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2024 Girls Hockey Hockey Tryouts Minor Hockey Player Development Youth Hockey

10 Tips for Youth Hockey Tryouts

Tryout season has begun in both the United States and Canada. Having now gone through the process from 10U all the way up to 19U now, I have seen many of the different situations that occur at this time of year. The entire process was non-linear with lots of bumps along the way. Things didn’t always work out perfectly in the short term, but it all worked out in the long term. Based on our family’s experience, here are some tips for this year’s tryout season:

1. Player development is more important than winning games

Regardless of what age or level of youth hockey you play, it is 100% more important for your player to improve as much as possible rather than winning games.  Now, losing sucks and winning championships can certainly help with exposure.  But unless you are old enough to be recruited to the next level, given a choice between playing on a winning team, but not getting better or losing but taking major steps in your development – it should be a no-brainer which one to take. 

2. The best coach should be the highest priority in deciding where to play

There are many many factors in deciding where to try out and play, including distance from home, cost, practice and game schedule etc. But the most important should be to find the best coach that will develop your player the most. 

3. Try not to be the best or worst player on the team

All things being equal, you want to be in the middle of the pack player on a team  – not the top or the bottom. Although or one season it is okay to be at the top or the bottom. Being the best means you may not be challenged as much as you are capable of. And being the worst can cause lots of frustrations. If you are in the middle, that is a great opportunity to work your way up the lineup if you can.  Of course all players want to be on the power play and penalty kill.  A good coach will cycle through all the lines on a team. 

4. Politics is a fact of life

Like it or not, there is politics in tryouts.  Just accept it for what it is and recognize that it may or may not work in your favor. Wasting energy on why a player was put ahead of yours is not going to be productive. The reality is that there is politics at every level of hockey especially at the district/provincial and national level. Just try to be the best player you can be and let the chips fall where they may. If you are that close to making or not making a team, then that is something that is within your control for next time by just getting better.

5. The most important training has already taken place

The last week of training before tryouts won’t likely be the difference between making a team and not. While there are small things that can help a player succeed at tryouts – the things that will most impact their level of play and success at tryouts will have taken place during the months leading up to tryouts. There shouldn’t be a need to spend 3 hours each night at the rink the week before tryouts.

6. Coaches are also evaluating the parents

Many coaches are judging parents as much as the kids. Nothing wrong with getting to know the coaching staff and how they plan to run the team. Also, it is important to make sure that you share the same philosophies on how the coach plans to run the team. But be aware that the coach is also evaluating if you will be a “high maintenance” parent.

7. Tryouts may not actually be tryouts

As kids get older (i.e. U14 and above), it’s okay that the coach already decided on many if not all of the players who will make the team. Tryouts are just a point in time.  Depending on the club, many coaches run “development camps” leading up to tryouts. This way they can review players over an extended period of time.  In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with them using that evaluation period to already decide if they want a player on their team or not.

8. Many clubs make money on tryouts – don’t waste yours

Be wary of some clubs who use tryouts as a way to make money.   There are many clubs who charge several hundred dollars for players to tryouts and will accepts 3-4 times as many players to try out as they have spots.  While occasionally trying out for the “experience” or “getting more ice time” might make sense, you should know if your player has a real chance of making the team before you show up.  Don’t waste your money on attending a tryout when that money would be better spent on a lesson or two with a skills coach.

9. Coaches aren’t perfect

Don’t expect perfection from coaches.  Your player isn’t perfect and neither are coaches.  Each club has a different way of evaluating players – some as a group with  “objective” observers and some with just the coaching staff for a team.  No method is perfect, however some are more sophisticated than others.  Know before you show up what to expect and realize just like players and referees, coaches don’t always get everything exactly right. If you don’t what to expect before you show up to a tryout and know the pros and cons of how a club conducts tryouts, then you share some of the blame too.

10. Feedback is a gift

Ask for feedback in a professional manner after tryouts if you didn’t make the team.  If an organization really cares about youth hockey development they would be happy to provide additional insights as to why a specific player didn’t make the cut.  Take the feedback as a gift even if you disagree with the feedback.  Do not argue or make your case as to why you saw things differently. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you at least know why and could potentially take action on the feedback. Get better for your next tryout and try out for a team where your player would not be so close to making or not making the team.

Bonus: Hockey makes players better people

Not making a team can be very emotional and challenging.  But I guarantee, if you have a resilient player, it will all work out fine.  Both my kids did not make teams in youth hockey, but they still ended up playing at the highest level of hockey for their age group when they got older.  Take is as an good life lesson.

ICYMI: Watch this Episode on Girls Tryouts with Alyssa Gagliardi


Champs App Messaging 

You can easily select a coach & email template and the message automatically populates the coach’s info, school and your personal information from your Champs App profile.  Pick the Upcoming Events template and the Messaging tool with magically insert your upcoming games or events into the message.

Watch the demo (Desktop Version) (Mobile Version) and try it out today!

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2024 2025 College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey

The Transfer Portal and Implications for Recruiting

Since the NCAA DI women’s hockey season ended for each team, individual players have been adding their name to the transfer portal seeking a new school to play for next season. 139 players entered the portal since it reopened last summer.  40 out 44 schools have at least one player in the portal.

Why Players Enter the Transfer Portal

There are many reasons a student-athlete would choose to go into the transfer portal.  Here are the most common:

  • They have a 5th year of eligibility due to Covid
  • Grad student (graduated) with remaining years of eligibility
  • Player wants more playing time (most common with goalies)
  • Player wants to play for a better team;  upgrade team ranking
  • Issue with the coach /coaching change – one or both sides feel that there is no longer a fit for team / player
  • Off-ice concerns – school (academic or culture) is not a fit for the student-athlete
  • Financial reasons / NIL (Name-Image-Likeness) opportunities

Transfer Portal Player by Years of Eligibility

Analyzing the actual the list of 139 players, here is how they breakout by remaining years of eligibility. It is no surprise that most only have one year left:

NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Transfer Portal

Impact on Prospective Recruits

Depending on how many years of eligibility a transfer player has, it will either impact the number of recruits for 2026 or it may impact the slot where incoming 2024/2025 recruits fit in the lineup.

For example over the last few days, Ohio State added a F from Clarkson, a D from Boston University and a G from Minnesota Duluth, all with two years of eligibility left.  Thus current and future OSU commits may be impacted by these signings for the 2024/25 and the 2025/26 seasons.

On the flip side, this creates an opening in 2024 or 2025 at Clarkson, BU and UMD, depending on how many existing recruits there are for these schools.

For 2026 recruits, if a player with 3 or 4 years of eligibility transfers to a school your were interested in and plays your position, there may be one less spot available on that team on June 15th.

While at USA Hockey Nationals last week, I spoke with a couple of coaches who mentioned they are hosting transfer portal students this month for visits. So I would suspect that we will see many more announcement of players changing schools over the coming weeks.


Champs App Messaging is the fast, easy way to send error-free messages to coaches.

Champs App Messaging cuts the time to send emails to coaches by over 50%, ensures key information is included and reduces common errors.

You can easily select a coach & email template and the message automatically populates the coach’s info, school and your personal information from your Champs App profile.  Pick the Upcoming Events template and the Messaging tool with magically insert your upcoming games or events into the message.

Watch the demo (Desktop Version) (Mobile Version) and try it out today!

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting TOOLS Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Introducing…The Champs App Messaging Tool

Champs App Messaging is the fast, easy way to send error-free messages to coaches. 

Champs App Messaging Tool Demo (Desktop Version)

The Champs App Messaging tool ensures the coach’s name, email and school are correct without the need to look online and find each coach’s contact information. 

Email Templates

With the Champs App Messaging tool you can choose from a variety of email templates to send. For example, one template informs coaches about upcoming events or tournaments and another lets a coach know about new videos added to your Champs profile.  Each template automatically populates the message with the coach’s name and school and inserts personal information from your Champs App profile. This way you can be sure the emails does not have an errors.

Personalize Each Message

Personalize each message further to make it uniquely yours. Experience the convenience of the Champs App Messaging yourself by logging into your Champs App account. Or click here to learn more about how it works.

Introductory Pricing

For a limited time, we are offering the Champs App Messaging tool at a low introductory price for an annual subscription.  As we add more amazing features to the Messaging tool over the coming weeks and months, these new features will be included in your annual subscription. So, get started today by logging into your Champs App account to try out the new Champs App Messaging Tool and easily send error-free emails to coaches. Subscribe today  before the price goes up.

Champs App Messaging Tool Demo (Mobile Version)
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2024 2024 College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey Team Coach Directory Women's College Hockey Youth Hockey

How the Champ App Messaging Tool Works

Available Coaches 

We currently have 3 sets of coaches that you can send emails to:

·         Division I Women’s Hockey Coaches (all coaches)

·         Division III Women’s Hockey Coaches (all head coaches and several assistants

·         U Sports (Canada) Women’s Hockey Coaches (head coaches only)

Champs App Messaging sends real emails to coaches (regardless of whether or not they have an active Champs account).  Coaches will receive the emails at their regular school email address (not within Champs App).

Send Yourself a Test Email

You have the ability to send messages by email address. So if you want to test the tool by sending an email to yourself you can. Or if you want to send an email to a non-college coach, you just need to put in their email address in the Step 1 box.

Message Templates

There are currently 4 templates that you can use to send emails to coaches.  Just pick the template that is right for your situation.  We will be adding more templates and features in the near future.

Make Sure Your Player Profile is Up-To-Date

Every template automatically populates with information from your Player Profile into the email. So if you want to save yourself time from entering the same information multiple times, make sure your current team, graduation year, jersey #, upcoming schedule etc. are up-to-date.

Email Details

Please note that the actual email gets sent via Champs App on a player’s behalf (with your name appearing as the Sender). Specifically, it is sent from a generic Champs email address.  BUT, the “reply-to” email address is your own email address.  In addition, your email address is included in the template by default. Most coaches probably won’t notice where it is sent from (they will focus on the name not the sender’s email address), but it is important for users to know exactly how it works.

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2024 2024 College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey USA Hockey Nationals Women's College Hockey

Part II – USA Hockey Nationals Team Selection & Seedings – Girls U16 Tier I

This is Part II about the analysis of USA Hockey 2024 Nationals Girls Tier I Hockey playoffs taking place in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Here is Part I – Girls Tier I 14U

This analysis look at the teams selected for the Girls Tier I U16 playoffs. Given the importance of being seen at Nationals from recruiting perspective, I examined the at-large team selections and the seedings.

As a reminder: If you are heading to the Tier 2 girls playoffs, you can still be scouted by DI coaches. This week I spoke with a DI coach who will be in East Lansing and will be looking for the top players from smaller regions that can’t easily play for a Tier I team.

Girls 16U Selections

Below you can see the ranking of the 16 teams who will be playing at the 16U Tier I Nationals. The 3 highlighted teams (Minnesota Magazine, Massachusetts Spitfires and Minnesota Hardware) are the at-large invitations, then there is the host team (Florida Alliance) and the other 12 are the district champions.

The USA Hockey 2024 National Guidebook provides the following description for how they decide on the at-large teams and seedings:

Unlike the U14 Tier 1 Selections, all of the at-large teams made sense since they were the 3 highest ranked teams on My Hockey Rankings that didn’t win their district. The only thing which is confusing to me is that lack of consistency of Minnesota Elite League teams accepting at-large invitations. It seems that some highly ranked teams do and some don’t attend nationals. I will need to research this further.

As far as the last team to miss the playoffs, the Mid Fairfield CT Stars had a 95.57 which was 0.93 below the last at-large team, Minnesota Hardware. Similar to the U14s, that is a pretty large difference in ratings (in other age groups I’ve seen a rating difference of only 0.01 or 0.02 between bubble teams) and thus there shouldn’t be much concern about the Stars not being selected based on their rating.

Girls 16U Seedings

For the U16 age groups, the seedings are non-controversial. They match identically to the MyHockeyRankings sorting of the 16 qualified teams.

However, if the selection committee looked at the last 10 games for each of the top 10 teams (as they appear to do in other age groups), there is a reasonable argument to be made for a re-arranging of the Top 8 teams. Specifically, two of the at-large teams could have been seeded higher. The same for Belle Tire. Especially since those teams’ full-year ratings were so close to the teams above them in the rankings.

The next posts will discuss the USA Hockey Nationals Girls U19 selections and seedings.


Want to be scouted at Nationals? Use Champs App Messaging to quickly & easily let coaches know your game schedule

Let NCAA coaches know you’ll be at Nationals and your game schedule. The Champs App Messaging tool is the fast, easy way to send error-free messages to coaches before and during the event.

You can easily select a coach & email template and the message automatically populates the coach’s info, school and your personal information from your Champs App profile.  Pick the Upcoming Events template and the Messaging tool with magically insert your upcoming games at Nationals into the message.

Watch the demo (Desktop Version) (Mobile Version) and try it out today!

Categories
2024 2024 College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey USA Hockey Nationals Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Part III – USA Hockey Nationals Team Selection & Seedings – Girls U19 Tier I

This is Part III about the analysis of USA Hockey 2024 Nationals Girls Tier I Hockey playoffs taking place in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Here is Part I for U14 and Part II for U16

This analysis look at the teams selected for the Girls Tier I U19 playoffs. Given the importance of being seen at Nationals from recruiting perspective, I examined the at-large team selections and the seedings.

As a reminder: If you are heading to the Tier 2 girls playoffs, you can still be scouted by DI coaches. This week I spoke with a DI coach who will be in East Lansing and will be looking for the top players from smaller regions that can’t easily play for a Tier I team.

Girls 19U Selections

Below you can see the ranking of the 16 teams who will be playing at the 19U Tier I Nationals. The 4 highlighted teams (East Coast Wizards, NAHA, Team Wisconsin and the Connecticut Polar Bears) are the at-large invitations. Unlike other age groups, there is no U19 team from the Northern Plains district – thus the 4th at-large team. Then there is the host team (Florida Alliance) and the other 11 are the district champions.

The USA Hockey 2024 National Guidebook provides the following description for how they decide on the at-large teams and seedings:

Similar to the the U14 Tier 1 at-large Selections, it is unclear why the Minnesota Empowers and Tradition teams are not at-large teams. Maybe they opted out due to the higher priority of the Minnesota High School hockey playoffs. There is a lack of consistency of Minnesota Elite League teams accepting at-large invitations.

As far as the last team to miss the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Pens Elite has a 95.20 rating which is only 0.24 below the last at-large team, the Connecticut Polar Bears. But it seems this is large enough to make the Polar Bears the at-large selection.

Girls 19U Seedings

For the U19 age groups, the seedings do not match the rankings. Shattuck St Mary’s is ranked #1, but seeded #2 behind Bishop Kearney Selects. East Coast Wizards are ranked higher, but seeded lower than the Boston Jr Eagles. And NAHA is ranked higher than the Mid Fairfield Stars, but seeded lower. As described in the USA Hockey Guide above, it is likely a combination of head-to-head and Last 10 Games that were factors in these seedings.

Specifically, BK Selects beat Shattuck in their only game back in October, and but Shattuck still had a much higher rank in their last 10 games (see below). In addition, S-SM has a 0.65 higher rating than BK, which is quite large. So it seems the head-to-head was the primary factor in the flipping of positions. I suspect this will have impact the motivations of both teams should they meet in the playoff round.

The Boston Jr Eagles won the Massachusetts district, so it seems to make sense that they would be higher than the Boston Jr Eagles.

For NAHA and Mid Fairfield, being seeded #8 vs #9 doesn’t really make a material difference, since they will be in the same division. It just impacts the order of games and who is the home team when they play each other. The two teams never played each other during the season, but Mid Fairfield has the higher rating over the last 10 games.

Here are the links to Part I – Tier I Girls 14U and Part II – Tier I Girls 16U


Want to be scouted at Nationals? Use Champs App Messaging to quickly & easily let coaches know your game schedule

Let NCAA coaches know you’ll be at Nationals and your game schedule. The Champs App Messaging tool is the fast, easy way to send error-free messages to coaches before and during the event.

You can easily select a coach & email template and the message automatically populates the coach’s info, school and your personal information from your Champs App profile.  Pick the Upcoming Events template and the Messaging tool with magically insert your upcoming games at Nationals into the message.

Watch the demo (Desktop Version) (Mobile Version) and try it out today!

Categories
2024 2024 College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey USA Hockey Nationals Women's College Hockey

USA Hockey Nationals Team Selection & Seedings – U14 Tier I Girls

Being selected to go to Tier I Nationals is a big deal beyond just competing in the national playoffs to win a championship. Almost every NCAA DI women’s hockey program sends at least one coach to scout players and watch the best teams compete against each other. It gives U.S. players another great opportunity to be seen. While there are many elite players that play for teams that don’t end up qualifying for Nationals – it isn’t the end of the world for them, there are still many other opportunities to be seen (e.g. showcases, USA Hockey camps etc.).  However, playing at Nationals is an excellent opportunity and timing to get seen. While the process to make Nationals for District winners and the host team is clear, the at-large selection process is a little murkier. This analysis looks at the at-large selections and how the teams were seeded.

I recently wrote about the selections for the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey playoffs and how the selections and seedings compared to their MyHockeyRankings ratings.  Unlike the NCAA, the USA Hockey National Playoffs actually uses MyHockeyRankings to help select the at-large teams for both youth and girls divisions. On the youth side, in addition to the 12 district winners, there are typically 4 at-large teams selected for Tier I (AAA). On the girl’s side, they also have 12 district winners. However, this is the final year where the girls host team gets an automatic spot in addition to that districts winner. So there are two teams from the Southeast district this year.  Next year there will also be 4 at-large teams for Tier I girls.

Candidly, I haven’t taken the time to learn how the Tier II selections are made for Nationals. And I certainly don’t understand how the High School Girls teams are selected – because the last couple of winners have not really played high school hockey teams for their regular schedule, but mostly against other Tier I (AAA) classified teams.  So this 3-part analysis will focus solely on the 14U, 16U and 19U Girls Tier I selection and seeds for next week’s USA Hockey 2024 Nationals taking place in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

Note: If you are heading to the Tier 2 girls playoffs, you can still be scouted by DI coaches. This week I spoke with a DI coach who will be in East Lansing and will be looking for the top players from smaller regions that can’t easily play for a Tier I team.

Girls 14U Selections

Below you can see the ranking of the 16 teams who will be playing at the 14U Tier I Nationals. The 3 highlighted teams (Minnestota Walleye, Assabet Valley and Chicago Mission) are the at-large invitations, then there is the host team (Florida Alliance) and the other 12 are the district champions.

The USA Hockey 2024 National Guidebook provides the following description for how they decide on the at-large teams and seedings:

From a selection standpoint, the only team which is not clear is the Minnesota Lakers not being selected for an at-large spot. The two reasons I can think of are a) the first at-large spot already went to a Minnesota district team (Walleye) so maybe the committee didn’t want to take two at-large teams from the same district. The other might be that I have heard Minnesota players care more about their High School playoffs than USA Nationals, therefore getting re-organized (after their High School season ends_ and the cost to play in Florida may not be appealing to some teams. If someone has more information on these decisions, please feel free to provide more information.

As far as the last team to miss the playoffs (excluding the Lakers), the Bay State Breakers were had a 95.48 which was 0.77 below the last at-large team, Chicago Mission. In my experience, that is a pretty large difference in ratings (in other age groups I’ve seen a rating difference of only 0.01 or 0.02 between bubble teams) and thus there shouldn’t be much concern about the Breakers not being selected based on their rating.

Girls 14U Seedings

Pretty much all the seedings make sense with 2 exceptions:

  1. Minnesota Walleye were ranked #1 according to MHR, but Lovell Academy was given the #1 seed.  The two teams never played each other during the season, so that could not be a factor.  However, when looking at just the last 10 games for each team, it seems Lovell Academy had a higher rating by 0.3 goals – so that may have been the determining factor in giving Lovell Academy the #1 seed.

2. The Minnesota Green Giants and Philadelphia Jr Flyers were ranked #5 and #6 respectively according to MHR. But the Jr Flyers were given the higher seed. But looking closer, both teams had an identical 95.81 rating. And the Jr Flyers had a 0.3 higher rating over their last 10 games – so this could likely be the determining factor for promoting the Jr Flyers.

The next posts will discuss the USA Hockey Nationals Girls U16 and U19 selections and seedings.


Want to be scouted at Nationals? Use Champs App Messaging to quickly & easily let coaches know your game schedule

Let NCAA coaches know you’ll be at Nationals and your game schedule. The Champs App Messaging tool is the fast, easy way to send error-free messages to coaches before and during the event.

You can easily select a coach & email template and the message automatically populates the coach’s info, school and your personal information from your Champs App profile.  Pick the Upcoming Events template and the Messaging tool with magically insert your upcoming games at Nationals into the message.

Watch the demo (Desktop Version) (Mobile Version) and try it out today!

Categories
2024 College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Analyzing the 2024 NCAA Women’s DI Hockey Championship Selections and Conference Competition: Insights and Implications

With the announcement of the 11 teams participating in the 2024 NCAA Women’s DI Hockey Championship, I decided to take a look to see if the at-large team bids made sense. In the past, there seemed to be at least one or two teams that got snubbed. This year, it looks as though the committee pretty much got it right with the 6 teams added beyond the 5 conference champions.

At the same I was also curious about how different the level of competition was between conferences. While I know the WCHA is known as being the best conference in the country, I wondered how big a difference the level of play was between conferences this past season.  There were a couple of surprises.  And I believe they could have implications for a player’s recruiting process. 

For this analysis I used the MyHockeyRanking algorithm for the team rankings. The NCAA’s methodology is completely different and explained here. Neither the NCAA’s methodology nor MHR’s algorithm is perfect. I have discussed in detail the pros and cons of MHR in the past, but I personally believe it is the most accurate view of the full-season performance of a team. Especially since I am sure that every NCAA DI team plays to win and not to ‘the score’ (i.e. goal differential) like what happens occasionally in youth hockey. 

Did the right teams get selected?

Note: Bold = Conference Champion Italics = At-Large Bid

When you exclude the conference champions, pretty much the next 6 best teams were selected for the tournament.  There could be an argument made for St Cloud State. Given that there were already 4 WCHA teams selected, statistically they were essentially tied with Clarkson, and the NCAA uses the pairwise ranking (which is difficult to calculate, so I don’t fully understand it), I am okay with their decision.  While pairwise ranking might reward wins, in my opinion it doesn’t weight strength-of-schedule sufficiently.

Analyzing the Seedings

Note: Bold = Conference Champion

Looking at the seeding, the most-obvious disconnect was with Minnesota-Duluth being given an 8th seed but having a #5 ranking.  Once again, it would not surprise me if the NCAA did not want 4 of the 5 top seeds to be from the WCHA. Unfortunately, this means UMD will likely play Ohio State in the 2nd round instead of a Clarkson or a Colgate if they were seeded higher.

From a recruiting perspective, it was interesting to see the large variability in the average ratings for each conference.

Comparing Conference Competition

As you can see, the competition in the WCHA is >1 goal more than the next best conference, the ECAC. In other words, on average a WCHA will beat and ECAC team by ~1.32 goals.

In addition, for this past season, the NEWHA conference performed at a significantly lower level of play than all the other conference by 3+ goals.  In fact, all 8 NEWHA teams were ranked as the bottom 37-44 teams in DI NCAA Women’s Hockey according to MyHockeyRankings. In an upcoming post, I will compare playing in the NEWHA at the DI level to playing at a top DIII school from a recruiting perspective. I do think there are some nuances that are important to consider when choosing a school and making the right choice for your personal situation.

This is the full list of MyHockeyRankding for DI Women’s Hockey for the 2023-24 Season:

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey Hockey Tryouts Parents Player Development Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey Youth Hockey

Top 5 Life Skills Developed  from the Hockey Recruiting Process

As a parent, I have now gone through multiple “hockey recruiting” processes.  Beyond just club team tryouts, we have been through hockey academy recruiting, college hockey recruiting and even the beginnings of junior hockey tryouts.  No matter how things worked out with each team/school being considered, I have repeatedly been pleased with the life skills my kids have learned from the experience.  When I look back when I was their age, it would be several years into my college days before I would get exposure to many of these important life events.

I thought I would codify my Top 5 life skills kids can learn from the recruiting process.

1. Sales & Marketing

Even if you are a top talent player, you still need to let teams and coaches know you are interested in their program.  Sending “cold emails” is a great skill to learn at any age – but getting this experience as a teenager is a pretty amazing opportunity.  Learning how to introduce and promote yourself is not easy, especially in writing.  Then to also persuade the audience/coach with a “call-to-action”  (e.g. set-up a call, come watch me play, look at my video) is about as real-life as it gets in the sales and marketing world.

Furthermore, taking some swings when you know you will likely strike out is another great lesson.  I know of a few players who reached out to coaches when they thought the teams wouldn’t be interested, only to find out they were interested and there were other reasons for them not contacting the player.  You never know if you don’t ask!

2. The recruiting process is imperfect

The last company I worked at focused on the corporate recruiting process.  Very few companies are great at delivering a great candidate experience.  Most organizations have flaws because of the complexity and coordination challenges in organizations that are considering dozens of potential employees.   The same holds true for hockey recruiting.  It is unfortunate the number of times I have heard from parents and seen first-hand a bad candidate experience.  Everything from never getting a response from a team, a coach ghosting a player after having a call and agreeing to next steps or just not being transparent/candid  happens all the time. The college recruiting process isn’t perfect because coaches aren’t perfect.  Many have not had regular company experience, so they may not be well-trained in hiring best practices unless someone taught them how. Not all of them care about closing the loop with players they won’t be making offers to.  Good thing to learn for a teenager to learn at this age, because it reflects the real world.

3. Rejection 

Every player gets rejected at some point. Whether it is not making a team or not getting an offer from a school.  All the best companies (Google, Apple, Amazon etc.) attract the best people and reject the significant majority of folks who want to work at these companies.  So even if your dream was to play at Wisconsin, or if you set very realistic goals as your top choice school, sometime there isn’t a match.  However, things almost always work out in the end. You end up where you were supposed to be.  Dealing with a major “hockey career” rejection in your teen years is not only something you will recover from, it will also make you stronger.

4. The importance of references and a good reputation

In the real world corporate recruiting process, hiring teams do reference checks.  This is even more important in a team sport like hockey. Coaches will find folks they trust who really know the players they are considering.  Once again, I can think of multiple examples where a connection to the coach (former coach or teammate, parent etc.) helped  create opportunities or finalize an offer.  As a player, having a good character and ensuring people of influence at every level can vouch for you, is a big deal.

5. Decision making – Having lots of good options

Finally, if things go well on both the hockey development and recruiting side, you will have options. Sometimes it will be easy to pick where you want to go.  But sometimes, you will be in the fortunate position to have many great options.  Figuring out all the different factors and prioritizing them across multiple opportunities can be both difficult and stressful.  You may be afraid to make a life-impacting mistake. Learning how to make these types of decisions is probably the most important skill to develop.  These types of situations come up all the time and figuring out which one-way door to choose is a phenomenal experience to learn at such a young age.

Categories
2023 2024 Coaching Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Tracking Progress: The Evolution of Female Coaching Representation in NCAA DI Women’s Hockey

Back in 2020, when Champs App first started, we tracked the female representation in the coaching staffs at NCAA DI and U Sports women’s hockey.  Now, 3 years later, it is time to compare how the number of female coaches has changed during this time.

Over the past three years, there has been a notable increase in the representation of female head coaches within Division I women’s college hockey teams. In the 2020-21 season, female head coaches accounted for 14 out of 41 total coaching positions, comprising 34% of the total coaching cohort. However, by the 2023-24 season, this number has risen significantly, with 21 female head coaches out of a total of 44 coaching positions, representing an increase to 48%. This upward trend highlights a positive shift towards greater gender diversity and inclusivity within the coaching landscape of women’s college hockey, indicating a growing recognition of the value and expertise that female coaches bring to the sport.

While the ideal number is probably not 100% for female head coaches at the NCAA women’s DI level, it is nice to see the numbers continue to climb. Having spoken to so many male DI women’s coaches, it is clear that in most cases they are doing a great job in their roles. However, the much bigger opportunity is in increasing the number of female coaches on the men’s side of the game, where female coaches still represent significantly less than 1% at the men’s college level.  There have been inroads made over the last few years, with NCAA DI head coaches participating in NHL development camps. This season, Kim Weiss is an assistant with DIII Trinity and Jessica Campbell is an assistant coach with the AHL Coachella Valley Firebirds. But when it comes to full-time roles, I am still waiting to hear about female coaches even being considered for a DI or DIII men’s team head coaching job. 

From 2020 to 2023, there has also been a significant increase in the number of assistant or associate head coaches in NCAA Division I women’s hockey teams due to teams now being permitted 3 assistants. In the 2020-21 season, female assistant or associate head coaches accounted for 52 out of a total of 79 coaching positions, representing 66% of the coaching cohort. This number has seen a significant rise by the 2023-24 season, with 65 female coaches out of a total of 98 coaching positions, equaling the same 66% of the coaching staff. Conversely, the number of male assistant or associate head coaches also increased from 27 to 33 during this period, but their overall proportion remained constant.

During the time there has been significant increases in female coaches at the NCAA DI women’s hockey level for both head & assistant coaches, there has been no change in the number of female coaches in Canada U Sports women’s hockey. In fact U.S. teams surpassed Canadian schools in terms in percent female representation. Note: no data was collected for U Sports assistants back in 2020