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An Advisers Life – The Number One Reason Most Players Fail To Reach Their Highest Level

December and January are the months when I typically get a lot of phone calls and emails from parents and players who are in their last season of junior hockey.

Whether the player is in the USHL, Tier II or Tier III, the question they ask is always the same. It is something along the lines of, “why don’t I have my NCAA commitment yet?”. Yes. Even USHL players ask the question.

There is one clear reason that every player who is looking for an NCAA commitment at the D-1 or D-3 level has in common in every case.

Players get so caught up in where they will play this year that they loose sight of the big picture. When “this year” turns into your LAST year you are left scrambling and not understanding why you don’t have your commitment yet.

I watch players for years. I watch them at camps, and I watch them during their seasons.

Far too often players and parents get caught up in the junior hockey camp race. If they are a Tier III player it is a constant race to Tier II. A Tier II player either chases Major Junior or the USHL. USHL players chase D-1 and the NHL.

All the while, NCAA programs are committing to players every day. D-1 or D-3 it does not matter, schools are filling their rosters.

Every junior coach at every level talks about moving players on. Whether it be to NCAA or to higher levels of junior hockey. Every one of them has the best of intentions when they have these conversations. The bottom line is that these coaches cant keep those promises to every player no matter how much they may want to.

Coaches simply do not have enough time. Time is the only thing you can never buy more of, it can’t be saved, and you cant go backward. So in a coaches day, after practice, after dry land, after video, after planning the road trip, and all the other things coaches must do in a day, there is simply not enough time to keep that promise to every player.

Time is also something players run out of every summer and in the season. Chasing the next level of junior and not taking the time to develop NCAA relationships will have you scrambling for anything at the end of junior hockey.

Relying on coaches who don’t have enough time is a mistake. Relying on playing in one league or another is a mistake. Thinking “if I am good enough they will find me” is the biggest mistake any player can make today.

You must have a plan. Playing and going to camps every summer is not a plan to succeed it is a plan to fail.

I know right now there are hundreds of Tier 3 players looking for that Tier II call up. That call up will not come for 99.9% of you. So instead of looking for it why are you not planning your NCAA path?

Right now there are hundreds of Tier II players looking for that NCAA D-1 commitment. That commitment will not come for 90% of you. So instead, why are you not planning your D-3 backup plan?

At the end of December in your last year of junior hockey, if you think you are going to receive what you have wanted for the last ten years but have not planned for, you are going to be left disappointed.

If you are not in your last year of junior hockey, look around the room at every 20 year old and take notes on who is committed and who is not. Most of them are not. Do not leave yourself in their position next season or a few seasons down the road.

Setting goals from year to year is great. But every goal must be set with benchmarks and the intention of using that achievement to further the ultimate goal. This requires a plan.

So I ask you. What is your plan?

Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser

[email protected]

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