NSH Classroom

Center of Excellence Provides Off-Ice Team Building in Nashville

A big part of team-building at any level happens off the ice when players can eat and spend time together. Unfortunately, that was a little more difficult to do this season, but the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Nashville provided a great opportunity for teammates to be around each other in a safe, encouraging environment. Teammates were able to bond while studying and participating in off-ice workouts. Without the CoE, the result of the regular season could have been a little different.

“It has become a great substitute where it’s usually a great accompaniment,” said Steve Jennings “The Center of Excellence has become the substitute for bonding. We have kids that have found a home at the CoE in terms of taking classes and being social. The culture is built when they are working with each other and pushing each other to be better. It’s given them that family tie and that family connection which is great. It’s been great to see these guys find a way to come together.”

What makes the CoE so special is that teammates are in class together, pushing each other to be better all the time. That filters over to training, workouts, practice and games. In an environment that fully supports an athlete’s ability to study, train and play, success will come where there’s hard work. The players being around each other at the CoE helped them form those bonds that were missing because they couldn’t always be together outside of hockey.

“We weren’t able to do as much of those team bonding things we usually do, but since we all go to the Center of Excellence, we see each other every day,” said Hayden Nichol. “We see each other at the rink and a lot than if we didn’t have the CoE. With everything the CoE has given us, we still have those team bonding experiences at school.”

Being at the CoE has been a new experience for Kal Essenmacher. A member of the Nashville Jr. Predators 16U AAA boys team, Essenmacher transitioned to the CoE this season after attending public high school.

The new experience has been refreshing for him and has helped him build chemistry with his teammates that are also heading to nationals.

“I’ve enjoyed being able to be with all my teammates while at school,” said Essenmacher.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before and it’s helped my chemistry with my teammates. The CoE experience has been fantastic. During school days we’re all together at the Center of Excellence, so we’re able to talk during breaks and be active together. We’re also active before and after practices to make sure that team chemistry stays high. It’s a great experience for all of us to be together basically the whole day.”

Learn more about how the CoE provides athletes an excellent balance of academics and athletics.

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