CSSHL Program Profile: Northern Alberta Xtreme

“Providing a supportive learning environment that strives for excellence in academics and athletics.”

The Northern Alberta Xtreme (NAX) joined the CSSHL in the 2015-16 season and currently, the Devon, Alta. area program has expanded to its present-day stage of five teams.

2020-21 Teams:
U18 Prep
Female U18 Prep
U16 Prep
U15 Prep


Partner School (Grades 10-12): John Maland High School
Partner School (Grade 8-9): Riverview Junior High School

What are some of the things your program does to provide educational support?

“Our student-athletes integrate into classes with the rest of the regular school population at both John Maland High School and Riverview Middle School. To ensure education does not get lost in the background, NAX employs an Academic Director, Paula Smith, who works to ensure that both the long-term and short-term academic planning for our student-athletes is properly organized. Relatively small class sizes (average class size is 24 students), strong and supportive teachers, and teachers who travel on the road with our teams ensure our student-athletes receive plenty of quality instruction from their teachers. While traveling, study halls are scheduled daily to ensure our student-athletes have time to make up for missed class time. All team practices and game schedules work specifically with the educational commitments and expectations of our student-athletes and it is our expectation that all teams within our program be finished their daily routines (school and hockey) by 5:30pm each day; thereby, allowing student-athletes some much needed time for proper rest and the ability to maintain a ‘LIFE’ away from the rink.”

How are grades monitored and how often?

“Our coaches communicate every week with both teachers and the student-athletes themselves to ensure the student-athlete is continuing to excel to their highest level in the classroom. Our Director of Academics also ensures that each of our athletes is on top of their academics by regularly monitoring and communicating with teachers and students.”

How are courses and the graduation path for student athletes chosen?

“Academic Director Paula Smith sits down with each and every student-athlete when they join the program to map out a graduation plan specific to that student-athletes needs and goals. John Maland High School is also recognized as an official SAT Test Writing Center.”

Do you have an academic probation policy?

“NAX works efficiently to track the progress of our student-athletes in all of their classes. We do not ask our student-athletes to reach or maintain a specific overall grade average. Instead we expect and require them to meet or exceed their academic standard to the best of their ability. A failure to do so results in missed practices or games until the student-athlete meets their individual standards.”


Do you offer a billeting program or a dormitory for non-local student athletes?

“Our billet program is designed to copy that of many of the top junior teams in Alberta. Student-athletes requiring billets are encouraged to stay with family or friends if possible, but we understand this isn’t always an option. If a student-athlete does not have family or friends to stay with, we help set them up with one of our host-families, allowing both parties to meet and decide whether it will be a good fit before any commitments are made. It is important to us that both the student-athlete, their family, and the host-family all feel comfortable in the situation.”

What kind of life skills to the student athletes learn by living with billets?

“As our student-athletes progress to Junior/University, staying at home is often no longer an option and billeting or dorm rooms are required. Our billet program allows our student-athletes the ability to prepare for these challenges at a younger age, while their support system is still strong. Our student-athletes learn respect for others and their homes, independence, how to operate in a new environment, and the importance of family and structure. Our student-athletes also build lifelong connections with their billet families.”


How are injuries and sick student athletes monitored?

“University of Alberta Sport Performance Coach and Rehabilitation Specialist Matt Yaworski is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Certified Athletic Therapist. He is present at our facilities every week and either works with our student-athletes or directs them to the appropriate specialist based on his assessment. The program employs Nicole Wlasichuk (Certified EMR and a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology) to handle all game day, and day to day training needs.”


What does the daily schedule look like for an NAX student athlete?

“Our student athletes practice Monday to Friday (travel dependent) at River Cree (male) and Dale Fischer Arena (female). After practice our student-athletes are transported to school where they train with Barry Butt and his Premier Strength staff. Our student-athletes then participate in the academic portion of their schedule at school in the afternoons. At the conclusion of classes our student-athletes are provided transportation to central drop off locations, with a goal to have them home for dinner and evenings with their families or host-families.”

How many games can your teams expect to play?

“Our teams play 45-55 games a season, which includes the CSSHL regular season and Championships, exhibition games and tournaments.”

What does the on and off ice training look like?

“NAX incorporates a variety of technical skills coaches, along with each team coaching staff, to assist with player development in the program. Practices are set up in advance to ensure an even balance between individual skills training (skating, shooting, passing, etc.) and team structure (systems, concepts, etc.) to ensure our student-athletes can achieve both individual and team success and growth. Off ice, each team works closely with the program’s strength and conditioning coach, as well as various other off ice seminars such as video work, mental training and nutrition.”


Who are some of the key staff at NAX?

  • Program
    • Jason Stewart – Owner/Program Director
    • Tyrel Spitzer- Hockey Operations
    • Jordan Martin –Marketing & Communications Coordinator
  • Education
    • Paula Smith – Academic Director
  • Development Staff
    • Allen York – Goalie Coach
      • Former Columbus Blue Jacket
    • Brian Shackel – Skating Coach
    • Dave Rathjen – Goalie Coach
      • Current Goalie Coach for the Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
    • Jason Strudwick – Technical Development Coach
      • Former New York Islander, Vancouver Canuck, Chicago Blackhawk, New York Ranger, and Edmonton Oiler
    • Paul Manning – Technical Development Coach
      • Former Columbus Blue Jacket
    • Rob Brown – Skill Development Coach
      • Former Pittsburg Penguin, Hartford Whaler, Chicago Blackhawk, Dallas Star and Los Angeles King
  • Coaching Staff
    • Matt Tassone- U18 Prep Head Coach
    • Tyrel Spitzer – Female U18 Prep Coach
    • Brayden Toma – U16 Head Coach
    • Steve March – U15 Prep Head Coach
    • Kane Lafranchise – U15 Varsity Coach
  • Mental and Physical Development
    • Barry Butt- Strength and Conditioning Coach
    • Matt Yaworski – Athletic Therapist
    • Nicole Wlasichuk – Head Trainer



What is included in the price to attend the NAX?

“Our cost for the season is $22,000 plus GST. This includes games, practices, tournaments, all travel related costs, and apparel and equipment such as gloves, helmets, pant shells, and bags. As not all of our student-athletes require billets, this is a separate cost between the host-family and student-athletes family (on average $300-$500 a month).”


What is the best way to contact NAX?

Website: https://www.naxhockey.com/
Email: jstewart@naxhockey.com