Frequenty Asked Questions

Why Bridgedale Academy?

Answer: Bridgedale Academy is a sports academy, a school for athletes that caters to youth hockey players. Our goal is the development of our student-athletes academically, athletically and as individuals. Bridgedale combines a top-notch classical education with elite on-ice and off-ice athletic training, a combination designed to help our student-athletes realize their full academic, athletic and personal potential. Our mantra is: Training Elite Student-Athletes.

Is Bridgedale Academy is only for Chicago Mission players?

Answer: No, Bridgedale is open to players from all organizations. Although a number of our student-athletes have played or now play for the Chicago Mission while attending Bridgedale, over the years many have also played or now play for CYA, TI and Fury. And many of our students either previously played or now play for Illinois AA clubs, including the Falcons, Hawks, Huskies, Vikings, Admirals, Jets, Cyclones, Blues and Sabres. The common thread that runs through all our Bridgedale Academy families is the desire to have their child earn a competitive advantage through a serious commitment to his development as a youth hockey player.

Does Bridgedale Academy accept transfers during the year?

Answer: Yes, Bridgedale continues to accept transfer students during the course of its school year. Every year so far Bridgedale has welcomed several such transfer students, all of whom have excelled once they adjusted to our rigorous schedule. Anyone interested in learning more about transferring into Bridgedale should contact the Headmaster.

What are the criteria for acceptance into Bridgedale Academy?

Answer: Bridgedale Academy is for serious youth hockey players and criteria for acceptance include:

Personal references from coaches and/or teachers attesting to the student-athlete’s character and commitment;

The student-athlete having demonstrated a level of respect for his academics and a level of proficiency in the sport of ice hockey; and

An in-person interview with the student-athlete.

Bridgedale Academy uses a classical school curriculum. Why it that important?

Answer: A classical school curriculum is grounded in the “tools of learning.”

The tools of learning are based on the classical “trivium” of grammar, logic and rhetoric. Students learn not only how to organize their thoughts, but also how to express them persuasively. By mastering these tools of learning, students are equipped with the skills to learn any subject that interests them.

How do the academics at Bridgedale Academy differ from those at a typical school?

A typical school today teaches its students what to think (e.g. subject-based)

At Bridgedale Academy, our students learn how to think (i.e. critical thinking-based)

Bridgedale uses a classical school curriculum (i.e. that of Hillsdale Academy located on the campus of Hillsdale College), while virtually all other schools in Illinois are using some form of the more “progressive” education that includes the use of Common Core. And whereas students at most schools no longer read any classic literature, at Bridgedale students are steeped in it.

How strong are the academics at Bridgedale Academy?

Answer: Our academics are strong. Virtually all of our graduates say that the academics at their new school are “easier” than they were at Bridgedale. And they also say they are grateful for this. Our curriculum is rooted in the fundamentals of a classical education and, while challenging, it allows those who give honest effort to learn and excel. And all our student-athletes do give their honest effort because: 1) they are competitive youngsters; 2) surrounded by other competitive youngsters; 3) in an environment that is conducive to learning and excelling. (Note also that as part and parcel of Bridgedale’s academic programs, tutoring is available every day on an as-needed basis.)

What schools do students attend after Bridgedale Academy?

Answer: Our students go on to attend prestigious private high schools, including Lake Forest Academy, Culver Military Academy, Shattuck St. Mary’s, Northwood School, Fenwick HS, Benet Academy, St. Ignatius, Latin School, Providence Catholic and St. Viator, as well as local public high schools like Hinsdale Central, Naperville Central and Downers Grove North.

My son has a late birthday. He plays hockey on his birth year team but goes to school with players from the younger birth year. How does Bridgedale Academy handle that?

Answer: Because two grade levels are combined for their athletic training at Bridgedale Academy, in many instances the student will be able to train with his birth year even though he is in a younger grade. In some instances, however, a late birth year student will do his athletic training with his school year classmates.

Are students with late birthdays allowed to skip a grade to be with their birth year teammates?

Answer: Yes, and several Bridgedale Academy student-athletes have already done so. And so after consultation with the parents, student-athletes with late birthdays who are intent upon training with their birth year group may be allowed to consider accelerating their academics to “skip” a grade and catch up academically with their birth year. Because tutoring is available on a daily basis, student-athletes who’ve made this choice have been able to make this transition smoothly.

My son is an “A” student who takes advanced courses. How will his academic needs be met?

Answer: At Bridgedale Academy, we are committed to the academic success of all our student-athletes to the fullest of their abilities. And because of our small class sizes and the resulting flexibility of our outstanding teaching staff, all of our high-performing students are challenged academically to the level of their proficiency. In addition, each and every school day we also provide the opportunity for private tutoring, valuable of course for students who may be struggling but also available and valuable for our more advanced students.

How many students will there be in each grade?

Answer: While we cap enrollment in each of our grade levels to 18 students, it is more likely that each grade level will comprise between 10 and 15 student-athletes.

Will structure and discipline be enforced in the classrooms?

Answer: Yes. As a private school we will expect and demand that our student-athletes come to Bridgedale Academy each day with a proper respect for the tasks they will face that day, both academically and athletically. Once they have walked through our doors, they are expected to have their attentions focused on that day’s activities and on what they intend to accomplish during the course of that day. They must be in compliance with our dress code and exhibit exemplary behavior before, during and after school. Any breaches of proper conduct are dealt with appropriately.

My son struggles with all the demands competitive youth hockey places on him. How can we expect him to handle even more such demands while attending Bridgedale?

Answer: Time management skills are important for any youngster to learn, and this is especially true for an athlete who is hoping to advance to the higher levels of competition. And the sooner a youngster is able to develop his time management skills the better. At Bridgedale Academy, we are committed to preparing our student-athletes to succeed in their lives. It is one of our primary goals. And so although there is an element of “baptism by fire” involved, it is far better to develop these skills now than to struggle even more with them later.

How does Bridgedale provide an emphasis on leadership?

Answer: In addition to the after-school Leadership Club we offer, our student-athletes are challenged on a daily basis to develop their leadership skills. They are constantly reminded that self-reliance and quality of character matter, and that such traits define true leadership, not only in great athletes but also in great men. We constantly emphasize and seek to reinforce these traits in our student-athletes. And in doing so we expect to meet the needs of our student-athletes for proper structure and appropriate guidance as they strive to mature into responsible, successful adults.

What is the focus of Bridgedale Academy’s athletic training?

Answer: The primary focus of our athletic training is the development of athleticism and skills. Bridgedale Academy provides high-level athletic training for our student-athletes, both on-ice and off-ice, developing not only their hockey-specific skills but also their athleticism generally. We adhere to USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM) and the concepts of Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), meeting the needs of our student-athletes for proven, science-based athletic training.

My son plays multiple sports. Will he be able to do that at Bridgedale?

Answer: Our athletic training programs aim for the development of athletes first and foremost, and then hockey players. And so while our primary focus is to help our student-athletes become the best hockey players they can be, we know that the best way to do this is to make them better athletes. And so we incorporate training for other sports, e.g. soccer and lacrosse, into our off-ice training regimen, always with an eye toward developing greater athleticism. This is especially true at our young grade levels, the ages at which sports science informs us that specialization in a single sport should be discouraged.

My son does not play AAA hockey. Is he eligible for admission?

Answer: Yes. Although many of our student-athletes do compete at the AAA level, it is not a requirement for admission. If the applicant meets the criteria for acceptance stated above and also shows solid potential, then he is eligible for admission. In such cases, the personal references and in-person interview are given substantial weight in considering the application.

Does Bridgedale Academy field its own hockey teams?

Answer: No. At Bridgedale we focus on providing the best possible combination of academics and athletics for our student-athletes. But we do not field school teams. Our student-athletes generally compete on club teams, i.e. which train during after-school hours and play most of their games on weekends.

Does Bridgedale Academy provide an academic curriculum for students with behavioral or academic special needs?

Answer: No. At this time Bridgedale Academy is not adequately equipped to provide for students with such special needs.