How to start the Road to Junior Hockey
What is Junior Hockey - Part One
With recruiting season soon upon us (and some having already started) I will be doing a series of articles on what to expect as a “free agent” player. This is part one of said series.
Junior hockey is a crazy world, especially with how many leagues, divisions and teams are out there. It can be a rough landscape to try and navigate and not every road is the best path for everyone.
“So TDC, where do I even start”?
Well kid, you first need to figure out what YOUR short term and long term goals are. If you are in the top 1% at age 16, there’s a fairly good chance the path is pretty clear. But that leaves the other 99% that need to figure out what’s going to work for them.
Every player pretty much wants to play pro hockey, so while that can be an extremely long term goal, you really want to be looking at getting into a position to be viewed and recruited into a quality college program. That should be your real long term goal because at some point, hockey stops and life moves on. So, you want to be best prepared for life after competitive hockey (can
you say 10:50 beer league games?)
Your short term goal should be getting yourself into the right position and program that will help develop, teach and guide you through those years before college comes knocking. Lucky for you, there are a boat load of programs out there to choose from and who are looking for players, your job is to get in front of the right ones.
Here are some questions you first need to ask yourself to help you turn the keys and get you going on your road to junior hockey:
Am I willing to relocate and move away from my family and billet with another family?
If I can’t play tier 1 or tier 2 junior hockey, can my family and I afford tier 3?
Does playing tier 3 hockey make sense for me, or should I go straight to college and play club?
If you haven’t aged out of midget/HS hockey, is it worth it for me to leave early or stay till I’ve aged out and junior hockey is my only option?
How much work am I willing to put in to find the right club for myself, or just take an offer or tender from any program that gives you one?
Am I willing to do, and can you afford to do a showcase or two to get yourself in front of prospective programs?
Can we pay money for tryout fee's, travel and lodging to try and make a few tier 2 teams main camp?
Can my family and myself navigate this on our own, or can we afford an advisor who might be able to do most of the work for us? (I’ll touch on this in a later article)
These are just a handful of questions to ask yourself and your family to get you heading in the right direction. Write them down, review them and figure out what's going to be available to you from your own end.
(Part 2 will focus on how to get noticed by a junior club)