It is a dream of many young hockey players to eventually play hockey professionally. But a logical first step for many is to play in college. It is very high level, and plenty of players are drafted out of college, or go there to hone their skills after being drafted but before going to the big leagues.
Unfortunately, getting recruited to play any sport in college can be challenging. There are millions of players who want a spot, and there is only a finite amount of roster spots available in college.
Thankfully, I’m here to give you some help. This guide is going to go over home tips and helpful information when it comes to how a player can get recruited to play college hockey.
1. Find Ways to Showcase Your Talents
The first tip is to find any way you can to showcase your talents. Always play your best on the ice, and show off your entire skillset from shooting, to passing, to deking, to hitting, to blocking shots, and whatever else you think paints you in the best light.
But in addition to playing well in games and tournaments, use the internet to your advantage. Create some highlight videos of your best plays and post/send them places, and be sure there is a place where potential coaches can see your stats and a bio about you as a player.
Even having a social media profile where you share stats, videos or even your hockey-related insight can help your cause. Any way you can show off how good and/or knowledgeable a player you are, the better.
2. Show Up in the Big Moments
In a similar vein to the first tip, you want to be sure to show up in the big moments. College recruiters will often attend high-school or junior hockey games to see if any players catch their eyes. If you know there will be recruiters at a tournament, it is important to show up.
Of course, recruiters are often short on time and may only attend high-profile tournaments where there is a long history of strong teams and players attending. If you or your team can get into one of these tournaments, it can be one of the best ways to get noticed.
Try your best to minimize mistakes during these tournaments, make good decisions, and show off your best moves. Try to keep a level head, and show that you are a good teammate, as well.
Also, if you have a tryout or some sort of skills display for prospective colleges, be sure that you bring your best.
3. Be Proactive
While it would be lovely if you had several college coaches banging on your door to offer you a scholarship, this isn’t the case for most prospective college hockey players. It will often be up to you to reach out to schools and coaches and show your interest.
Find the names or emails of coaches, and reach out to them and ask them to watch your highlight video or to come to a game or tournament. This won’t always yield results but has been successful from time to time.
Also, college coaches won’t be able to reach out to players until they are at least in the 10th grade, so if you want to start the process earlier than that, it will be up to you and your family to reach out to schools and show your interest.
4. Don’t Solely Focus on Division 1
When many people think of college hockey, they think of the major division 1 teams like Michigan or Minnesota State. However, your chances of making one of the teams are low unless you are one of the best young players in the country.
Of course, you can certainly do it if you have the skills and put in the time, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t, as there is far more to college than these top-level division 1 teams. There are hundreds of teams in division 3 and club hockey programs put on through colleges.
These allow you to play at a high level but are more attainable for many young players. While you may think these are not competitive, that couldn’t be further from the truth. A ton of great players have gone the division 3/club team route and found a lot of success.
5. It’s About More Than Hockey
While your skills and talent on the ice are very important to be a college hockey player, it isn’t the only thing colleges will look at. You need to satisfy other requirements in order to be a good college hockey player that coaches and schools can be proud of.
First of all, you need to have strong grades. This can make you eligible for better scholarships, and ensure you can actually be accepted into the school where you want to play hockey. The better your grades, the more options you will generally have.
You also need to show good character. Schools make significant investments in their athletes, and you need to be sure to show that you are worth it, and are a decent human being. You should have a strong work ethic, be a team player and have a positive attitude.
And finally, if you use social media, you need to be careful. You need to be smart about how you post and how you appear online. If you have a ton of questionable posts on social media, many colleges might want to stay away from you. The same goes for parents of hopeful players, too.
6. Be Aware of Eligibility Rules
Of course, if you want to be a college hockey player, you need to ensure you are eligible to do so. You need to maintain a certain level of academic success and need to ensure you have never played with a professional team of any kind, or you lose your amateur status.
This includes teams in the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL, so be careful with the teams you play for as a young player, as they could make you ineligible to play in college. Also, do not accept gifts or payments for your play, as that can potentially hold you back, too.
Also, be careful with expenses-paid tryouts or other excursions being funded by junior teams. Even if you don’t sign to play with them, attending these can often lead to murky waters in terms of eligibility, as your expenses were paid.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into a player getting recruited to play hockey in college. It can be a long process and may look different from player to player. If you have any other questions or feel like I missed something, let me know in a comment below.About Kale