WHAT sets a prep hockey program apart is it is run in a school setting, involves a lot of travel to highly scouted events and offers players a wide range of personal-development elements.
Linked to academic performance, prep programs offer personal training, nutrition counselling, skills instruction and elite competition in exhibition games and tournaments that are usually out-of-province or in the U.S.
Tournaments are often referred to as "showcase," as they involve teams from various regions and are heavily scouted by colleges and universities.
It's high visibility that comes at a high price.
Balmoral Hall and St. Mary's are private girls' schools at which players pay tuition on top of hockey fees. Shaftesbury High School is a public school. Surprisingly, the hockey programs at the two private schools and Shaftesbury are in the same neighbourhood on cost.
This year, Balmoral Hall Blazers student/prep hockey players are paying about $17,000 (hockey and tuition combined), the St. Mary's Flames about $14,000 and Shaftesbury Titans prep players are paying about $12,000.
By contrast, it costs players about $5,000 to $7,000 to play in the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League, where top teams provide similar personal training and showcase-tournament travel opportunities. These are regional teams where players attend schools in their community.