A new initiative from Huskie Athletics is slated to launch this summer when the Huskie Development Academy gets underway.

A first of its kind in Western Canada undertaking from Huskie Athletics, the Huskie Development Academy is initially launching as a hockey-based program and offers the youth community of Saskatoon a number of different options to further develop athletic skills both on and off the ice.

“With the new facility at Merlis Belsher Place there was an opportunity to create more programming to help the development of young athletes in the surrounding area,” said assistant coach of Huskie men’s hockey and manager of the Huskie Development Academy Mark Peterson. “Utilizing the wealth of knowledge on campus here at the university will allow us to differentiate ourselves from existing programming. An example of this is that all members of our fall programs will have access to the brand-new Huskie Health Centre.”

Integrated within the university community, the Huskie Development Academy will initially launch four new programs: a summer three-on-three league, the Dog Club, Academy Lite and Academy.

Launching July 27, the three-on-three league will offer divisions all the way from Initiation to Midget age levels. With games being played Sunday – Thursday, minus a few exceptions, all teams will get 12 games of action as well as a jersey for each player.

In the Fall, a trio of programs will get underway that run from September 3 through April 30.

“The goal of our Fall programs is to supplement the growth that players are experiencing through their minor hockey teams,” said Peterson. “These programs will focus on both education and skill development.”

For players in the Novice and Atom age groups, the Dog Club will feature a pair of one hour-long on-ice skill sessions per week.

Academy Lite will also offer participants two one-hour long on-ice sessions per week, as well as two one-hour off-ice training sessions being run through the Human Performance Centre. Academy Lite will be offered for the Pee Wee though Midget age groups.

Finally, there will be the Academy, a program that runs in the afternoon on school days four days per week. The Academy will blend on-ice and off-ice training with other unique daily activities through various partnerships in the university community. The Academy is open only to students in grades seven through ten and athletes in the Academy will attend the FLEX Program at City Park School.

All of these programs are open to both male and female participants and offer prospective athletes an inside look at the Huskie experience while developing as both a person and as a player.

“Hockey is the fast growing sport on the female side in North America so we have to make sure that we are developing players the right way,” said Huskie women’s hockey head coach Steve Kook. “Exposure to the Huskie program for these players is a side-benefit for sure, but in the long run the idea is that we are going to develop players, whether they end up with the Huskies, with another U SPORTS program or down south in the NCAA, our goal is to make sure that we develop players.”

An open house with the manager of the Huskie Development Academy, Mark Peterson, will happen at 6:30 p.m. on May 14 at Smuker’s Lounge inside Merlis Belsher Place.