting prospective student-athletes can be a battle on several fronts. From a hockey standpoint, many higher-end players are lured toward junior hockey, which they believe might set them up better for college and professional success.

From a financial standpoint, high tuition and unfamiliarity with the financial aid process could keep many potential applicants staying with public schools. Once a player decides the prep route is the way to go, there are dozens of options to consider, more than 60 schools in New England alone.

New England Hockey Journal caught up with some of them to discuss why those who choose the prep route will discover that the combination of athletics and academics is unmatched by what they could find anywhere else.

Avon Old Farms

500 Old Farms Road, Avon, CT 06001 | www.AvonOldFarms.com

Year established: 1927
Headmaster: Kenneth H. LaRocque
Boys head coach: John Gardner
Director of admissions: Brendon Welker ’91

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Since 1927, Avon Old Farms has been a leader in preparing young men for higher education, and the world. Avon is a dynamic community of learning with a rigorous curriculum anchored in the liberal arts. By understanding boys — and with appreciation for their sense of humor, their energy and how they learn — we have created the kind of environment where our students are able to become their best selves.

“Avon is conveniently located in the heart of the Farmington River Valley. Our founder, Theodate Pope Riddle, an accomplished American architect, created a campus with the feel of an English village on 1,000 acres of Connecticut countryside. The Cotswold-inspired architecture reflects the traditional approach to education that is so successful here.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “Another way Avon boys come together is through the arts. Our rich and varied programs in music and the visual and performing arts provide many opportunities for boys to express themselves creatively and form meaningful connections with peers.

“Our students have been honored locally, regionally and nationally for their creative accomplishments. Most impressive, however, Avon is a place where you can draw, paint, play an instrument, sing or act, whether you have had years of experience or none.”

Canterbury School

101 Aspectuck Ave., New Milford, CT 06776 | www.cbury.org

Year established: 1915
Headmaster: Tom Sheehy
Boys head coach: Paddy McCarthy
Girls head coach: Peter Lavigne
Director of admissions: Matt Mulhern 

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Our hilltop campus is surrounded by acres of well-groomed lawns, fields and vistas that is within walking distance to an active New England town.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “Student-athletes should begin to look at Canterbury during their eighth- or ninth-grade year.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “The sense of community at Canterbury will strike anyone who visits.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “During the season, approximately 18 to 20 hours a week. This estimate includes practice, games and travel.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “Top-notch College Counseling Office, experienced coaching staff, strength and conditioning program, captain leadership program, game video/analysis.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “Recent college placement: Connecticut College, Wesleyan, Tufts, Trinity, Hobart, St. Anselm, Delaware, as well as the USHL.”

Cardigan Mountain School

62 Alumni Drive, Canaan, NH 03741 | www.cardigan.org

Year established: 1945
Headmaster: David J. McCusker Jr., ’80
Boys head coach: Patrick Turcotte
Director of admissions: Chip Audett

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Firstly, Cardigan is an all-boys junior boarding school enrolling students in grades 6-9. Our ‘whole-boy’ approach focuses on the academic, athletic and social-emotional growth and development of each boy, with daily life centered on the school’s core values of ‘Compassion, Honesty, Respect, Integrity, Scholarship and Fairness.’ ”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “We work on a rolling admission basis, accepting applications throughout the year as space is available. We recommend that families complete the application process by the end of February prior to the desired year of enrollment, particularly if financial aid is a consideration.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “During the season (winter), players train six days per week for approximately two to two-and-a-half hours per day, including two to three games each week. In the fall and spring seasons, each student participates in other sports, which we believe enhances his overall athleticism. As we offer a program for all levels of experience and skill, this approach provides opportunities for boys to try new sports should they desire.”

What do Cardigan families say about their experience with the school? “Cardigan fosters the development of a sense of respect and responsibility beyond one’s self to an age group that, in other settings, is being ‘taught’ to worry about themselves first and then be concerned with others later.” — Scott Borek, associate head coach, UNH, CMS parent ’10, ’12, ’15

“Cardigan Mountain School has empowered our grandson with skills and tools necessary for success in life academically, socially, athletically and spiritually that, hopefully, will motivate him to become a leader wherever his life’s journey takes him.” — Donald “Toot” Cahoon, former head coach, UMass Amherst, Princeton, CMS grandparent ’12

Cushing Academy

39 School Street, Ashburnham, MA 01430 | www.cushing.org

Year established: 1865
Headmaster: Christopher Torino
Boys head coach: Rob Gagnon
Girls head coach: Courtney Sheary
Director of admissions: Deborah Gustafson

What are the athletic benefits for a hockey player going the prep-school route? “Players get exposure to college coaches, experience great competition, and their schedule allows for academic success.”

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Cushing’s hockey rink is running all year long — most prep schools don’t have this luxury. Additionally, we are in a very central location — central Massachusetts and central New England.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “While it depends on each family, we suggest looking in the fall of the previous academic year.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “Typically three hours per day, 18 to 21 hours per week.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “Weight training, video, support/coaching from alumni who are professional hockey players. Hockey players have access to the ice all year long and are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “Cushing has many success stories of players moving on to play at the highest level of college and the NHL. For example, Keith Yandle ’05 is currently an NHL All-Star. We’ve also had five Olympians (three males, two females).”

Dexter Southfield

20 Newton Street, Brookline, MA 02445 | www.dextersouthfield.org

Year established: 1926
Headmaster: Todd Vincent
Boys head coach: Dan Donato
Directors of admissions: Bill Southwick, Clare Martin

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “The proximity to Boston, two rinks for practices and games.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “Small class sizes and exposure to high-end colleges.”

What do Dexter Southfield families say about their experience with the school? “They appreciate the emphasis upon strong character education and a vibrant community atmosphere, particularly the close ties between students, families and teachers.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “A coaching staff well-connected in the college hockey world.”

What are the other critical elements of your recruitment process? “We are looking for strong student-athletes from great families.”

What is the level of competition that Dexter Southfield faces during the season? “Dexter Southfield plays one of the most competitive schedules in all of New England, including the Lawrence/Groton tournament and the Cushing tournament.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “We have had three Dexter Southfield players drafted in the last two years. We have also sent players on to Colgate, Harvard, Middlebury, Bowdoin and Babson.”

The Gunnery

99 Green Hill Road, Washington, CT 06793 | www.gunnery.org

Year established: 1850
Headmaster: Peter Becker
Boys head coach: Chris Baudo
Girls head coach: Paul Baier
Director of admissions: Sara Lynn Leavenworth

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Our campus feels a lot like home, something we hear often from families returning from tours and alums coming back to visit. We are equipped with the latest technology in our dorms and classrooms, yet we remain aesthetically true to the old New England look and feel.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “We basically serve as the ‘family advisor’ for each of our kids. We market them tirelessly throughout the year, whether the summer, fall, winter or spring.”

What are the other critical elements of your recruitment process? “The key to any of this is what you sell beyond the hockey. The hockey sells itself. We focus on developing our boys into young men of high character. We attract high-quality families, and thus we continue the work already begun by the parents. We set high expectations regarding character, decision making, respect for others and the idea of giving back. We share with prospective families statistics even more important than hockey, with those being kids from our team on honor roll, in leadership positions, serving as captains of other sport teams, and so on. We are most proud of what our guys do outside of the rink, and culturally they take great pride in it as well.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “Thirty-seven Division 1 commits in the last seven years, six consecutive Prep West league championships, five Elite Eight tournament appearances in last six years; 50-plus Division 3 commitments; a Hobey Baker finalist and multiple all-league collegians; 10 alumni playing pro at the beginning of last year.”

Kents Hill School

1614 Main Street, Kents Hill, ME 04349 | www.kentshill.org

Year established: 1824
Headmaster: Patrick C. McInerney
Boys head coach: Doug Friedman
Girls head coach: Meghan Maguire Toomey
Director of admissions: Meghan Bennett 

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Kents Hill is a close-knit community where everything a student-athlete would need is available. The Alfond Athletics Center, which includes the Bonnefond Ice Arena, our NHL-sized rink, fitness center and basketball courts, is available throughout the school year.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “We have had team success and player success in recent years. In 2008 our team won the New England Prep Championship. We have many players continue their playing careers at the college level in Division 3 and players such as Logan Day and Mark Dufour have committed to Division 1 programs at Providence and Union, respectively. We have graduates who have gone on to professional careers as well.”

What can a hockey player expect at Kents Hill? “Players can expect to be challenged academically. They will also be challenged on and off the ice to continue their development. They will have a coach who has played at the highest levels possible for coaches including Jack Parker (Boston University), Bob Hartley (Calgary Flames), Blaise MacDonald (Colby College), and Claude Noel (Winnipeg Jets), to name a few. They will learn the value of teamwork and work ethic that will transcend far beyond the ice rink. Students will build close and lasting relationships with their peers and their teachers and coaches. They will leave Kents Hill having gained many valuable skills that will help contribute to their overall success in college and life.”

Hebron Academy

339 Paris Road, PO Box 309, Hebron, ME 04238 | www.hebronacademy.org

Year established: 1804
Headmaster: John J. King
Boys head coach: James LeBlanc
Girls head coach: Katie Ftorek
Director of admissions: Joe Hemmings

What are the athletic benefits for a hockey player going the prep-school route? “Balance is most important. With top-notch athletic, academic and arts facilities at your fingertips, boarding-school life allows for a well-rounded, healthy life balance. Furthermore, prep schools, boarding schools in particular, have the luxury of diversity. The benefit of diversity is being able to compete, learn and socialize in a culturally rich environment. Hebron Academy has students from 17 different countries. Boarding schools are global communities, much like the real world. Finally, prep-school coaches and faculty are warm, caring people dedicated to guiding each student-athlete to reach their highest potential in all aspects of life.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “The realization that students can be themselves — there is no pressure to fit into one group or another. Students will meet people from all parts of the world. Students are encouraged to try new things and step out of their comfort zone. It’s all part of the growth experience.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “During the season, hockey players are on the ice often; Robinson Arena is located on campus. Home and away games are 2-3 per week and practices round out the week. Student-athletes must develop good time management skills.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “Beyond the contacts that our coaches and faculty have with college coaches, Hebron has modern training facilities including our own Robinson Arena and a new 58,000 square-foot athletic center. We employ two certified athletic trainers. In addition, Hebron offers a power skating program in the fall.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “Graduates of recent Hebron boys and girls teams have played at West Point, UConn, Sacred Heart, North Dakota, Bowdoin, Saint Anselm, Providence College and UVM.”

Lawrence Academy

26 Powderhouse Road, Groton, MA 01450 | www.lacademy.edu

Year established: 1793
Headmaster: Dan Scheibe
Boys head coach: Robbie Barker
Girls head coach: Kevin Potter
Director of admissions: Rob Olsen 

Loomis Chaffee School

4 Batchelder Road, Windsor, CT 06095 | www.loomischaffee.org

Year established: 1914
Headmaster: Sheila Culbert
Boys head coach: John Zavisza
Girls head coach: Liz Leyden
Director of admissions: Erby Mitchell

What are the athletic benefits for a hockey player going the prep-school route? “Prep school Division 1 is some of the best hockey in the country, and kids have access to high-quality experienced coaching.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “There are many options and it’s different for every family. Students apply as early as seventh and eighth grade. Many kids start in ninth or 10th grade, and also for a postgrad year.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “How much work gets done together with coaches off ice. Your coach is involved in your academic performance and college recruitment. Your hockey coach is also your academic mentor and college mentor.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “During season November 15 to March 1, on the ice six days per week. Practice to game ratio is three to one.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “We have advanced weight training in offseason. College counseling. The whole academic athletic structures instills a discipline to survive at the next level.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “One of the biggest successes is that all of our hockey players go on to college. Currently we have five Division 1 recruits on this season’s team. … The intensity of play and level of play in the Founders League likens itself to college/ECAC play.”

Northwood School

Director of admissions: Tim Weaver

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Northwood School is unique because of our location. The Olympic village of Lake Placid, New York, is less than a mile from campus and offers our student-athletes an unlimited array of activities. Our hockey players have access to the three sheets of ice at The Olympic Center. Lake Placid is simply the best boarding school town in the country.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “It is best to begin the process of looking at schools during the year leading up to attendance. We recommend a visit during the winter season. This allows prospective student-athletes to see us in action and experience a day at school.” 

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “The most surprising aspect of prep-school life for most students is the close relationships that they develop with peers and teachers. The family-like atmosphere allows students to feel supported in all their endeavors at prep school.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “Northwood School provides our hockey players a comprehensive development program to allow students to reach their goals. We offer players an extended season, a 12-month strength and conditioning program, and a comprehensive nutrition program and college exposure through scouted tournaments.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “We are proud of our long history of success at placing players in strong collegiate programs and beyond. Most of our best stories revolve around our players who through hard work in the classroom and on the ice are able to open more doors at the college level.”

Stanstead College

450 Dufferin, Stanstead, Quebec, Canada, J0B 3E0 | www.stansteadcollege.com

Year established: 1872
Headmaster: Michael Wolfe
Boys head coach: Bjorn Kinding
Girls head coach: Sarah Vaillancourt
Director of admissions: Joanne Carruthers

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “With an average of 12 students per class and a total student population of just under 200, our family atmosphere truly sets Stanstead College apart.”

What do Stanstead families say about their experience with the school? “For most students, Stanstead becomes a second family. It is the comment we hear the most and an ethos we embrace — we foster a family-style atmosphere in all aspects of school life.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “Student-athletes should visit during one of our open-house days, or opt for an individual visit specifically geared to prospective hockey players.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “The hockey season is the longest sports season of the school year, involving significant practice and travel time. However, practice time is scheduled into the school day for all students so as not to detract from academic and other commitments.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “Stanstead College is a Canadian school but also accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) with membership in the Midwest Prep Hockey League and North American Prep Hockey Association. Our coaches and coordinator of hockey operations actively promote players to find the best post-secondary placements for them on either side of the border.”

What are the success stories you share with prospective players and their parents about your alumni’s accomplishments in the hockey world? “Significant placements at NCAA D1 and CIS schools, including Mark Jankowski (Class of 2012), first-round NHL draft, 21st overall, Calgary Flames, currently with Providence College; Frederic Foulem (Class of 2015), committed to Harvard University.”

Thayer Academy

745 Washington St., Braintree, MA 02184 | www.thayer.org

Year established: 1877
Headmaster: Ted Koskores
Boys head coach: Tony Amonte
Girls head coach: Brian Cibelli
Director of admissions: Jon White

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “We are a non-sectarian, coed day school for students in grades 6-12 conveniently located 11 miles south of Boston and accessible by many forms of transportation.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “Thayer offers a balanced program in academics, arts, athletics and activities. Our students participate in all four areas.”

What do Thayer families say about their experience with the school? “Thayer prepares students for selective colleges as both students and athletes.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “Usually in the fall or winter before the September of enrollment.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “Two-hour practices five days a week in the winter term with games on Wednesdays and Saturdays.”

Besides practices and games, what else does your program offer to advance a player’s hockey career? “We encourage our students to participate in all areas of school life including playing on multiple sports teams.”

What are the athletic benefits for a hockey player going the prep-school route? “Small classes, individual attention, extra help from teachers, a strong sense of community.”

What are the other critical elements of your recruitment process? “We ask students to take the SSAT test, to have an interview on campus, and to submit a written application, recommendations and transcripts.”

What is the level of competition that Thayer faces during the season? “Thayer competes in the ISL and NEPSAC leagues.”

Vermont Academy

10 Long Walk, PO Box 500, Saxtons River, VT 05154 | www.vermontacademy.org

Year established: 1876
Headmaster: Sean P. Brennan
Boys head coach: Chris Davidson
Girls head coach: Lisa Wilson
Director of admissions: Andrew M. Millikin 

What are the athletic benefits for a hockey player going the prep-school route? “There are many benefits to a hockey player going the prep route, including exposure to college coaches, a higher quality of play and the outstanding education that prep schools offer.”

What makes your campus stand out from other schools in the region? “Vermont Academy’s 450-acre campus is located in beautiful southern Vermont. From the maple trees that line the Long Walk, to the on-campus ski hill, to the athletic fields overlooking the Saxtons River, VA’s campus is one of the most beautiful prep-school campuses in New England.”

How far in advance should a prospective student-athlete start looking at your school? “It’s really never too early to start looking at our school. The key is to visit Vermont Academy when school is in session. You’ll get a true sense for what the school is about when its students are on campus.”

What’s one part of prep-school life that might surprise a student-athlete considering attending your school? “How busy you are and the opportunities you will have. A student who comes in thinking that they are a hockey player may be surprised to find that they are a talented artist or may find themselves up on stage performing in a play.”

How much of a time commitment is hockey in a student-athlete’s daily/weekly life? “Student-athletes at Vermont Academy are students first and athletes second. Athletics shouldn’t get in the way of academics and the daily/weekly time commitments reflect that.”

This article originally appeared in the August edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to read the digital edition for free.

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