The Tryout Camp Process

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The Tryout Camp Process July 3, 2012 7:20 AM

Hockey in the United States is a growing sport in the youth and Junior ranks. Players are being developed like never before, that development has lead to the explosion of Junior Hockey at all levels.

Having attended no less than a dozen camps this off season for scouting purposes, one thing has become crystal clear. Players and parents are confused. Why? So many teams, so many tryout invitations, and so many of them are taking place at the same time.

USA Hockey needs to step in. In the United States a time line for tryouts at all levels of Junior Hockey should be developed.

The USHL is the top, tryouts for USHL clubs could take place in May. NAHL tryouts could take place in June, and Tier III tryouts could take place in the month of July and end some time in August due to the number of Tier III teams. Not that this schedule should be seen as the best way to do things, but some kind of schedule needs to be implemented.

Parents can not afford to attend dozens of camps all summer long. Players could start at the top and filter down. This would be similar to how the NHL, AHL and ECHL operate. There is a reason for this and it is to give each player experience, and an opportunity to earn a spot at a higher level while allowing them time to land in a specific role.

When all of the Junior teams are competing for the same players to attend camp, on the same weekends, in the same summer months, there is simply no way for parents to make effective decisions for their players.

If a player is confused or does not know what level he fits into, this process would allow the player to gain experience while figuring out where he fits in. It would provide a basis to make informed decisions on which camps to attend. It would make travel arrangements easier, and bring some order to what is largely a chaotic process.

When a player is forced to choose between a multitude of $300 camps, those decisions are based upon money and opportunity. If a player has a choice between a USHL camp or an NAHL camp, most go the USHL route hopping the NAHL team will pick him up if things dont work out. Most times, not attending that NAHL camp will then take you off their radar. Once off the radar, even though you are an NAHL level player, you may be forced into Tier III because there is simply no room left for you at the NAHL level.

With the USHL and NAHL drafts, these teams are constantly carrying over players from year to year. With that, free agents attending these camps should be more selective and creating a policy like this would be servicing USAH members in the most responsible way.

Organizing this tryout process could be pretty simple for the Junior Council to take on. It may also receive support from the Junior Leagues. Organization is one key to success, helping teams become more organized can only improve Junior Hockey as a whole.

Joseph Kolodziej

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