Decision time, there are many choices on who to play for with Pay to Play hockey and then there are the questions you ask yourself. But I think for our family, we have finally come to a decision. However, I say “we think” because we still question ourselves, are we making the right choice, is it a good team, do they have capital, etc.?
We base our decision on many things, is the coach reputable, will my kid play or be scratched, and of course, what is the cost. I previously mentioned in an article the first year team charging $11,000, um, I think not. They are immediately off the list. But in our list of criteria, they failed in all areas. We do not want to base our decision solely on cost, but that is certainly a factor. Our family has developed a list of questions to ask ourselves, kind of a pro and con list, if you will.
First year teams scare us, big time! Do they have the capital to sustain, are they using your deposit to become a team and pay for everything to move forward and be a team. Which leads to our first question is the team established in the community and do they have money behind them to be sustainable?
Next questions, coaching, is the coach reputable, does your player fit with the personality of the coach? Does the coach take the time to talk to your player prior to signing? I don’t mean about how big the locker room is or how many people attend the games. NO! It’s about how many times a week are you on the ice, what about off ice, is there a gym, do you have a training coach, what equipment is provided etc. If the answers satisfying and you are confident in those answers then good they go in the positive column, question #2 gets checked off. Side note, if you are promised things, put it in writing. Put it right into the contract.
Question #3, the owner of the team, are they respected, do they do the right thing? This is where research comes in. Do the research, the web is a wonderful thing and can dig up lots of solid information good and bad. After we researched a specific team as an option for this season, we actually said no to a team this year solely based on the owners reputation. We are not interested in going to a team with a bad reputation there are too many other good choices, its pay to play, there are many choices, don’t settle. Do your homework.
Questions 4, where in the world do they play and who do they play. We personally struggle with the “Independents”, for us, maybe different for you, but being in a reputable leagues make more sense. The question then becomes: what league do they play in, what is the quality of the league, how many teams are in the league, etc. Do they promote your player? Look at the team and how many kids have developed and moved up and on. Please, please if it is a brand new league with the promise of a gazillion teams forming. RUN!
Question 5: What is the Billet situation, I want to talk to the family, meet the family, see the home where my player will be living. I am not saying that they need to live in a mansion, but I expect a reasonable home that is not overcrowded with players. We have criteria for this on our list: Do the billets have kids, how many, how old, how many other players are they housing, how far from the rink is the home. This is a whole other pro and con list. We have had wonderful billet families and we have had nightmare billets as well. Ask the questions, it is your child and he needs to be comfortable wherever he stays. We have moved our player out of one billet to another during the season for various reasons. But one billet home I literally would wake up in the middle of the night and say to myself, If that crammed housed catches fire, my kid will never get out. There were so many beds in one room the windows were blocked! No way, we got him moved immediately.
These are some of the questions on our list when looking at a team for our player. Now it has not always been this way but over the years we have learned, you have to ask the questions. We needed to stop thinking there was only one team who wanted out player and we had to take the offer no matter what. Trust me it is Pay to Play, many will take your money. Few will do the right thing. We are hoping this year that we have done our homework asked the tough questions, got truthful answers and that we have chosen the right team for our player take his game to the next level and become a better player and person.
I hope to have positive updates for you throughout the season. Only time will tell if our Q&A really works. Hopefully we have learned enough and this is the year our player is looking for.