The Fernie Academy Fury, No Gym? No Problem!

Having never been in the Fernie Academy (TFA) before, I knew little about the Fury other than we were increasingly making sports jerseys with their logo on them at our shop. I knew the tag line Respect, Excellence, Learning was embroidered on uniform jackets and increasingly we were placing multiple sports under the students’ names on their sleeves. When asked to do up a new order of Fury hockey jerseys I figured it was time to explore the world of sports at TFA and I found that the school with no actual gymnasium has an abundance of athletes and amazing athletic programs.

I first met up with Chris Moulton who is a student support worker as well as the Hockey Academy coach/coordinator at TFA. I know Chris both through he and his wife Shelley's amazing Friends for Friends foundation as well through having done some work for the Spokane Chiefs, the WHL organization in which he is the Assistant General Manager. I honestly am not sure how a guy who spends much of his time on the road with the Chiefs, and so involved in the Friends for Friends organization has time to run a Hockey Academy. It was, however, apparent through fist bumps and high-fives with all the students that he is a very important part of the Fury. He informs me that the Hockey Academy runs twice weekly for two hours each session and while they started with eight kids they now have 17 participants in the program including three young female figure skaters broadening their skating skills into the realm of hockey. Chris explains there are also Figure Skating and Soccer Academy programs through TFA and that it is the schools’ vision to be able to give students the tools to be able to excel in academics, athletics and the arts.

After a tour of the school’s colourful hallways filled with friendly students and teachers alike, I get a chance to chat with Jocelyn Sombrowski, TFA’s founder and Head Mistress. She gives me a rundown of the school’s athletic progress from their first X-Country running team in 2002, to their inclusion in the BC School Sports system in 2006. Their first male and female volleyball teams started in 2012, and in three short years the female senior girl’s volleyball team made it to the provincials. 2016 saw them ranked in the top five in the province and on another trip to the Provincials. I am told that while there is in fact no current physical gymnasium on the school property, the academy rents and utilizes many of the facilities in Fernie to ensure athletics are a priority.

When speaking with Athletic Director and Academy teacher Jean Boyd, she elaborates on some of the other athletic opportunities for the students. Swimming lessons, tennis, field hockey and golf programs as well as Friday afternoon ski or snowboard lessons for the students in the winter. TFA, along with Fernie Secondary School, hosted the BC Provincial Ski and Snowboard championships in 2016, an event which saw close to 300 racers from across the province hit the slopes of Fernie Alpine Resort with excellent results from both Fury and Falcon athletes.

After spending time in the school, chatting with staff and seeing the faces of friends’ kids who I see ripping on the hill or bike trails, I now know a physical gymnasium doesn't dictate the level of athletic programs a school can offer. The Fury is very proud of their athletic programs and athletes. I can only anticipate the increase in uniforms we will be pumping out for them all in the future.