Colton Aikens is developing into a life champion.
That’s fitting because that is what the Prairie Hockey Academy, where Aikens plays, is about. Aikens says PHA is not just about “becoming a better hockey player, but men and life champions.”
PHA’s slogan is ‘Using the power of hockey to develop Life Champions.’
Aikens grew up in Briercrest, Sask., is a strong student, averaging 95 per cent, a multi-sport athlete, including playing for Saskatchewan’s provincial under-18 rugby team, and loves learning life lessons by helping others.
Hitting the books is important for the 16-year-old, who wants to earn a university scholarship to play hockey and like most kids, dreams to play in the NHL.
“It helps me in hockey as well,” said Aikens, in his third CSSHL season, of doing well academically. “Say you are doing well off the ice, it kind of makes you do well on the ice. If you do bad off the ice, you are not going to be the best on the ice.”
Aikens makes sure to get an hour of study time a day. That helps him be prepared for classes. It also releases the stress on hockey.
“I can just go and play. Play the sport I love,” said Aikens, a forward, who also helps his team as a defenceman when needed.
Living in a dorm, students have a mandatory study period. However, if the students meet their goals set at the start, they don’t have to go to it.
“It’s kind of like a reward,” said Aikens, whose favourite subjects are math and science.
Aikens started his CSSHL career in B.C. with Shawnigan Lake School. He has seen the improvement in his skills since joining. Playing in the league played a part into adding another sport to Aikens’ athletic resume, that includes school sports such as lacrosse, badminton and volleyball. At Shawnigan Lake School, Aikens learned to play rugby. It is mandatory for Grade 9 students to play the sport in the first semester.
“I just got kind of hooked after a couple of practices. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Put on the spot, Aikens was asked if he was a better hockey or rugby player.
“I’m a more skilled hockey player, but I have played since I was four. I have gone to summer camps,” he said. “Rugby, I was able to learn fast, but learned it three years ago. It was difficult.”
The two work hand-in-hand for Aikens to keep him in shape. The work he does with PHA helps him for rugby tournaments, including Canadian identification camps.
Rugby has brought something else to the kid that grew up on a farm – meeting more people and traveling the globe. In April, as long as his broken hand heals in time, he will join the provincial team in Orlando for a Tropical 7s tournament.
With Saskatchewan Rugby, he has been to Las Vegas, Paris and Nicaragua, and the team has been able to see what each place is like. In Nicaragua, they were able to help out at orphanages. Traveling has opened Aikens’ eyes to how people live. Each of the 16 players filled five hockey bags with school supplies, clothes, toothbrushes and toys as well as rugby equipment. They handed them out to kids at schools in villages.
“It was really amazing actually. Just the feeling of fullness and unselfishness,” he said. “You don’t really need the things that you want.”