As school districts began making plans to return to in-person instruction, the parents of Chaparral Ice student-athletes expressed concern about the health and safety of their students, and Ryan Raya, the owner of Chaparral Ice, had an idea.
He imagined a first-of-its-kind, on-site academic program for top student-athletes in the Austin, Texas area that would alleviate parent concerns, maintain the health and safety regulations Chaparral Ice developed over the past year, and provide the flexibility needed by student-athletes.
“We saw an opportunity to begin offering high-level student-athletes with an integrated, on-site education option that would be the best of both worlds,” Ryan says.
As a former college hockey player at Elon University, Ryan knows firsthand the demands of being a student-athlete. It was with those needs in mind that he began conceptualizing Chaparral Ice Academy, an all-in-one program with the flexibility and academic rigor to keep student-athletes at the top of their game educationally.
He pitched the idea to partners who oversee the sports under the Chaparral umbrella, which include hockey, figure skating, curling, and crossover sports like lacrosse and soccer. And Chaparral Ice would be the obvious location for such a program, as it’s been the premiere ice facility in Austin—hosting over 71,000 visitors annually—for over 20 years.
“They all realized the value of trying to create a competitive culture for training in Austin,” says Ryan.
He selected Apex Learning Virtual School (ALVS) as the exclusive education partner for Chaparral Ice Academy after learning about our award-winning virtual school through its partnership with the North American Hockey League. Ryan says he liked the user-friendly features of ALVS, the affordability, and that it’s a trusted provider of NCAA-approved courses, which he says is “a bonus for NA3HL players.”
Chaparral Ice Academy will provide 24/7 access to online courses, which offers its student- athletes the flexibility necessary for them to excel academically as well as athletically. Students will be able complete their schoolwork from anywhere, anytime, and at their own pace, which means they’re not missing classroom time when they travel to games, tournaments, and competitions. Once students complete their required work for a course, their academic year will finish, regardless of when the traditional school year ends.
Academics are key to this robust athletic program. Students can choose from over 100 NCAA-approved core courses which include honors and AP®, as well as a wide selection of world languages, CTE, and other electives.
In addition to the support ALVS provides—including Live Tutor Chat—students will have in-person support to help them succeed in the classroom. The learning lab at Chaparral Ice Academy will be equipped with 60 computers and on-site tech support to help students with any questions they may have as they navigate online learning. This robust learning environment will be available to student-athletes every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Each students’ academic progress will be monitored by their coach within the Academy. Coaches for each sport will make sure that their students stay on track with schoolwork and emphasize to them that academics are as important as athletics.
Depending on their sport, students will train at the ice rinks or turf fields located at Chaparral Ice at The Crossover, a 200,000-square-foot facility in Cedar Park, Texas. Chaparral Ice will not create teams for competition, but instead focus on developing skills that will improve an athlete’s overall performance. Tuition for the Chaparral Ice Academy includes two hours of daily training.
“The academy programs will be skills intensive so that the club teams and private coaches get the best athletes possible,” says Ryan.
Ryan hopes to launch this fall with 20-25 students. Based on the interest in the academy and ALVS from parents who attended this past weekend’s open house at Chaparral Ice, that won’t be a problem.
As Ryan anticipates the upcoming 2021-22 school year, he says he’s most excited about “the opportunity to deliver a high-level and convenient education to our student athletes in a non-traditional way.”
ALVS partners with school districts, sports programs, coaches, and school counselors to ensure academic success for busy student-athletes. For students who dream of participating in a sport while earning their college degree, ALVS provides transcript reviews to make sure they are meeting NCAA eligibility standards. Learn more about how ALVS helps thousands of high school athletes each year.