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.
(ST. LOUIS, MO – November 19, 2020) – Total Package Hockey (TPH) and St. Louis Director of Hockey and Operations Philip McRae have announced the addition of Stephen Bopp as a Player Development Coach & Mentor. Bopp is currently the head coach of the 2009 Carshield AAA Team, as well as the assistant coach of the St. Louis Rockets Elite U16 AA team.
Bopp grew up playing hockey in St. Louis and has been a member of the Kirkwood Stars, Affton Americans Central States and AAA Blues. Bopp went on to play junior hockey for the St. Louis Bandits of the North American Hockey League for two years and finished his career at Lindenwood University where he was a member of the 2016 National Championship team. While at Lindenwood, Bopp studied Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition and had the opportunity to intern with the St. Louis Blues Strength and Conditioning Department during their 2015-2016 Western Conference Final run.
“I’m looking forward to joining the TPH family because of the variety of students I get to coach,” said Bopp. “I love the challenge of finding ways to connect with different players to help them grow as people and hockey players. This is a unique opportunity because I’m equally excited to learn from Phil, Bobby, Scott and Bruce. These coaches all have an established background that can help broaden my own perspective in how I coach others.”
Bopp currently owns Bodies By Bopp LLC and works with athletes of all ages to help improve strength, coordination and sport performance. With his past experience, he will be a tremendous asset to student-athletes in St. Louis.
“I believe each person is the sum of their own experiences and you can learn something from everyone you cross paths with,” said Bopp. “I’ve worked with players from 6U all the way to the NHL level, so I’m excited to coach the athlete and not the sport. Each student at TPH has a different goal and driving factor for the game of hockey so it is my job to figure how to get the most out of each individual.”
Learn more about the Center of Excellence.
(HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA – November 14, 2020) – Total Package Hockey (TPH) along with John and Amy Kennedy have announced the TK Scholarship Fund at the TPH Center of Excellence. The TK Scholarship Fund was created to celebrate the life and legacy of MAJ Thomas E. Kennedy, who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on August 8, 2012. Applications will be available soon at TotalPackageHockey.com/TKScholarshipFund.
“The TK Scholarship Fund was put in place to honor the memory and serving legacy of Tommy Kennedy,” said TPH Chief Executive Officer Nathan Bowen. “While serving our country, Tommy lost his life and paid the ultimate price. His brother, John Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Amy Kennedy, brought this opportunity to us just a few months ago after their son Jack had a great experience at our TPH Center of Excellence in Atlanta, Georgia. They asked if they could do more. Once we learned what the TK Scholarship Fund was all about, to see the vision, mission and values align exactly the same as TPH, we knew this was going to be a great opportunity to serve some student-athletes that need a little more help. But more importantly, we knew this pointed to the “TK way” as we preach to our student-athletes on a daily basis what it means to put others first, team first and family first, just like Tommy.”
Major Kennedy was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a varsity defensemen on the Black Knight Ice Hockey team. He was a dedicated student-athlete, a cherished leader amongst his fellow soldiers and an outspoken advocate for those who needed a helping hand. MAJ Kennedy’s legacy lives on through the recipients of this scholarship by providing financial assistance to elite student-athletes who demonstrate leadership, dedication to academic success and a desire to train at the highest level in their sport.
“For us to be in a position to extend his legacy to help others receive a great education as well as advance their athletic career is a true honor,” said John Kennedy, Thomas’ brother. “To have TPH also be a part of that, it wraps up full circle. Our brother was a hockey player that went to West Point. He came out an incredible leader a the free world and died fighting for his country. For him to know that he’s helping folks that are a little less financially fortunate, and to let their kid follow their dream, it’s nothing short of spectacular.”
Kennedy was a highly decorated officer, he earned dozens of awards and service medals, including Bronze Star Medal (3), Purple Heart and Bronze Star Posthumous, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Army Commendation Medal (3), Army Achievement Medal (3), Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Bronze Service Star (4), Combat Action Badge, Air Assault Badge, Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab.
“Tommy just really embodied what it meant to be a great student, a great athlete, a great teammate and a great leader,” said Amy Kennedy, sister-in-law of Thomas. “He was always looking out for other people and always standing up for people that didn’t have voices for themselves. That’s why we’re so grateful to be involved with TPH, because the values and pillars of TPH align with who he was as a human.”
The ideal candidate for the TK Scholarship Fund at the TPH Center of Excellence is a student-athlete that is dedicated to their academic studies, exudes a tremendous amount of leadership both in their sport and in their community and stands up for what is right. Learn more at TotalPackageHockey.com/TKScholarshipFund.
(DETROIT, MICHIGAN – October 23, 2020) – Last weekend was a tremendous one for the Michigan Hockey Advancement (MHA) program at Total Package Hockey (TPH). At the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) Fall League championships in Blaine, Minnesota, both the 18U and 16U MHA teams were crowned champions.
For those unfamiliar, MHA is a pre-season program for Michigan high school players. The main goal and objective is exposure for players by using resources like The Prospect Exchange, a network of coaches and more. It’s a fantastic fall playing opportunity for dedicated, driven high-school level hockey players to prepare for their club seasons and gain exposure to coaches and scouts at the junior, collegiate and professional levels, while competing in a structured, team environment.
“It was our first year in the inaugural NAPHL fall league, and The NAHL and NAPHL have done a phenomenal job with marketing, broadcasting games on HockeyTV and utilizing social media for content about players,” said Rick Gadwa, MHA Program Director. “That, coupled with what we do for our players, was a great marriage this year. On the other side of exposure is preparation for their high school seasons. It does prepare them to play at a high level to get them ready for their seasons. We feel all of our players are leaders for their high school teams. Getting them ready to go is something that MHA takes a lot of pride in, and I think we’ve done a phenomenal job at it.”
MHA takes elite high school hockey players from around Michigan, places them together, trains them for competition and then takes them to tournaments. While it may be a challenge, it’s a worthwhile one.
“The special part about it all is that a lot of these players are rivals during the high school hockey season,” said Gadwa. “The challenge that we have is limited practice and a lot of travel and events. It’s unique how our groups are able to come together as one and play at such a high level with such limited time together. That’s testament to our MHA coaches and players, and their ability to adapt to the situation and perform at a high level. The players have great hockey IQ and professionalism in preparation. We grow quickly and fast together as a group. It’s pretty impressive.”
For teenagers to come together so quickly, it shows a great level of leadership amongst themselves. They may compete against each other during the regular high school season, but for a few months, they have to quickly come together to win.
“The guys that they pick for the team are superior,” said Lucas Krol of the 18U team. “There’s not a person I wouldn’t want on my team. It’s really key to be staying on the ice, and you can definitely see a difference when you come to your high school season and the shape you’re in. It elevates your game. It allows you to create key learning skills in leadership and allows it to grow. You mingle with one group of kids in high school and another group come fall. It builds your character as a person both inside and outside the rink.”
During the season, Krol, a forward, plays for Detroit Country Day School. This past fall was his third competing with MHA, but his first with the 18U team. This year was certainly the most successful for him and the team as he notched seven goals and one assist in eight games. This was a big year to make an impact as he hopes to play junior hockey after high school and then eventually on to Division I hockey, maybe even the pros.
“Throughout my three years, we hadn’t been very successful, so to cap off the final tournament of my career at TPH with a win was the icing on top of the cake to go into my senior season at Country Day,” said Krol. “It’s been great to be able to go out to Minnesota as many times as we did. It allows us to go to top tier tournaments to know where we’re at in the outside world and how we compare. It allows us to get exposure to teams we hopefully get to play for in the future.”
Goaltender Dylan Eliason just completed his second year with MHA. He previously played with the 15U team, and this year backstopped the 16U team going 3-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .929 save percentage. During the season, he tends the crease for Northville High School. His dreams are similar to many in the program in that he wants to play junior and then college hockey following his high school career, but for now, he’s enjoyed his experience with MHA.
“It was hard at first because we didn’t have a lot of practices between each tournament, but we were able to get back into the swing of things quickly,” said Eliason. “Luckily enough, there are always a few guys from the same school, which helps. Everyone kind of knows each other because of the hockey world, too, so it’s not that hard to get going with the energy and take us to victory. It was just a great time. The team connected well and easily. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
— NAPHL (@NAPHL) October 18, 2020
The weekend was a success for the two teams, but how is success measured overall for the program?
“I think success speaks through a couple things,” said Gadwa. “We look at our records against teams that are together through the week unlike us. We beat a lot of those teams. Scouts and coaches take notice of that. The reputation of the program has really exceeded itself. My phone has been ringing off the hook all fall from multiple teams around the country wanting to play us as well as junior and college coaches interested in our players. This year, in a unique year where there’s been more focus on video, the amount of feedback I’ve received is second to none compared to past seasons.”
The program continues to grow, bringing elite high school talent from around Michigan together to compete against teams from across the country. Be on the lookout to see more players making waves in the future with their roots coming from the Michigan Hockey Advancement program.
Learn more about Michigan Hockey Advancement here.
Get to know our September Student-Athlete of the Month, Ty Johnston, from our Center of Excellence in Atlanta. Ty is a defenseman for the 13U AAA Nashville Jr. Predators team, and has enjoyed his experience going to school and training with his teammates every day.
Learn more about our Centers of Excellence here.
(NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – October 1, 2020) – Total Package Hockey (TPH) has named Macauley Lukenda as the new Director of Tournaments and Special Events. The position will be based out of Nashville, where most of this season’s events will take place.
Lukenda comes to TPH following her time as the Program and Scheduling Assistant at Compton Family Ice Arena as part of Notre Dame Athletics. During that time, she also served as Notre Dame Figure Skating Club’s Team Assistant Coach, a power skating coach, Learn to Skate USA instructor and the Competition Chair for the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Midwest and Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectionals.
Lukenda received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Sport Management and Minor in Public Relations from Adrian College where she was a member of both the Varsity Figure Skating and Synchronized Skating teams. In 2017 & 2018, she was named national champion in figure skating. She brings all that knowledge to Nashville to enhance the experience of TPH tournaments.
“I think what excites me the most is expanding what’s already there,” said Lukenda. “There’s already groundwork set for tournaments. I’m really excited to expand them and build on them and really make it an overall experience for teams coming to Nashville and to other places. We’re going to make these tournaments more of an experience for everyone.”
With most tournaments taking place in Nashville, Lukenda will be focused on enhancing the experience for everyone coming to town for the events. Even during a pandemic, there are many opportunities to build the foundation in place.
“Nashville is such a great place with entertainment and experience,” said Lukenda. “Most of our tournaments are going to be in Nashville, so bringing that full experience of the city and what people think of it, will be important to bring to the rink as well as much as we can with the pandemic. Running a great tournament overall, and bring a great experience beyond hockey is what’s important.”
A wealth of knowledge in ice sports comes with Lukenda’s addition to TPH, and addition is already a valuable resource not just to TPH, but to players and families participating in tournaments.
Learn more about TPH tournaments here.
(HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA – September 25, 2020) – Total Package Hockey (TPH) CEO Nathan Bowen has announced a partnership with Steelcase Inc. to furnish and design the layout Centers of Excellence nationwide. Steelcase has been providing furniture and designs to organizations across a wide variety of industries for over 105 years.
“Our growth has been so substantial on the academic side in particular that we felt we needed to align ourselves with an organization that could design and furnish our academic spaces,” said Bowen. “What we were looking for was a nationally-recognized company like Steelcase to create setups for us that can individualize and customize the learning experience.”
Not only does Steelcase supply proper furniture for the learning environments at TPH Centers of Excellence, but they also provide an individualized experience in evaluating what will work best for each location.
“Steelcase made a lot of recommendations on how we can layout our spaces better to serve our students,” said Bowen. “They have access to the methodology of what’s working in learning. They’ve already designed and furnished Centers of Excellence in Grand Rapids, Phoenix, St. Louis and Florida. Any time we open up a new Center of Excellence, Steelcase will evaluate the physical space and make recommendations on layout, paint colors, etc. Steelcase presented data and research about bright colors on accent walls making the environment more fun for learning. Now, we’re putting our TPH colors on accent walls at Centers of Excellence to help foster a better learning environment.”
With the partnership, Steelcase has provided TPH a kit of parts to choose from so that there is consistency throughout the organization. It’s consistent, but not the same everywhere. An important piece is that each Center of Excellence is customized to the needs of the students.
“We aligned ourselves with people that are way smarter than us and can bring solutions and ideas to us on how we can make a pretty good experience even better,” said Bowen. “That’s one of the things that attracted us to them is that they have so many different divisions that specialize in specific industries. It’s not just a warehouse sending us furniture and paint. It’s a customized kit of parts that TPH and Steelcase believe give our students the best chance to learn.”
As education continues to evolve, providing students with the best possible learning environment is key. Steelcase’s dedicated team in education design, which also includes St. Louis based partner Color Art and Detroit based partner NBS Commercial Interiors, will continue to help provide the necessary environments that enhance the learning experience.
“The quality of furniture is just fantastic, and for every Center of Excellence we furnish, we’re trying to provide minimally three to four different learning environments under one roof,” said Bowen. “I think that this partnership further illustrates our commitment to exceeding expectations.”
TPH is proud of the new partnership with Steelcase and the incredible enhancements they will bring to each Center of Excellence.
Learn more about Steelcase.
Learn more about the Center of Excellence.
TPH Center of Excellence in Nashville student-athlete McKenzie Edwards recently won her first-ever gold medal at the John Smith Memorial Competition. Learn more about McKenzie, her Center of Excellence experience and training schedule from her and coach Kori Ade of the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy.
(BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – September 23, 2020) – Total Package Hockey (TPH) has announced the addition of Nelson Sharfman as the Director of Academics for its Boston division. Sharfman brings with him many years of experience in education, engineering and business.
Sharfman’s credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Material Science and Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Master of Business Administration from Babson College. He has worked in engineering consulting, product development and engineering/manufacturing management. 15 years ago, Sharfman became interested in the development of people. He then pursued a career that allowed him to do that as Sharfman is certified to teach science and mathematics in Massachusetts. Tutoring and one-on-one education is what excites him the most as he feels that’s where he can have the biggest impact. That’s one of the main reasons why he’s thrilled to join TPH at the Boston Center of Excellence.
“The Center of Excellence gives an opportunity for a lot of one-on-one instruction,” said Sharfman. “I have a lot of experience in tutoring and have worked with a variety of students from junior high through college. The one-on-one learning that you get supporting kids in their educational endeavors is the most stimulating of all. Having the educational platform from Edmentum as the backbone and core element of the education takes a lot of the burden of teaching off and you can focus on some of the concepts the kids need the most support with. I think some of the powerful learning all occurs when there’s direct engagement with another human being. When you’re working with someone one-on-one, you can find the roadblocks to learning specifically and help the student realize what that roadblock is and help them work through it.”
The TPH Center of Excellence creates an excellent balance for student-athletes to study, train and play. Sharfman believe that balance empowers the student-athlete to succeed.
“This academic model where you pair it up with athletics really empowers the people that participate,” said Sharfman. “It gives them a sense of control that they are actively going after something that is important to them. It makes the academics not being trapped in a building, but a task that has to be accomplished in order for them to succeed. For the kids, they can see it as a means to an end, a task that needs to be accomplished. It’s they have to actively complete in order to get where they want to go.”
Sharfman also has experience working in the education portion of a sports academy as he was previously with the North American Hockey Academy. His previous experience in multiple industries, as well as his dedication to education, makes him a perfect fit for TPH and its Center of Excellence.
Learn more about the Center of Excellence.
Learn more about TPH Boston.
Added service will increase opportunities for virtual recruiting
(DETROIT, MICHIGAN – September 18, 2020) – The Michigan Hockey Advancement (MHA) program has announced an agreement with The Prospect Exchange (TPE) for the 2020-21 season. The agreement will provide MHA student-athletes access to virtual resources such as video breakdowns by shift and analytics.
“We’re ecstatic to add a platform like TPE for our players,” said Rick Gadwa, Total Package Hockey Director of Hockey-Operation & Programming in Detroit. “It’s a massive step for our program for player advancement and exposure. Michigan Hockey Advancement is focused on doing what’s best for our players. Giving our players the opportunity to take their exposure to another level and helping them through the process of advancement in getting to the next level is our main goal. Joining with TPE helps us accomplish that.”
Players will be able to build profile that will have their data. They will be able to send that data, along with videos to both college and junior coaches. All of this will be included in their current tuition as well. During a time when travel for some coaches and scouts may be difficult, this is an excellent opportunity for players to be seen.
“As a former junior coach, I have always thought that some of the best hidden gems came from Michigan high school hockey,” said John Becanic, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of TPE. “With the MHA including TPE as part of their program, hopefully we can help uncover some of these gems and bring them to the forefront. With the ability to connect and share their shift video directly with junior and college coaches, exposure will no longer be an issue for these players.”
As the game continues to change and evolve, MHA continues to lead in a rapidly changing environment. By including TPE, it shows the commitment MHA has to its players.
“The game itself is already fast changing and evolving, and now with the pandemic, it’s really changed things, said Gadwa. “It’s expedited virtual recruiting. This is just another step we’re taking to stay current and make sure we’re doing everything we can for our players.”
Learn more about The Prospect Exchange here.
Learn more about Michigan Hockey Advancement here.