If you’ve listened to The Hockey Show when we have university-level players on, one of the questions I always like to ask is how did they come to the decision to attend the school they are representing. The answers vary in terms of how players came to their decisions, and it always has me wondering why there aren’t better resources out there to help players who are looking for a little guidance. While coaches, friends, teammates, and family can all have influences on where players play, the Alberta Female Hockey League has made it a little easier to make good choices thanks to a new resource they released today on their website!
The AFHL AAA league published a brand-new post-secondary guide for players who may need a little help, and I have to say that their document is pretty great! In the guide, they break down all of the post-secondary hockey leagues – U SPORTS, ACAC, NCAA, and ACHA – to help players navigate the plethora of schools out there who are seeking players. Needless to say, the amount of schools can be a little overwhelming!
What I was impressed with is the guide’s focus on education before hockey. We know that hockey is an option for those players who want to pursue it, but all schools who offer hockey have academic requirements that students need to meet in order to play. The AFHL Post-Secondary Guide puts the emphasis on education and a career after graduating before even mentioning athletics. That’s the correct order in terms of priorities when choosing a school, and kudos for the AFHL for making that distinction early on in this guide.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the guide is the section on connecting with coaches. Normally when we think of recruiting, we think of coaches with a notebook sitting in the stands and taking notes as he or she watches the game. Clearly, I’m out of the game when it comes to recruiting because this guide seems to indicate that players should be reaching out to the coaches of program long before the coaches even commit to watching a second of game action! It goes to show how little I know about this side of the coin being that my university athletics career would have been “waterboy” at best.
This might be one of the more crucial sections regarding recruitment that I’ve ever read because I always thought it was the coaches seeking the players, not the other way around in university sports. When I hear a Canadian hockey player has been recruited by a big-time NCAA program, I always thought it was word-of-mouth that got the player’s name to the coach, but, again, it seems I’m completely mistaken here. The AFHL Post-Secondary Guide talks about the timeline that players should be following from Grade Nine through to graduation as well as what to include on emails and correspondences. I learned a great deal in reading this guide!
There are some excellent testimonials in the guide as well, and I know that players like Bella McKee, Alex Poznikoff, Sierra LaPlante, and Camryn Drever were highly sought-after players upon graduating high school. These players had multiple schools who wanted them on their rosters, and they each had to make choices as to where they wanted to play. They went through the same process players are going through today in investigating the schools, eliminating some from their lists, visiting campuses to get a better idea of what life at school would be like, and, ultimately, choosing their schools to attend.
While this is written from the approach of women’s hockey, I wouldn’t disregard this guide if your son is thinking about post-secondary education. The same processes can be used for men’s hockey at the college or university level, and the same evaluations of schools should be used to make good choices for the boys who are heading off to a higher educational institution.
Bookmark the AFHL Post-Secondary Guide if you’re thinking about a future in hockey. The resources contained within this guide are valuable and will certainly help when it comes time to making hard decisions about one’s future. Knowing what to ask, who to ask, and how to ask take a lot of guesswork out of the equation, and the results will be a better academic and athletic experience overall if one follows this guide’s advice!
Kudos to the Alberta Female Hockey League for producing this guide! You’ll help hundreds, if not thousands, of players make the right choices when it comes to their post-secondary education and athletics, and that’s a heckuva service to provide!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!