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Oakland Press News Article

Oakland Press News Article

Manny Legace runs a sports academy that is focused heavily on academics.

Legace, a former Stanley Cup winning goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings, said education comes first at his Wixom-based academy, Detroit Preparatory Sports Academy.

The academy began in 2015 as the Detroit Hockey Academy, which was focused on hockey training paired with an online-based curriculum, which was something unique.

Legace said he started the academy because more young athletes need to have the opportunity to attend college, which meant pairing advanced educational resources with athletic training and instruction for area youth.

“If hockey doesn’t work out for some of these kids they need something to fall back on,” said Legace.

Legace said he has nothing to fall back on when he retired from professional hockey and doesn’t want that to happen to these athletes.

“I was lucky enough to do the things that I did,” said Legace. “I didn’t realize how much education really mattered until I retired from professional hockey and wasn’t able to find a job. I was told, ‘Manny, we can’t hire you. Even though you’re a name, we can’t hire you’.”

Education comes first
“Scott LaVoie, one of the majority owners of Puck Masters Hockey Training in Wixom, and I have been talking about starting an academy for 10 years,” said Legace. “We see this as the future of hockey and growing into more than just a training facility.”

The education side of the academy offers both a public and private online-based education. Legace said the program really allows the athletes to learn how to balance their time between athletics and academics.

Legace said the problem with traditional schools is that many athletes miss school due to games, tournaments and travel. With his academy, school and athletics are paired, which means class is never missed.

When the athletes are on the road, the laptops are open and the education never stops.

“They are still required to do their work,” said Legace. “Just because you miss a Thursday and a Friday because of a game you still have to get your work done. For us, school comes first.”

For Legace, low grades means no ice time for the athletes. If a student gets behind on school work because they want to concentrate more on hockey, that just doesn’t work.

Legace said he has received some push back from parents when the kids are left off the ice for academic reasons but all are told ahead of time that academics comes first.

Legace said traditional schools tend to teach to the middle of the class, which sometimes results in struggling students not getting the attention they need.

The online programs allow the students to learn at their own pace. Legace said it’s been interesting to watch the kids learn and grow both in athletics and academics.

“The kids are coming out of their shells by talking to their teachers and looking for answers instead of just being told the answers,” said Legace.

Need to expand
Legace said with 35 students currently participating in hockey and more expressing interest in other sports, he decided to expand the academy into soccer, baseball, lacrosse, golf and figure skating.

With that expansion, comes the need to move some hockey operations into the Novi Ice Arena three days a week.

“We are still going to use our Wixom facility for school and extra ice but we needed to expand onto bigger ice at least three days a week,” said Legasce. “We have just overgrown the Wixom facility, which has worked great for us these last two years.”

Legace said the expansions into other sports will begin next year, which may bring with it an expansion of all academy operations into the Total Sports Complex in Wixom.