I apologize for the week-long delay in the last installment of this “off-season” series. Once you read this third part of the series I think you will have a better understanding of why it was delayed. Last we left off was with Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Typically, once I get through all of the mid-week phone, and email work, I pack my car on Thursday night or very early Friday morning. In the “off-season” most of my weekends are spent at team tryout camps, and showcase events. Between April and September, I spent two weekends at home.
While much of my travel is limited to Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, and Ontario Canada, our company has thirteen other scouts and advisers active throughout Canada and Europe. I do try to make it out to the East and West Coasts at least one a year though. Most of those scouts and advisers operate on a similar weekend schedule as I do. This allows us to get looks at a very high percentage of players from Bantam Major through Junior.
I try to make it to any camp before noon on Friday if not earlier. This sometimes means leaving home Thursday night or as early as three in the morning on Friday.
Through this summer I watched close to two hundred games and practices scouting and evaluating more than fifteen hundred players from around the world. In many instances I have been able to watch some individual players as many as a dozen times or more. Seeing a player this often provides us, and others who seek our input a much better understanding of a players strengths and weaknesses based upon an expanded body of work.
Observing players and getting to know those strengths and weaknesses requires much more time than most would imagine. A player can have a great camp one weekend, and not so great another. It is the compilation of all of his efforts that allows for a much more accurate determination of where that player fits in.
Understanding where a player currently fits in, and being able to project development over the course of years operating in this way allows us to be honest with teams, and players in our evaluations.
The hardest part of the summer is the tryout process. Not only for players we work with, but for players we scout and evaluate in general. The process can be very taxing emotionally when rejected by a team. Unfortunately when this takes place and our opinion is sought, honesty is the only policy that can be used.
While we always want to see a player achieve success, and we are very good at placing our clients into a high probability of success situations, sometimes it just does not work out. Many factors play into this and they vary from camp to camp.
Part of the Adviser role is trying to see your players during the summer months. It is critical to see where their off-season training has helped them progress, and just as critical to see if they have followed the prescribed plan.
Many times a player is in a new city on his own and simply seeing a familiar face can help the player feel more comfortable and play more confidently. Providing insight after each clients game or camp helps in the evaluation process.
Networking with team personnel at these events is also critical to assisting players. Sometimes team staff will be more detailed in honest in their evaluation with the Adviser because it can take place during the camp process and not simply in a five-minute exit interview.
This said, I am very happy to say every player we represent has been placed this season. It is the second year in a row we have achieved one hundred percent placement before the start of the season. Every junior client having had at least one Tier II main camp opportunity, and a majority of those same clients received opportunity at the USHL, Major Junior, or highest levels in Europe. Many players are now playing at the highest levels of Junior Hockey throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
With the season at hand, I will keep notes on my weekly activity and when time allows will follow this series up with an “in season” series.
If I could offer one suggestion as players enter the season it would be this;
Make sure you have realistic goals, and don’t let anyone tell you that realistic goals are not attainable. Dont let anyone say you can not make it. Keep working, keep studying, and keep your mind open to learning. This game is not about a single destination, it is about the journey toward your own goals as a person.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher