Celebration, selflessness, and reflection – three keywords that mean something different to everyone, but are united through youth athletics and the giving spirit that the holiday season brings. No matter the victories or the defeats you experienced in 2021, we shall turn our hearts and focus to surrounding communities that need help. From coast-to-coast, that is exactly what the TPH Center of Excellence student-athletes have been dedicated to accomplishing off the ice; being a helping hand and making a positive impact within their communities this holiday season.
In St. Louis, the student-athletes and their families teamed up with Angel Arms, a non-profit organization, to adopt a family of seven children with a single mother who is currently battling cancer. With this act of kindness, the TPH Center of Excellence in St. Louis was able to provide clothing, gift cards, and raise nearly $2,000; fulfilling the family’s wish list for the holidays. The hand-written letters from the student-athletes brought joy to the family, as well, during this difficult time.
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The Indiana team took action this December by participating in the WRTV6 Toy Drive. With help from the Red Cross, student-athletes collected and filled a van full of new toys that were gifted to families around the Indianapolis area who needed some holiday cheer. Once the last toy was successfully delivered, the TPH Center of Excellence Director in Indiana, Judi Kremer, recapped the exciting experience by mentioning “What a wonderful experience to see the compassion and energy that the student-athletes brought to the toy drive and getting the information out to collect from family, friends, neighbors, and teammates. The community supported our student-athlete’s efforts and everyone showed what the spirit of giving was truly about”.
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In the south, TPH Center of Excellence student-athletes in Nashville wrote and decorated uplifting holiday letters that brought happiness and a smile to the residents of the Morning Pointe Senior Living facility in Franklin, Tennessee. In the spirit of giving, the Nashville team also collected 1,631 pounds of food and delivered it to the Second Harvest Food Bank. “Our original goal was to collect 500 pounds and our students and their families stepped up in a big way,” said Jen Cubides, Head of Academics.
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Out west, the Phoenix team provided nearly $1,000 in hygiene products for women who recently became homeless. Turning the giving up a notch in December, the student-athletes also adopted a family in need; making Christmas a little happier this year.
These selfless efforts made by TPH Center of Excellence student-athletes and their families go far beyond bringing happiness to others, but rather unite teams, families, and communities. No matter if it’s in the classroom, on the ice, or in the community, each TPH Center of Excellence location has an environment built for growth with a holistic approach of preparing student-athletes for success in the ultimate game, the game of life.
Take a moment to reflect on what worked well for you this year in your hockey journey and where you aspire to be this time next year on and off the ice.
If you’re looking to find a better way to academic and athletic excellence, a great first step would be registering for the upcoming National Virtual Open House on Monday, January 10th. You could also get involved in the TK Scholarship Fund to help aspiring student-athletes.
Let’s study, train, and play more in 2022!
(Nashville, TN – December 15, 2021) – TPH is excited to announce Alan Keeso as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2022. Having served as Strategic Advisor to TPH over the past 5 years, Keeso brings in-depth knowledge of TPH and its Center of Excellence (CoE) academy model, its team members, and culture.
“We’re so excited to have Al lead our team going into our next 20 years at TPH,” said TPH founder Nathan Bowen, who will move out of the CEO role and into the Chairman role, remaining heavily active in TPH. “Having celebrated TPH turning 20 years old this year, we are absolutely pumped about what’s to come as we strive to lead the world in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes. Al is the leader to help us scale that impact.”
In addition to consulting for TPH in recent years, Keeso has helped dozens of small and medium-sized businesses grow for over a decade as a management consultant, independently, as well as through Grant Thornton and BDC. When asked early in 2021 by Bowen and his Investing Partner Taso Sofikitis to work more closely with TPH, Keeso decided to make the move with his family to Nashville.
“TPH to its core is a purpose-driven organization, with an outstanding team of committed professionals,” said Keeso. “It’s an honor to have this kind of confidence from Nathan and Taso to take TPH to new heights, and the responsibility that comes with the CEO role to the TPH team and our student-athletes is something I take very seriously. We’re a team that’s poised for growth through our Center of Excellence Study/Train/Play academy model, association management, camps and clinics, The Prospect Exchange, prospects teams, and events, now featuring Champions League Hockey in partnership with World Hockey Group. All of these efforts and their growth will enable us to positively impact the lives of a greater number of student-athletes, not only at our current locations, but also at many new locations to come. The future is bright at TPH.”
Keeso’s own journey as a student-athlete, and ensuing career, lend perspective to what Bowen believes will continue to differentiate TPH to prospective partners as well as families weighing the incredibly important decision on where to have their children develop as students, athletes, and people.
“Al has not only been an aspiring elite student-athlete, who reached levels in hockey that many TPH student-athletes are working towards daily, but he also exemplifies to our families what the bigger picture can be when lessons learned from sports are applied beyond the game,” said Bowen. “That’s what TPH is all about, and that’s what we feel differentiates us; we prepare our student-athletes not only for the next level in their sport, but also mentor them on habits that will help them experience wild success on the ultimate journey – life. With Al’s leadership, that differentiator will only get stronger. He has lived the ups and downs the game can throw at you and is an incredible role model for young aspiring student-athletes, because he never quit and he has used those tough times as motivation and lessons learned to prepare for the next challenge in life and hit it head on in pursuit of the next success.”
In addition to a successful business career, Keeso has earned two master’s degrees – an MBA and an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management – from the University of Oxford. At Oxford, he also published a working paper, took to the TEDx stage, and was goaltender for the university’s historic ice hockey team, becoming the only men’s player in the club’s history to have earned an Extraordinary Full Blue, the highest honor in sports at Oxford. Keeso also served as an infantry officer in the armed forces reserves and ran in a federal election.
A native of Listowel, Ontario, Keeso played hockey in his hometown before joining the Huron-Perth Lakers AAA organization and continuing on to Jr hockey with the Listowel Cyclones, Strathroy Rockets, and Sarnia Blast of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOHL). He then went to Boston to study at Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he was a goaltender for the varsity NCAA Division III hockey team and graduated with a BSc in Technology Management with honors.
“Having grown up in the game of hockey, I understand the opportunities for growth that youth sports provide for young people, on and off the ice, field, and court,” said Keeso. “Team members at TPH are deeply committed to the holistic development of student-athletes, knowing that the skills and habits learned extend well beyond the game to many other arenas of life. As a result of Nathan’s leadership and an all-star team of people, we have a great foundation in place as we head into ‘The Next 20’ at TPH.”
If you are interested in learning more about our #StudyTrainPlay model at the TPH Center of Excellence, Alan and other key members of our team will be participating in a Nationwide Virtual Open House on January 10th at 8:00 PM EST. Register for free here!
TPH Phoenix is elated to announce new hire, Amy Reagan, in the role of Head of Academics for its Center of Excellence (CoE) academy. Reagan joins TPH with over a decade of academic experience, in both public and private school settings, bringing significant knowledge of hybrid learning models and valuable techniques in providing personalized instruction through tutoring. As a parent of a current TPH Phoenix student-athlete, she understands first-hand the unique daily time constraints elite students have as they manage their sport and educational pursuits. In this new role, Reagan will assist in balancing academics with athletics for elite student-athletes who seek the selective learning environment where they can Study, Train, Play to their fullest potential.
“Amy is an excellent hire for us as she understands the needs of our student-athletes and can identify with our parent group,” noted Director and Head of Hockey TPH Phoenix, Brett Blatchford. “With her years of experience in the classroom and her support of students who were learning remotely last year, she brings a unique skill set to the position that will make her invaluable to TPH and our partners at Sequoia and Edmentum.”
As the Head of Academics, Reagan will work on-site as both a coach and mentor to student-athletes, while creating a successful learning environment for everyone. She will mentor in learning labs, teach organizational skills and accountability while providing ongoing support for students and families. She will leverage her strong communication skills as a key liaison between TPH hockey staff, teachers, and parents.
“With my prior experiences in an academy-style setting and as a parent of a student-athlete, I look forward to joining TPH as the Head of Academics. The unique experience that TPH provides student-athletes is second to none, and I am excited to ensure that each student reaches their academic potential while focusing on their character and work ethic,” said Reagan.
From her previous experience, Reagan has familiarity working in the dual environment for athletics and academics and creating essential bonds with all individuals involved. From her previous roles, she understands the value of education, paired with a positive learning environment. This past school year she worked with students ranging from grades first through seventh and helped them maintain focus and complete tasks in a timely manner while providing academic support during the COVID-19 school lockdowns in California. During that time, she customized and applied an individualized set of objectives for each student, conducted individual study sessions, upheld a constructive learning atmosphere, and monitored mental health within the unique educational situation. She communicated directly with parents and provided daily verbal and written status updates to ensure that all students succeeded during the unprecedented period.
She brings with her an immense amount of experience not just in education, but also in guidance and professional development within the academic world. Through much research, she has published papers on kindergarten readiness, home-learning activities, and the latest trends and procedures for learning environments. She graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Intervention.
To learn more about our Phoenix TPH CoE, click here.
Founded in 2001, TPH seeks to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through sport. TPH platforms include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics, and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, serving over 10,000 student-athletes on an annual basis, throughout 15 U.S. based divisions. TPH prides itself on taking a holistic approach, one that emphasizes the development of the individual in four ways: (1) as a player within a team setting, (2) as an athlete, dedicated to reaching his/her physical potential, (3) as a student, working to achieve his/her academic goals, and most importantly, (4) as a person, striving to win the ultimate game, and that’s the game of life.
The TPH Center of Excellence (CoE) in Phoenix is still very young, but it’s already making a lasting impression on student-athletes, their families and its own staff. The center has brought a balance of academics and athletics with a blended learning experience in the classroom with on and off-ice training, plus a mentorship program to prepare student-athlete for the future.
Education and Athletics During a Pandemic
Even with the pandemic, TPH Phoenix has found commitment from everyone involved to make sure its students are receiving the tools they need to succeed.
“The commitment all the way around from the student-athletes and staff are striving to be their best every day,” said Brett Blatchford, Director of Hockey-Operation. “It’s been nice to see the commitment level that they all have. The kids may not be elite today, but they all have a desire to get there. Our staff wants these kids to succeed. The lengths they’re willing to go to ensure their success, the student-athletes have so many resources available that there’s no way they won’t grow into better hockey players and people.”
While the pandemic has brought with it many challenges to education and athletics, TPH Phoenix has done everything possible to keep its student-athletes safe. The consistency of the educational process has been tremendous accomplishment this year, even with the challenges faced.
“First and foremost, we’ve had a commitment to keeping the kids safe,” said Blatchford. “It’s taken diligence to make sure everyone is following the proper precautions and beyond that keeping them in school and progressing in their development. We feel like we’re fully set up to give our student-athletes a good experience even if they do have to quarantine. The Kinduct mobile app helps with our communication to the student-athletes and keeps them on track. We’re set up to handle a blended learning environment. We easily make a transition if it’s needed. There are also at-home programs the student-athletes can use to stay on task with their training and academics.”
That consistency has been a key factor for Julie Hymovitch, whose son Evan (2007) attends the CoE in Phoenix.
“The experience has been even better than we knew it was going to be, particularly in light of COVID,” said Hymovitch. “What’s really important is that there haven’t been many stops at the CoE, and they’ve been very consistent. That’s been so huge that my kid has been able to be social. Some kids that have not been able to have that social piece in safe learning environment is a big problem. Mental health is really important. I’m hearing from a lot of friends whose kids are stuck at home, and they’re seriously depressed. That’s one of the things that has been huge for us and a big deal that TPH has been able to do this safely during a pandemic.”
Building Leaders On and Off the Ice
The TPH Center of Excellence isn’t only about training and educating student-athletes. It’s about preparing them for their future. Each CoE has success coaches and mentors that provide students much-needed one-on-one attention to help them develop and be ready for their future, even if it’s not in sports.
“TPH is unique in that it gives student-athletes a huge opportunity to succeed at the next level of life, and in their communities, whether they’re athletes or not,” said Brendan Burke, Player Development Coach & Mentor. “They’re going to get more personal attention here than any other school I know of here. We work with them on planning and making a schedule. They build a lot of life skills here that will help them be ready for college and university.”
Student-athletes are surrounded by staff members with experience at various levels of sport. Whether it be major juniors in Canada, juniors in the United States, NCAA Division-I or even professional hockey, TPH Phoenix has mentors and coaches that share their experiences with students.
“It’s a unique staff because no two staff members bring the same experiences,” said Blatchford. “No matter what level a student-athlete here wants to play at, there’s someone here that has something to offer them. They understand what it takes to be a pro and play at different levels of the sport. The fact that they’re able to be surrounded by people that played at the level that they aspire to get to and a group of people who understand what it takes to be successful and are eager to share that knowledge with the student-athletes to give them the best opportunity to succeed.”
For parents, having mentors and leadership training even outweighs so many other aspects of what’s provided at the Center of Excellence. Amy Koch has twin sons, Zachariah and Samson (2009), that attend the CoE in Phoenix. She’s already seeing the positive impact from the mentorship program on her sons.
“The biggest thing that stands out to me is the mentorship program that has created very strong foundations for leadership and team building,” said Koch. “They also understand the importance of skill building as opposed to just a game, and that’s resonated in their performance with their club team, their home and other sports they play as well. The CoE provides our children with the ability to set goals and have the foundation and structure and support to execute them successfully both in hockey, school and life.”
In regards to Evan Hymovitch, the CoE has helped him become a leader in the locker room and at home.
“His coaches picked captains and assistant captains two months into the season,” said Evan’s mom Julie. “Evan was made captain because of how he led in the locker room and how he interacted with his teammates. I think that has a lot to do with what happens in our house as he’s the youngest of five. The CoE is something where he has just wanted to shine. He used to be introverted, and now he’s the first one to ask how he can help. He’ll just jump in and offer help at school and at home. It’s little things that prepare you the future. It’s something that clicks with him at the CoE where he takes that and bring it forward. Everyone has noticed a difference in him. It has given Evan so much more confidence both on and off the ice. It’s made him a better teammate. It has enhanced his academic life. When I look at him as a student compared to last year, I’ve seen big changes.”
Unique Academic Experience
From a balanced learning environment, to being flexible in a pandemic, the way a student-athlete learns at the CoE in Phoenix has been one that parents enjoy. Balancing school and athletics have played a huge role in reducing stress and actually giving students more of their own time to do other things, which includes spending time with family.
“It’s a whole lot less aggravation for me,” said Hymovitch. “I’m not having to do the battle about homework and no tears over a lost weekend. Evan has free time now because of the balance while he’s at school. With his siblings being home right now as a part of virtual college, he gets to spend time with them, too. If he was at regular school, he wouldn’t have this extra time to be with his family. He’s been staying on or ahead of pace because he’s loving school. He actually enjoys it. He geeks out over the way school is set up, and he also gets the extra ice time without it being extremely early in the morning. It also gives extra to do extra workouts and whatever he wants to do. It’s so nice because we’re not all stressed.
Student-athletes are given goals and the expectation is that they will follow through on them. They’re given responsibility and ownership over their day, which parents feel helps them succeed. Those are skills that won’t only help them succeed in secondary school, but in college and beyond.
“I think it’s been amazing to watch the program set really strong goals and understand the follow through and step by step process on how to become a good scholar, friend and athlete,” said Amy Koch. “Those building blocks are important. Sometimes we forget that it takes steps to get there. Especially in academics, it’s giving them ownership, leadership and quality performance that they’re accountable for themselves. It’s an independent type of learning where they have to set those goals and hit them. They’re learning how to break them down and understand that little goals are just as important as the big goals.”
It’s definitely a unique learning environment at the CoE, but it’s one that student-athletes and staff embrace. Many liken it to preparing them for life on a college campus. More independence mixed with heightened responsibility.
Another notable unique experience at the CoE in Phoenix is the ability to bring in special guests on occasion. Special guests can include former or current professional players sharing their life experiences and answering questions from student-athletes. With a staff so well-connected in the hockey world like the one in Phoenix, it’s not a mystery that they’ve been able to bring in some fantastic speakers.
“We’ve been super lucky to have a lot of NHL players come to the Phoenix area and train,” said Burke. “We also have a lot of ex-NHLers that live in the area. We recently had Jake Bean and Matt Dumba to come speak as special guests. There’s a huge hockey community here that we’ve been able to lean on already in our short existence.”
Burke made the connections with Dumba and Bean while all three were playing in the WHL in the mid 2010s. And while those are a couple guests that have stopped by, many more are sure to come.
A Strong Foundation
Less than a year in, TPH Phoenix is making a positive impact on the lives of everyone involved. They’ve built a foundation with their student-athletes with an understand that gains aren’t immediate, but that they take time. Now that they’re establish, the center, its student-athletes and its staff will continue to grow.
“Significant gains take time; it’s not immediate,” said Brett Blatchford. “Once a foundation was established with the student-athletes, it became seamless to go through training on and off the ice. We continue to add layers now and can see the growth. The student-athletes went through on and off-ice testing at the beginning of the year, and they’ll go through it at the end of the year so we can see the growth each one has made.”
It’s an exciting time to be at the Center of Excellence in Phoenix, and space will be available soon for the 2021-22 school year. To learn more about the Center of Excellence, click here.To apply click here.
Meet our student of the month, Cole Willcoxson, from our TPH Center of Excellence in Phoenix. Cole currently plays for the 12U Elite Jr. Coyotes. Learn about his day-to-day experience at the Center of Excellence and why he thinks being challenged every day makes him a better student-athlete.
Learn more about the Center of Excellence.
A wealth of junior, college and pro experience added to growing market
(PHOENIX, ARIZONA – August 25, 2020) – Brett Blatchford, Director of Hockey-Operation for Total Package Hockey (TPH) Phoenix has announced the additions of Matthew Vanden Berg, Brian Slugocki and Scott Munroe as Player Development Coaches and Mentors. The addition will bring a plethora of experience and knowledge to TPH Phoenix.
Slugocki played junior hockey in Phoenix with the Phoenix Polar Bears before going on to play for the University of Arizona. He also took his talents overseas for a year in Sweden following his college career. Lately, he’s spent time with Darryl Belfry, who is recognized as a leader and innovator in hockey having spent time training players like Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and John Tavares.
“Brian has first class detail in skill development,” said Blatchford on Suglocki. “He’s spent time on the ice with Darryl Belfry learning how Darryl teaches and the best ways for people to acquire skill. He’s very trusted in the Phoenix community as a skills instructor, especially in the way he communicates with the kids.”
Matthew Vanden Berg adds copious amounts of knowledge in coaching. He’s been a Director of Player Advancement as well as a coach and mentor with the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals. Plus, Vanden Berg continues to serve as a video coach and analyst with various organizations. His skills in analyzation will also be valuable as TPH locations begin evolving ways to evaluate player performance.
“Matthew has spent the last few years with the Milwaukee Jr Admirals developing players there,” said Blatchford. “His level of detail is going to help us, especially with the Kinduct app.”
Adding the wisdom of a goaltender is going to be extremely valuable to TPH Phoenix. Scott Munroe brings with him a background in playing and coaching at multiple levels of the sport, including leading the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers to a College Hockey America regular season championship in 2003.
“Scott Munroe is a high character guy,” said Blatchford. “Scott has coached in the QMJHL and Division III college hockey. He also played eight years in the American Hockey League, so there’s a huge amount of knowledge for us to draw from. He’s a goaltender and fellow coach and mentor Brendan Burke is a goalie as well. They’ve been collaborating on the best ways to develop a player here. Those two will lead us.”
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All three additions to TPH Phoenix will be excellent role models both on and off the ice, and the student-athletes involved in the program will learn valuable skills that will carry them through life.
“They have to be a role model for the kids from a character perspective, who they are as people and also as mentors,” said Blatchford. “That is almost not hockey related, but obviously in the end, they’ll have something else to offer. It’s character, it’s mentorship, it’s being a good role model for the kids at our center. I don’t think we could have done a better job in Phoenix in that regard.”
Brett Blatchford, a native of Temperance, Michigan, is the Executive Director at the TPH Academy in Phoenix. Blatchford spent three seasons in the NAHL with the Texas Tornado, where he was a three-time NAHL National Champion and captain for two of three seasons. In the 2005-06 season with the Tornado, he was awarded the NAHL Academic Player of the Year and named to the First All-Star Team. Blatchford graduated from the University of Notre Dame which included four seasons (2006-2010) with the Fighting Irish hockey team. While there, he helped Notre Dame to the first National Championship appearance in school history and was a two-time CCHA champion. Following his college career, he played professionally in the CHL, ECHL, and AHL. Brett has 10 years of coaching experience including time with Alliance (Texas), Hockey Club Dallas, the Colorado Thunderbirds, the University of Denver, and most recently the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. Brett lives in North Phoenix with his wife, Kaci, and his two daughters Stevie and June.
Reagan joins TPH with over a decade of experience within academics in both public and private school settings, significant knowledge of hybrid learning models, and valuable techniques in tutoring student-athletes. She graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Intervention.
Dallas Drake, a Canadian former professional ice hockey winger in the National Hockey League (NHL), originates from Trail, British Columbia, Canada. Drake is a Player Development Coach & Mentor at the TPH Center of Excellence in Phoenix.
Having begun his hockey career with the Rossland Warriors (KIJHL) and the Vernon Lakers (BCJHL), Drake would soon travel to Northern Michigan University, where he assisted the team in winning the 1991 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship his junior year. That same season, Drake was awarded NCAA Defensive Player of the Year, First All-Star Team, and First All-American Team. He would later be inducted into the Northern Michigan University Hall of Fame in 2002.
Following his winning college career, Drake continued his success on the ice with the Detroit Red Wings for his rookie season in 1992-1993, posting 44 points on 18 goals and 26 assists. Drake played the beginning of his career for the Detroit Red Wings, but later played for the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes, and St. Louis Blues. Drake came full circle by ending his stellar NHL career with Detroit and won his first Stanley Cup championship in his final season in 2008. On July 15, 2008, Drake announced his retirement from the NHL.