Okanagan Hockey Academy Europe Represents Austria
This past week, the Lower Austrian International School was proud to see representation on an international stage, as students Marco Richter, Albert Krammer, and L.A. Stars Head Coach and L.A.I.S. teacher Jason O'Leary represented Austria at the 2012 Under 18 Division 1B World Championships in Szekefehrhevar, Hungary.
The Bronze medal winning Austrians finished with a 3-2 record, losing only to Belarus and Kazakhstan, who finished with the Gold and Silver, respectively.
This is not the first time this season that the Lower Austrian International School has been represented on an international stage: Nikolaus Kraus also participated in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, a competition that will take place every four years. This year, the event was held in Innsbruck, and Kraus was part of an Austrian team that competed against Canada, Russia, Finland, and USA. Fellow students Raphael Ungar (Austria), Richard Albrecht (Mexico), Nikola Lazarevic, Uglesja Novakovic, and Stefan Boskovic (Serbia) also participated at the World Championship level, while several other Academy students have participated in International games with their home country at the younger levels.
This was the first time Academy Head Coach O'Leary represented Austria, a challenge that O'Leary says he was very excited for. With his role as a teacher alongside of the Head Coach for the Academy, O'Leary has been here since the Academy inception, and is very pleased with the development of the program. "I think that we as a group represented the school, academy, but more importantly Austria very well. You can see the positive additions everywhere in the National programs around Europe.
Our players are becoming great contributors and representatives on international stages. I was extremely honoured and proud to accept any position within the National program, but I was really excited to get
the opportunity to be the Head Coach. Austria has a lot of great potential within European hockey, and our players are proving developmentally that they are as good, and in some cases better, than many their age." He also was clear in underlining the success of the team. "As Head Coach, I was initially in charge of final player selection, but I instead allowed our entire National Team staff the chance to have their say on each and every player. I wanted them to be a part of what we were doing, and it allowed us all to pick the team we felt would best represent Austria. It is an extension of the work we try to do here in St. Polten: that character, hard-work, trust and discipline with be paramount in the success of the athlete. Ultimately,
those cornerstones were the reason we played so well as the tournament went on, and I am very proud of how all of our players responded to that type of ownership and responsibility."
As Head Coach and teacher of the Academy, O'Leary also noted that on the National team that won Bronze, there were five players that have been a part of the Academy directly, but also five others who have attended hockey schools or sought out development assistance from the Academy, a tribute to what the program is bringing to Austria. "We really are here for the kids... and it is showing. There is no ulterior motive, no pro team we are looking to supplement: we are here to allow kids the chance to combine Athletics and Academics in an environment that is conducive to success in both. The success of all of these student-athletes shows that."
Jason O'Leary, Head Coach
Lower Austrian Stars Hockey Club
Okanagan Hockey Academy Europe
Dr. Adolf Scharf Strasse 25
St. Polten, Austria A-3100