Total Package Hockey is pleased to announce the opening of its fifth Center of Excellence in Grand Rapids, Mich.  Grand Rapids will join Bloomfield Township as the second CoE in the state of Michigan, and will be housed inside Southside Ice Arena in Byron Center, a southern suburb of Grand Rapids.

TPH will enter into a partnership with Southside Ice Arena and its co-owners Travis Richards and Mike Slobodnik.  Both Richards and Slobodnik bring extensive hockey backgrounds to the TPH family. The two serve as coaches and leaders of the Fox Motors Hockey Club, a Tier I and Tier II organization they founded in 2013 that features 29 teams from the mite through midget age groups.

“Grand Rapids is a terrific location for a Center of Excellence,” TPH Chief Operating Officer Nathan Bowen said.  “The venue is exceptional, the location is populated with rising hockey talent and our partners share our values.  Both Travis and Mike have great passion for mentoring student-athletes. They are the definition of what it means to be fully ‘invested’ in what they do. We couldn’t be happier about this announcement.”

Built in 1996, Southside Ice Arena is a two-sheet facility located 13 miles south of downtown Grand Rapids. In 2013, the facility underwent a $1 million renovation. The venue will feature a newly constructed classroom (equipped with up to three different learning spaces), a recently renovated off-ice training center, ample locker room space and on-site dining facilities. The Grand Rapids CoE will allow student-athletes to Study, Train and Play all under one roof, maximizing each individual’s hockey, athletic and academic development.

Partners Richards and Slobodnik have not only spent most of their adult life working in and around the game of hockey, but they have established roots in the Grand Rapids area. Slobodnik, a Grand Rapids native, currently coaches at both the pee wee major level for Fox Motors and at the high school level for Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Slobodnik brings 20 years of youth, high school and junior playing experience to TPH, and he has also coached at five USA Hockey national camps.

Richards played ten seasons for the Grand Rapids Griffins and holds the record for most career games with the franchise at 655. Following his retirement, his No. 24 was raised to rafters of Van Andel Arena, becoming the first Griff to enjoy such an accomplishment. Travis brings a lifetime of dedication to the game of hockey, which also includes four seasons as a member of his hometown University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Richards and Slobodnik both believe the Grand Rapids market as a whole is ready to offer an ‘academy-style’ model for its hockey players and feel fortunate to have their venue house the Center of Excellence.

“Both Mike and I are deeply passionate about the growth and development of the hockey players involved in all programs at Southside Ice Arena,” Richards said. “The CoE model will provide the ultimate development opportunity for local players who have a desire to be the best they can be on the ice, in the gym and most importantly, in the classroom. Mike and I take great pride in doing things the right way and giving our best to shape young kids into young men through the game of ice hockey. Hockey is who I am; it is where I made almost all my friends. My goal is to share my wonderful experiences with as many kids as possible. The CoE model provides us with yet another avenue to do that.”

For Mike Slobodnik, “classroom” and the commitment to the academic portion of the CoE model is what he found most impressive when learning about the CoE. Slobodnik believes TPH’s commitment to academics is what prospective student-athletes and their families will appreciate most.

“TPH’s reputation for developing hockey players is extremely positive and well-known throughout the hockey community,” Slobodnik said. “Nathan Bowen and his team didn’t have to do much to convince us that their training methods are cutting edge and transferrable to today’s game. What impressed Travis and I most is that so many of our questions about the academic side of the CoE model were answered in the early stages, without us even having to ask. TPH has invested many resources to ensure that its student-athletes are getting an academic experience that prepares each individual so that he or will be successful in college and in life. They love answering the tough questions about academics and we are excited to put the TPH team in front of our families so they can show our market just how committed they are to the academic experience at the Center of Excellence.”

Brandon Naurato is the director of player development for all of TPH; he founded TPH’s first Center of Excellence in Canton, Mich. in 2014. Naurato, who also serves as a player development consultant for the Detroit Red Wings, takes great pride in the “positive reputation” Slobodnik references, he and believes Grand Rapids is an emerging market – one that fits perfectly in TPH’s Michigan blueprint.

“Grand Rapids is on the rise as a hockey market,” Naurato said. “Travis, Mike and the Fox Motors group are building their hockey program the right way, no different than how we have tried to approach the growth of the CoE model over the past five years.”

In addition, Naurato also hopes TPH’s track record for player advancement will excite dedicated hockey players in the Grand Rapids market.

“The Center of Excellence model alone has produced four NHL draft picks, 33 NCAA Division I commitments and over 60 USHL and NAHL players,” Naurato added.  “This has been accomplished because of the hockey, academic and social environments we have tried to foster, and most importantly, because of the passion and commitment shown by the student-athletes.  The bottom line is it’s their stage. We just try and help them dance. Travis, Mike and the staff we hire on the ground in Grand Rapids will be totally committed to positively impacting the lives of student-athletes.”

With the 2019-2020 school year right around the corner, TPH will be hosting an open house for interested student-athletes and their families on Jan. 9 and 10 at Southside Ice Arena.  For more information on the Center of Excellence model and the upcoming orientation, please visit the links below.


Total Package Hockey is proud to announce that Joel Kwiatkowski has joined the staff of the new Center of Excellence in Grand Rapids, Mich., as the program’s first Director of Hockey.

Kwiatkowski brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the new staff for the GR CoE as an 18-year professional hockey player, a coach and a hockey parent.

“What drew me to TPH was thinking about how great this would have been for me when I was growing up,” Kwiatkowski said. “To have a situation where you can work on your education and your hockey skills each and every day, with people right there alongside you to help you both on and off the ice, it’s a tremendous opportunity for kids in West Michigan. We have such a great community here, and I’m incredibly excited to start this new chapter at Southside Ice Arena as a coach and a mentor for our future CoE student-athletes.”

Kwiatkowski, a native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was a draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 1996. He appeared in 282 National Hockey League games over the course of seven seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers. Kwiatkowski competed in the Western Hockey League, the American Hockey League, the International Hockey League and the highest professional leagues in Switzerland and Sweden. He played in more than 1,000 professional hockey games over the course of his career.

Two of those seasons took place in Grand Rapids, as he played for the Griffins during their last season with the IHL in 2000-01 and their first season with the AHL in 2001-02.

During that time, he built ties to West Michigan, and a relationship with Southside Ice Arena co-owner and TPH GR partner Travis Richards.

“Joel was a tremendous teammate during our time together in Grand Rapids,” said Richards, still the only player to have his number retired by the Griffins. “He has a great knowledge of the game and a passion for teaching and helping players. We couldn’t be more excited to have him joining us as we begin the Center of Excellence for the next school year.

“We are very excited to officially add him to our TPH GR team- he will be a great leader and role model for our kids.”

Following his retirement from professional hockey, Kwiatkowski and his family returned to West Michigan. He accepted an assistant coach position with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL while also joining the Fox Motors Hockey Club as an assistant coach.

“I’ve gotten to know Joel over the last few seasons through our Fox Motors Hockey Club, and I’ve been impressed by how he conducts himself at the rink as a coach and a parent,” said Mike Slobodnik,” Southside Ice Arena co-owner and TPH GR partner alongside Richards. “The TPH CoE model is here to help young student-athletes develop into good people, not just hockey players. With Joel, we know that these students will not only be improving crucial hockey skills on a day-in, day-out basis, but that they will be learning how to be leaders and students and good teammates and friends at the same time.”

TPH Grand Rapids invites all interested families to meet Joel Kwiatkowski and other members of the team at our upcoming open house on Tuesday, March 19 at 7 PM at Southside Ice Arena.  To RSVP and secure your spot for the open house, please click here.

If you’re ready to apply to the Grand Rapids CoE, we invite you to click here and start the registration process.

About Total Package Hockey: Founded in 2001, it is TPH’s vision to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through the game of hockey. Through academics, mentorship and athletics, TPH prides itself on operating at a standard that exceeds expectations of student-athletes, families, coaches, advisors and all other entities of the hockey world. With platforms that include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, Total Package Hockey has assisted in the academic, athletic and hockey development of over 600 players who have advanced to junior, collegiate and professional hockey. Since inception, 45 #TPHTrained student-athletes have been selected in the NHL Draft, while 280 have committed to the NCAA level – 189 of which are Division I. In addition, 99 players have been selected in the OHL Priority Selection and 353 have signed tenders or been drafted in the USHL and NAHL. While TPH is proud of its student-athletes who have achieved success on-the ice, it is the process of developing young men and women as people, first and foremost, that our world-class team of coaches and mentors take the most amount of pride in. While it is our responsibility to prepare each individual for success on the ice, it is our mission to prepare each and every individual for success in the ultimate game – the game of life! To learn more about TPH, visit www.totalpackagehockey.com.


Total Package Hockey is proud to announce the additions of Kyle Gagneau and Joe Messina to the growing team at our new Center of Excellence in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Gagneau will be the GR CoE’s strength and conditioning coach, while Messina is the new director of goaltender development for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.

“We are very excited to welcome both Kyle and Joe to the TPH team in Grand Rapids,” said Joel Kwiatkowski, the director of hockey for TPH Grand Rapids. “They both bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the West Michigan hockey community to our core group of leadership, and we know they will do great things with our inaugural class of student-athletes.”

To apply for the GR CoE, click here

About Gagneau

Gagneau brings 12 years of experience in the fitness industry to TPH. A lifelong hockey player himself, Gagneau holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. HE is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Gagneau has also earned performance enhancement, corrective exercise and fitness nutrition specializations from NASM to better serve his athletes and clients.

About Messina

Messina is currently the vice president of operations for Bandits Goalie School. A Shattuck St. Mary’s and SUNY Brockport (NCAA Division III) product, he oversees goaltending for numerous programs in Grand Rapids, including the Fox Motors Hockey Club and ACHA programs Davenport University, Aquinas College and Calvin College, among others.

About Total Package Hockey: Founded in 2001, it is TPH’s vision to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through the game of hockey. Through academics, mentorship and athletics, TPH prides itself on operating at a standard that exceeds expectations of student-athletes, families, coaches, advisors and all other entities of the hockey world. With platforms that include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, Total Package Hockey has assisted in the academic, athletic and hockey development of over 600 players who have advanced to junior, collegiate and professional hockey. Since inception, 45 #TPHTrained student-athletes have been selected in the NHL Draft, while 280 have committed to the NCAA level – 189 of which are Division I. In addition, 99 players have been selected in the OHL Priority Selection and 353 have signed tenders or been drafted in the USHL and NAHL. While TPH is proud of its student-athletes who have achieved success on-the ice, it is the process of developing young men and women as people, first and foremost, that our world-class team of coaches and mentors take the most amount of pride in. While it is our responsibility to prepare each individual for success on the ice, it is our mission to prepare each and every individual for success in the ultimate game – the game of life! To learn more about TPH, visit www.totalpackagehockey.com


Total Package Hockey is pleased to announce that Leah Sarnicola, current Director of Academics for the TPH Center of Excellence at RISE Prep in Nashville, TN, will be relocating north to her hometown of Grand Rapids, MI following the 2018-2019 school year, to take on the same role in the TPH-Grand Rapids Center of Excellence, which will open its doors in August of 2019.

“Appointing Leah to become our first Director of Academics for the Grand Rapids CoE is a huge win on a number of levels,” TPH Chief Academic Officer Bill Simms said.  “Leah and RISE Prep Headmaster Brad Guzda have done a fantastic job fostering a disciplined, structured academic culture in Nashville that is consistent with The TPH Way.  Leah will bring that same level of focus and passion for student-success with her to Grand Rapids so our student-athletes in GR have every opportunity to Study to their potential.  Academics have and will always be priority number one in our Center of Excellence model.  Putting a leader in place of Leah’s character and knowledge solidifies that.”

The Grand Rapids native has spent the past four years in Nashville, mentoring students at the TPH Center of Excellence at RISE Prep.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Grand Valley State University.  Leah went on to receive her Master’s in Business Administration from Tennessee State University and has an extensive background in teaching Spanish as well as instructing within ESL programs, which is comprised of coursework designed to help students and adults who are looking to learn English as a second language and acclimate successfully to different environments/cultures.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to move to Grand Rapids, a place I love and call home,” Sarnicola said.  “But what I am most looking forward to is the chance to take my four years of experience from Nashville and help create an academic culture student-athletes, families, and the Grand Rapids community will be proud of.”

Sarnicola went on to add:

“I want to thank Brad Guzda, Keith Rowe, and all of the wonderful young men and women I have had the pleasure to build relationships with during my time in Nashville.  I will always hold the people and experiences from Nashville deep in my heart.”

About Total Package Hockey: Founded in 2001, it is TPH’s vision to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through the game of hockey. Through academics, mentorship and athletics, TPH prides itself on operating at a standard that exceeds expectations of student-athletes, families, coaches, advisors and all other entities of the hockey world. With platforms that include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, Total Package Hockey has assisted in the academic, athletic and hockey development of over 600 players who have advanced to junior, collegiate and professional hockey. Since inception, 45 #TPHTrained student-athletes have been selected in the NHL Draft, while 280 have committed to the NCAA level – 189 of which are Division I. In addition, 99 players have been selected in the OHL Priority Selection and 353 have signed tenders or been drafted in the USHL and NAHL. While TPH is proud of its student-athletes who have achieved success on-the ice, it is the process of developing young men and women as people, first and foremost, that our world-class team of coaches and mentors take the most amount of pride in. While it is our responsibility to prepare each individual for success on the ice, it is our mission to prepare each and every individual for success in the ultimate game – the game of life! To learn more about TPH, visit www.totalpackagehockey.com.


Total Package Hockey is proud to announce the additions of Kory Karlander and David Van Drunen to the Grand Rapids Center of Excellence for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.

In their new roles of player development coaches and mentors, the two bring a combined 32 years of professional hockey playing experience to the growing staff at the new CoE at the Southside Ice Arena on Michigan’s west side.

“Both Kory and David have a passion for helping the next generation of hockey players, and we’re excited to have them join our team for our inaugural school year,” said TPH GR director of hockey Joel Kwiatkowski. “From playing such extensive professional careers and now both coaching in the youth ranks, they know from experience what it takes to reach the highest levels of hockey, and how to communicate those lessons to our young student-athletes.”

Karlander, a co-hockey director for the Fox Motors Hockey Club, coaches two youth teams after a 18-year professional hockey career. A Northern Michigan alum, Karlander played for the Grand Rapids Griffins in five different seasons, and seven seasons with the Kalamazoo Wings. He served as an assistant captain for the Wings from 2005-13 before retiring from professional hockey.

Other hockey stops for Karlander included the Detroit Vipers (IHL) and two years with the Belfast Giants in the British Ice Hockey Superleague.

Van Drunen, a coach of Fox Motors midget teams, played for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL for junior hockey before embarking on a 14-year professional career that brought him to Michigan.

He played five seasons for the Griffins, and four for the Muskegon Fury, before concluding his career with the Odessa Jackalopes in 2010-11.

Along the way, Van Drunen also played for the Detroit Vipers and the Saginaw Gears as he made his way around the Great Lakes State.

Both work for the Southside Ice Arena, extending their roots in the Grand Rapids hockey community.

For more information about the TPH Center of Excellence in Grand Rapids, click here.

 

About Total Package Hockey: Founded in 2001, it is TPH’s vision to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through the game of hockey. Through academics, mentorship and athletics, TPH prides itself on operating at a standard that exceeds expectations of student-athletes, families, coaches, advisors and all other entities of the hockey world. With platforms that include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, Total Package Hockey has assisted in the academic, athletic and hockey development of over 600 players who have advanced to junior, collegiate and professional hockey. Since inception, 45 #TPHTrained student-athletes have been selected in the NHL Draft, while 280 have committed to the NCAA level – 189 of which are Division I. In addition, 99 players have been selected in the OHL Priority Selection and 353 have signed tenders or been drafted in the USHL and NAHL. While TPH is proud of its student-athletes who have achieved success on-the ice, it is the process of developing young men and women as people, first and foremost, that our world-class team of coaches and mentors take the most amount of pride in. While it is our responsibility to prepare each individual for success on the ice, it is our mission to prepare each and every individual for success in the ultimate game – the game of life! To learn more about TPH, visit www.totalpackagehockey.com.


Wow, June is already here!  I hope everyone is enjoying their summers.  Players, I hope that while you are enjoying some down time, you are training hard for the upcoming season.

I am really excited to share this update with you all!  Have a look at the photos below.  We have completed the construction of the academic wing at our Center of Excellence at Southside Ice Arena here in Grand Rapids.  While we are currently in the process of furnishing and branding our academic setup, construction is complete and the space looks fantastic.

Once complete, the TPH-Grand Rapids CoE academic setup will feature 3-4 different learning spaces, allowing us to customize the learning experience and put each individual in an environment where he or she learns best.  The space will feature a traditional, rectangle-style classroom area, high top tables for active learners, comfortable chairs for students who learn best in a relaxed environment and independent study spaces for students who value quiet and privacy.  Individualizing and customizing the learning experience is the name of the game with the CoE model.  I know our Director of Academics Leah Sarnicola is super-excited to take charge of this space and foster a culture that promotes discipline, structure and most importantly, academic performance.

If you are interested in the Center of Excellence for the 2019-2020 school year, please feel free to reach out to me at any time and we can arrange a day and time to have a conversation either over the phone, or on-site at the CoE.  If you’re ready to take the first formal step towards securing your space at the CoE, please visit the link below to apply and reserve your spot.