Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – Team Open Camps Are The Death Of Player Hope

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I debate for quite a while on whether or not to speak my mind on the open camp subject.  It is the very tricky situation when discussing such thing.  They are after all the very important financial part of the team operation.  It is though a necessary thing to discuss in today game.

The individual team open camp, or pre draft camp, or the import camp, or the future player camp is nothing but the waste of time and money.  I say it.  I am not speaking about the big showcase event, those are useful, but the individual team camp event is the complete waste of time and money.

All of these team camp will become the death of player hope.  It is the strong statement I know, but it is true.

Player and parent who know no better think these camp actually present real opportunity to make the team because the scout or assistant coach tell them so.

“We just need to see more of you”, “We want to see how you play with certain players”, or “you cant come to main camp unless you come to open camp” are some of the phrase used to sell parent and player on these camp.

Then at the end of the camp the player hear the same thing, “you are just not quite ready”, “we will continue to watch you for next year”, “you were just outside of the top players this year” or some other excuse as they say thank you for the check.

How many time do the coach expect the parent and player to hear the same thing before the player start to believe he not good enough?  How many time to they need to be built up hope only to have the hope killed when there really was no hope at all to begin with?

Every high level team have the scouts.  Those scout work all season long preparing the list of player to draft, or sign.  The team open camp or the team pre draft, team prospect, or team import camp mean next to nothing when looking at real opportunity.

Without these camp though, team cant survive because they need the money.  Every year, they know there will be the new batch of player and parent to exploit.  The new batch of player and parent that have not figured it out, and wont figure it out until they spend thousand of dollars and waste a lot of time, while getting nothing but heartache.

I ask then, why do all of you who have gone through this not warn the players coming behind you?  Why do the parent not spread the word to other parent that these team camp other than main camp are useless?

I spend too many year now watching this grow and grow to into the ugliest part of junior hockey.  People complain about the cost of equipment, training and all the other things you must have to play.  Somehow tough they forget the real cost of opportunity.

Parent and player following the open and pre draft camp around the country should just by the lotto ticket because they have better odds to win the lotto.

I know though that some will read this today and forget they read it when they get the camp invite email tomorrow morning.  The drug addict forget the day he is sober once someone put the drug in front of him the next day too.

Coach