College Sports Recruiting:
The first step toward
College Hockey

To play college hockey in front of your peers, professors, family and fans, in a great atmosphere with bands playing and a boisterous crowd is an unbelievable experience.

Before you have the opportunity to play college hockey, you will have to be successfully recruited. The college sports recruiting process can be confusing and daunting, you might often wonder, 'What are coaches looking for?' and 'What League Should I play in?'.

Before any of these questions can be answered, it is important to understand the NCAA hockey landscape. The NCAA sponsors a National Championship for Division I and Division III hockey.

The differences between DI and DIII have to do with the number of sports offered by the school, scheduling requirements, and minimum and maximum financial aid awards. The most basic thing to remember is that DIII schools cannot offer athletic scholarships.

All hockey programs depend on recruiting great players who will succeed academically at their school. The coaching staff is responsible for identifying hockey players and will evaluate as many Junior, Prep/High School, and Midget games as possible.

Division I teams might start scouting your child as young as 14 years old and will continue tracking him or her until their junior hockey eligibility runs out at 20 years old. During this time, if a coaching staff feels you are a great fit for their program you will be offered a verbal commitment and / or sign a National Letter of Intent.

During the college sports recruiting process, interaction with coaches will occur. Communication with coaches can be face to face, on the phone, through email, regular mail or an in home visit. However, college hockey coaches face limitations in the type and frequency of communication they can have with your son or daughter.

It is never too early to make a plan to communicate with college coaches during the college sports recruiting process. You need to think about the image and first impression that you present to the coach.

Remember that college hockey coaches are always trying to improve their teams so they will look for players all across North America and Europe who are playing in Junior hockey, Prep/High School or Midget leagues. Your son or daughter should strive to play at the highest level possible when preparing to play in the NCAA.

One way to help NCAA hockey coaches evaluate your son or daughter is to send them game tape. There are certainly benefits to sending video.

However, a poor video product will serve little purpose. There are some important things to consider to make effective use of video.

Other ways to increase your exposure is to enlist the help of a recruiting service or family adviser. College placement advisor, Pete Dillon, elaborates on this in our YCH Interview Series. It is important to consider the cost for such services and to weigh it against the benefit.

In college sports recruiting, when a team is legitimately interested in your son or daughter they will talk about a campus visit. To visit a school is a great opportunity to learn more about the academics, coach, and hockey program. You will also get a feel for the atmosphere and environment.

It is a good idea to go on as many visits as possible to learn about what you like at different schools. There are two types of campus visits official and unofficial.

Visiting a school is a perfect chance for the coach to size up your son or daughter, and yes, even you! Think of your time on a school's campus as a job interview. It is wise to be prepared with questions for the coach in addition to presenting a great image through proper manners, dress, and etiquette.

The reality is that families need to be prepared and have a plan.


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