Stephen I agree with you completely that we need to address academics. The purpose of USA Hockey and especially the junior program should first and foremost to provide a player with the tools necessary to obtain a scholarship at a good school and those tools are both on and off the ice. It is sad that we are caring too much about the player scoring goals and not enough about making academic goals.
I would like to see USA Hockey and AAU Hockey take steps to address the academic issues and I believe that here are three things that should happen and all are related. Firstly, I'd like to see the creation of a USA Hockey/AAU Hockey Education committee that would set up educational standards; secondly each league (from Pee-Wees on up) should have educational advisors, the lower levels utilizing local school counselors and trustworthy volunteers while the junior level would have a full-time staff member that would also act as the NCAA Clearinghouse officer, finally I would like to see USA Hockey/AAU Hockey utilize software that every player and their respective school administrator would be able to access as part of the player's USA Hockey membership where they could keep track of their academic records and chart progress towards graduation and NCAA eligibility.
Agree, academics are actually more important, however don't think it should be up to USA hockey/AAU to monitor. Over the years the academic requirements have evolved and if the player/student and parents aren't aware of them, they've had blinders on. Even if Mason has been in 9 different schools, it's hard to believe that they are unaware of the NCAA clearinghouse and the academic requirements.
Academics are not the responsibility of USA hockey it is the responsibility of the parents and player. Every player is one injury away from never playing again and the best thing they can do is develop the one tool that will be with them forever, Their Brain!!!
Here me out parents I have 3 children 2 who are playing college sports and one who will when she graduates. The message at my house has always been the same. Get straight A's thru high school and a solid score on your ACT and you will open opportunities you never thought where out there. For every grade below an A you close a door so make sure you put as much effort into being a top student as you do being a top athlete.
Student Athletes at the D1 level are under a tremendous amount of pressure. As Well it should be because they are help paying for your child to get an education. Most people pay to go to college but "SOME" elite athletes are given full rides. For out of state tuitions that cost is around 40,000 or higher, so they are paying your child 160,000 to play a college sport and to do that you need to be academically eligible to play and currently the NCAA rule is a 2.0 or higher. If your child grades are not even that at the high school level why would they even consider risking such an investment on a player who may be able to keep up his grades to play.
Parents this is your responsibility put as much emphasis on education as you do your sons dreams of playing pro hockey.
Most players at the junior level have too much free time on their hands. Just watch the videos that appear on different websites. I'm not against having fun but character counts. We stress that juniors is not only about hockey but about developing the whole person. That includes practice, strength training, healthy diet and who they want to become as an adult. Some players want to go to NCAA schools, some want to go to community colleges, others have already chosen a field to work in. But when a player says at the beginning of their first year they don't know what they want,then it's time to help them figure it out. They have two years to get it done.
The parents aren't the only people responsible for a players education. All teams in Jr. should have a volunteer education advisor who
knows the rules & regulations of how to get through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Many players are trying to get scholarships that are not
eligible. Who is to blame? Both the Parents
and the Jr. Teams. Parents and players have to
research when seeking out a Junior Team. Make sure they have a education advisor on staff or
someone who on their staff who is in the know with regards to eligibility requirements and knowledge of the NCAA Clearinghouse. Many players today are playing Junior thinking that they are eligible when they are not. All leagues are guilty of this as they have some teams that don't offer guidance in this area. Parents and players heed this warning "Long time person-short time hockey player" But even
better advice! Do your research as to where you are sending your kids. Do not be afraid to
Legislating academic checks/balances should not be USA/AAU hockey's vision or direction. This should be the vision of parents & skaters.
Junior Hockey is a business, no mistaking that. If you have a solid program that also enhances academic/community awareness and accountibility, terrific. In all cases, your skater is an element of a corporation that will eventually depreciate out.
Regulations by USA/AAU hockey, as suggested, and in all "business climates" are due to people not doing thier honest best in the first place - Did "Mason's" parents do what was in the best interest of him or the community he lived/will live in, probably not.
Coaches & programs always sell, sell, sell - would you invest 100k without doing your best in research? You will fail sometimes, but, give it your best shot to "know"
Free enterprise is our foundation, however, social responsibilty is a must too. Indeed, some will pass your skater along as a number; that is ok if you all have done your diligence in the classroom, community and more.
This is the economic trade-off(skaters use hockey & hockey uses the skater), but, always/always realize that pursuing knowledge lasts a lifetime. All roads lead to beer league hockey, so embrace the fun, it ends soon!
posted Jun. 1st, 2012 - 4:29pm
KJ Lahti says:
Where do I start with this story. What were the parents thinking with his grades? They failed to be a parent!
I used to assistant coach at private NCAA D3 programme in Wisconsin and we got Emails and Letters from so many kids just like him who's grades were 2.0-2.25 and a ACT of 14-18 yet their parents had spent good "Tuition" money to play in the Junior A Tier 3 system. What a waste of time and money for the kids and the parents. The college I coached at would take student athletes who's grades were 3.5 and ACT of 26 and above.
Alot of these kids such as "Mason" should be looking at this point at a community college "Williston State and Dakota College at Bottineau" for 2 examples in the midwest where they can play some very good hockey, but more importantly work to get their grades up so they can be accepted at a state university and play Club Hockey. (which out west some of the teams will play in front of 2,000 plus fans each game. USU, University of Arizona, Minot State. Eastern Washington University who plays in the BC College league, and some of the teams in Colorado for example. You look at the rosters of these teams in the ACHA and the players are coming from Junior Programmes such as NAHL, SJHL, SIJHL, AJHL, etc.. Many of the teams have a player or 2 who played at D3 and D1 programmes, yet wanted to practice only 3 days a week and play more games 30+ and at least out west play in front of more fans then just about any D3 programme outside of Plattsburgh State and Union College.
I've known NCAA D3 programmes in the State of Wisconsin and Club Hockey teams in Michigan where they will have a try outs of 60-80 kids who all played Junior A hockey, who are so sure they just did not get their chance to play Division 1 hockey, but will be able to walk on to the D3 or the ACHA club team and be a superstar and they can't even make the D3 or the Club Hockey Programme.
I have a grade school friend who's son played 2 years of NAHL hockey and his dad was sure after the first year of NAHL hockey that he was going to get that D1 Offer. Guess what in the 2nd year of his NAHL career he played for 3 teams and his stats were very underwelming to say the least.. A good kid, might be a 5th or 6th defenseman on a weaker D3 programme. But at least his parents who are educators made sure he had a 3.5+ grade point average and a 26-28 ACT score, they knew that education was more important in the long run.
I've done Junior Evaluation camps where parents would tell say to me "My kid is going to play D1 hockey" and I would have to hold back my laughter and say, "I hope he has the grades, because being on the best player on their local high school team in Ohio or Indiana isn't the same thing as playing high school hockey in Warroad, Roseau or Edina Minnesota and by the way you child can't turn well in one direction or can't skate backwards at a decent speed and his wrist shot and/or slap shot can be stopped by any decent girls high school hockey goalie.
My advice to parents is this. If your child doesnt' have a 3.0 GPA or higher and at least a 22 ACT don't waste your "Tuition" money on some Tier 3 hockey programme. And to me if you have those grade and you want to spend 1 year of "Tuition" money on a Tier 3 programme ok, but after that first year out of high school if he hasn't made a NAHL or a USHL team it is time to focus on your education and play Club Hockey.
posted Jun. 1st, 2012 - 4:37pm
KJ Lahti says:
Division III hockey: High schoolers pushed aside by older players
Division III hockey used to be a reliable Plan B for high school players failing to land on a Division I roster. But now college coaches -- even in the MIAC, which has no athletic scholarships -- are recruiting older junior hockey players.
The MIAC is comprised of relatively small, private schools that, as NCAA Division III members, can offer no athletic scholarships. Less than a decade ago, the MIAC recruited most of its players directly out of high school. This season 78 percent of the league's varsity players are products of the junior hockey ranks.
It is not an exaggeration, league coaches and players say, to conclude that almost 80 percent of the league's players still carried hopes of playing Division I when they finished high school.
The MIAC boasts a pair of NHL draft picks -- Hamline's Troy Hesketh, selected in the third round by Edmonton in 2009, and St. Thomas' Chris Hickey, a seventh-round Wild choice in 2006. There are about a dozen Division I transfers, several former players from Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault (Minnesota's equivalent of a hockey prep school), three Swedish teammates at St. John's and 11 Canadians and a Czech player at Concordia (Moorhead).
The reason for the MIAC's shift in recruiting base from high schools to juniors, and in some cases foreign players, is part of a national trend in college hockey. The MIAC, in fact, is a relative latecomer to recruiting juniors compared to many Eastern schools and rival Wisconsin state colleges such as UW-River Falls, Stevens Point and Eau Claire, which average about 90 percent former junior players on their rosters.
The MIAC has not had a team in either of the past two NCAA Division III Final Fours, and never has won an NCAA hockey title
For many years the Washington Capitals have sponsored their "College Hockey Fair" at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The College Hockey Fair allowed junior high and high school aged hockey players to discuss with USA Hockey, NCAA and NHL officials what it takes to prepare for and what it means to play college hockey at either the club, Division 3 or Division 1 levels.
One of the most memorable presentations was by USA Hockey's Walter Bush where he broke down the GPA requirements it takes to play hockey at all the NCAA D1 schools. He "matter of factly" told the kids that as your GPA lowered your chance of playing in college diminished.
Mr. Bush's presentation should be viewed by all USA Hockey members that are interested in continuing to play hockey after high school. The presentation made a big impact on my young hockey players and was undoubtedly the best advice for their future.
The Jr. College route has been terrific for some close friends and a couple of nephews - they skated, matured and are on their way to a positive post graduate degree at a four year school, plus they got to skate an xtra 4 years, not a bad way to end your youth hockey.
Dustin Penner skated at Bottineau during his youth, I believe.
If they can play, people will find them -
My experience with Div 1 recruiters is that if they are going to offer a player a scholarship they will have had him on their radar screen for some time. They make contact with the player and the parents and let them know they are interested and what is required academically in order to recieve the scholarship. If this was happening then she would have known why no offers were forthcoming. Sounds to me like this kid just didnt show enough talent or potential to interest the Div 1 schools. The odds of this kid coming out of this league and making a CHL or ECHL team as a walk-on are very very high. Not saying its impossible but just a very difficult thing to do. Their rosters and filled with major jr and Div 1 players. If cant attract the attention of US colleges its very doubtful CHL or ECHL teams would be interested.
USA Hockey REQUIRES all junior teams to have an educational coordinator. The mnjhl had them in place last year and some teams offered tutors.
posted Jun. 4th, 2012 - 1:34pm
KJ Lahti says:
My problem is with the parents who did not focus on his Education, instead thinking their child was the next Great one. They failed him as parents. It is nice that there is an educational coordinator with a team, but it has to start with the parents and the player to motivate them to get the grades so they can use their talent to help them get an education so they can be accepted to a college or university.
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