I started this blog a year ago and quickly found out how time consuming it was to maintain. I had every intention on maintaining it but lost track of it once I got into hockey season. I’m taking another stab at it and will make every effort to maintain it on a weekly basis.
As I got back into it this week, I was surprised that something I wrote last year was still getting hit on a regular bases. A topic about how coaches pick teams at youth hockey tryouts. It is always a hot topic around here this time of year and being tryout season, I found myself thinking about it too.
But all of this reminded me of a conversation I was involved in some time ago. There was a group of us talking to a certain Tier 1 Junior A coach at his tryout. If you are familiar with these tryouts, you know that some are open tryouts and some are not. Even the closed tryouts will have 90 kids attending and every one of them are outstanding Midget hockey players, most from AAA organizations. Of course some are drafted or returning players. Most are not. The number of spots the coach is trying to fill varies from team to team and year to year. Not unlike any youth tryout at a Peewee or Bantam level.
But during that conversation, somebody asked this coach how he evaluates 90 kids when he’s only got 5 spots available on the team. This coach replied by saying that he already has a very good idea which kids are going to make this team even prior to this closed tryout. And the single most import factor between decided between two kids is his family and upbringing. He’s looking for a good kid that will get along with others, that is strong academically to meet the academic challenges these kids are faced with, with a desire to work, learn, play and win, and that also comes from a good stable home. He really emphasized that last part. What type of home and parenting these kids come from has a big influence on which kids get picked to play Tier 1 Junior A. Obviously you have to have talent to play at that level, but these things he listed were deciding factors when deciding between two kids.
I walked away from that conversation thinking this: Is it any different at a Div. 1 NCAA level? Absolutely not. Is it any different at PF Changs or Russell Stover Midget AAA programs. Not likely. Should it be any different at a bantam AA, Peewee AA or Squirt AA level? You tell me. Should these teams be picked only by the merit of hockey skills shown during a 3 hour tryout? Or do the coaches have the liberty to take in other factors as attitude, family, history, etc?