Playing Junior Hockey you are often asked by random strangers, "what is Junior Hockey?" or something along the lines of, "what do you play?". It is something that you get a lot throughout your Junior Hockey career. Throughout my 5 years of Junior Hockey, I was probably asked this question 500 times. I sometimes had the same people(even relatives) asking me every year, "what exactly are you doing?".
I would say that Junior Hockey is not only playing some form of Amateur Hockey, it has a much deeper meaning to it.
Junior Hockey, not to be lame, is a lifestyle. It is a time where kids, that are fortunate to play the game, are taught about the game of hockey along with some of the most important life skills.
The biggest things I learned in Junior Hockey are the following.
How to do Laundry
Being a Leader
Not only was Junior Hockey the best time of my life, it help create the person I am today. I think that all Junior Hockey Players leave the game a better person. As Junior Hockey Players, we obviously all have the goal of continuing our career to Professional Hockey, but most of us never make it. But because of Junior Hockey we are able to adapt and continue our success in the "Real World".
Other than the life skills that are taught, Junior Hockey can be thought of as a landing ground for hockey players that want to continue there career to either the College Hockey or the Professional Hockey level. So here is a basic breakdown for Junior Hockey in the United States.
There are 3 Tiers in Junior Hockey, they are labeled as the following.
Hockey is one of the only sports that have this type of development ladder. Most sports, players go right from High School to College. However, in Junior Hockey, there is a different type of development system in place. When a player is in high school they have the decision to enter into the Junior Hockey world or go right into college and either continue their schooling and/or continue their schooling and play some form of College Hockey. A lot of players will end up conforming to the Junior Hockey lifestyle to develop their hockey skills so that they are able to play at the College Hockey level.
At the end of the day, if you are new to Junior Hockey or you are a parent that is contemplating whether or not to send your child off to play Junior Hockey, I would personally give it the go ahead.
The reason I would urge you to play Junior Hockey is because I really think that playing the game at this level will not only make your kid a better ice hockey player, but it will teach them some of the biggest life lessons that they may not get as a true freshman in college. You learn how to survive in the real world and you will acquire the traits that make any person successful in life after college. Not to mention it is also the best time of your life, where you meet some lifelong friends.
If you are looking for more information about the topic of Juniors, and what this level really has to offer, I recommend listening to our Podcast. In our episodes of The Junior Hockey Podcast, we not only breakdown hockey development, we also talk about everything that I mentioned above in a more broader discussion. If there is one specific episode I could inform you on, it would be TJHP EP009 where we had Head Coach and General Manager of The Steele County Blades of the USPHL as a guest. We talked a lot about Junior Hockey and some of the life skills we got out of playing Junior Hockey ourselves.
Also, if you have any questions about Junior Hockey or you are a current/former player, please either comment below or start a discussion in our All New TJHP Junior Hockey Forum!