Jr. Kings think big with Education, Development Center

Seeing is believing.

Just ask the Los Angeles Jr. Kings organization, which recently cut the ribbon on its newly architected Education and Development Center.

Aptly nicknamed “The Incubator,” the room, which is located inside El Segundo’s Toyota Sports Center (TSC) - home of the Jr. Kings - houses a 65-inch HD television monitor with large-screen projector capabilities, along with high-speed Internet, game-review software and a virtual library of video archives.

Those within the club have no doubt the project, which will service the entire program, will take the Jr. Kings to a whole new level, both on the ice and in the classroom.

“Making an investment towards a dedicated room like this can’t help but separate us from other minor hockey programs,” said Barry Dreger, an assistant coach on the Jr. Kings’ Midget 18U AAA and 16U AAA Major teams.

And not only in terms of building smarter, savvier hockey players, but also helping every one of them thrive in their academic endeavors.

“A lot of parents and players have inquired about creating a space in the rink for the kids to study, and this room does just that,” said Dreger. “It’ll be a huge improvement from studying in the dressing room.”

Video is oftentimes an overlooked but critical learning tool at the younger levels. Every NHL team has a full-time video coach on staff and assistants, Dreger notes, and, in addition to their exceptional skill and work ethic, those players who have reached the highest level of the game have done so through video analysis.

“They’re what we call students of the game,” said Dreger.

The Jr. Kings don’t need to look far for proof. The Los Angeles Kings, who practice at TSC, have won two of the last three Stanley Cups in part because of their systematic attention to detail, says Dreger, and it’s not by accident.

“The most successful teams are the ones that execute better, and it’s through studying video and sharing what they see that’s helped them develop complete players and teams,” said Dreger.

As the Jr. Kings continue to build synergy throughout the program, the use of video will only help bring more unity throughout the organization. 

The room will not only benefit the organization’s Tier I teams; its AA clubs on down the line to their in-house program will also take full advantage of the added technology.

“It’ll allow our coaches to meet and discuss our program’s direction, and that’ll aid in our players’ development,” said Dreger. “If we can determine the age-appropriate skills and then teach and strengthen those skills, we feel that wins and losses will take care of themselves.

“Our AAA coaching committee will be able to mentor all the coaches in our program, too, through the use of our video library,” said Dreger. “Our goal is to strengthen our coaches at all levels so every player has the opportunity to learn properly.”

Kelly Sorensen, the Jr. Kings’ executive director, says the room is another step in the right direction as it relates to bringing the program together on one charted course.

“It gratifies me to see our kids benefit from a group of diverse, open-minded coaches who’ve embraced a collaborative and interpersonal development mindset,” said Sorensen.

“We’ve established an environment and culture here where everyone is being held accountable for their own development, and we’re not only witnessing that with our players, but from our administrators and coaches as well. 

“I like where we are and where we’re heading.”