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Hockey at the core of new venture founded by merger

The team at Nexus Development consists of owners Patrick Leonard, Luke Baleshta, Nick Pope, along with staff members Keaton Mclaughlin, Haylee Clemmer, Daniel Weir, Jaimee Macdonald and Jeriah Shantz. [Damon Maclean]

Woolwich Township is fairly small and the hockey community there is a tight-knit group, so it was only natural that the owners of Elmira’s Nexus Health and Training and St. Jacobs’ Grind Hockey Training Centre crossed paths. In fact, an overlap in business led to talks and, now, a merger that’s created Nexus Development.

Patrick Leonard of Grind Hockey and Luke Baleshta and Nick Pope of Nexus Health and Training all spent considerable time with hockey programs, so the merger seemed like a perfect fit.

Leonard launched Grind Hockey Training Centre, focused on training hockey players between the ages of five to 12 for the most part, six years ago. Nexus Development will run from the facility on King Street in St. Jacobs. 

Baleshta and Pope are co-owners of Elmira’s Nexus Health and Training. Having shared clients with Leonard in the past in Nexus’ athletic development and even coaching each other’s children. The idea of a merger came up about a year and a half ago, says Baleshta.

Nexus Development announced its opening on June 8, and according to the owners the phones have been ringing ever since. Currently, they are hosting a pilot version of the summer camps they will be offering.

It’s not your average arts-and-crafts camp, says Leonard. “[It’s] a hockey-skill development [camp] mixed with a lot of fun: rock climbing, treadmill ski training … We do a high-skill development every day, shooting class, and we do strength conditioning. That is primarily the core of the hockey training that happens every day. But we’re also big on making sure that their kids are having fun and doing multi-sports.”

The camps pair four youth with one instructor to ensure a more personal approach.

“We did it for a couple reasons: COVID and we want to be able to create a personalized experience for all the kids, as well, when they’re in the camp together. We get that more personalized attention compared to just 40 kids running around with two instructors that we’ve seen in the past. So that helps with some of the developments as well,” said Baleshta

The motto for Nexus Development is grow your craft, a sentiment that the organization strives for in all facets of the operation, say the owners.

“We want kids from our development  camp to love [their] sport. Whatever your passion is in anything, we want you to enjoy it – we want you to come back second to none, we want you to have fun. We talk about them having the passion and then us being able to put a development procedure in place to help them get better at it and be more successful and grow their craft,” said Baleshta.

The facility has also changed things to implement COVID-19 measures in accordance with public health. Some of these include automatic hand sanitizer dispensers and screening on arrival.

The facility has a skating treadmill, rock climbing wall, ice rink and numerous other activities set up with further expansion plans coming down the pipe. More information on the new business is available online.

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