A few years back, we had syndicated our hockey radio show to include Ann Arbor, MI (WTKA 1050). The first show of the season featured Red Berenson, Head Coach of Michigan. I had a brief stint with Coach Berenson in the eighties and maintained a good relationship with him. It was a big deal to get him on the show. Our other guest was a young, first year USHL goaltender from our home market, Rochester, NY.
The young goalie was on a fantastic run. He won Nationals with his U16 team and had worked his way unto a USHL roster. His rise in the hockey world was quick. He was not known nationally nor on the radar of major schools. Further, he was still a junior in high school.
To set the scene. We were broadcasting from a studio in Rochester, Red Berenson is in a studio at WTKA in Ann Arbor while the young goalie is on a phone in Chicago. We interviewed Coach Berenson first. As expected, he was a wonderful guest that offered plenty of insight to both players and parents.
Next, we interviewed the young goalie. He too, was a splendid guest. He was respectful, polite and above all, his communications skills were brilliant, considering his age.
The hour long show came to an end. Although a very good show, my attention turned to other hockey related issues and no more thought was put into that particular broadcast.
The next week we found out that the show had started a chain of events that would change that young goalies life and the direction of Michigan's hockey team.
Speaking to Coach Berenson a few weeks later, he explained it like this. He said that he enjoyed his time on the show and decided to tune in and listen to the show on his way home. While driving, he heard this young goalie being interviewed. He was so impressed, he called his assistant coach. They were in Chicago within 48 hours to see him play.
You see, Michigan currently had a great underclassman goalie. He was also a first round draft pick (#6 overall) and had announced he was leaving after that season. This left Michigan with an unexpected hole.
Within a short period of time that young goalie visited Michigan and committed to the team for the next fall. Not an easy task seeing that he had to complete a whole senior year of high school after his junior season ended.
The young goalie did finish his coursework, obtained his high school degree and became the starting goalie at Michigan shortly after.
Why do I think this story is important? Because the goalie was not noticed first for his skill. He drew attention for his off ice demeanor. His politeness, his maturity, and communication skills triggered a legendary coach to seek more information on him.
There is no doubt this goalie would have been successful with or without the radio show appearance. It may have been a few weeks or a few years before he secured a college scholarship. Who knows?
My point is every player has choices and doing small things the right way matters. I would argue that a player from age 14 up is on a constant job interview for a quarter million dollar scholarship. This means you have to consider many things.
1. There is a right way to dress and act in public.
2, There is a right way to cut your hair.
3. There is a right way to utilize social media.
4. There is a right decision regarding tattoos and piercings.
These are not my rules on what coaches see as acceptable, nor are these rules set by parents. These standards are set by professionals looking to make a big financial investment with little risk and maximum reward. The question is are you going to limit yourself by making choices that you, as a player, completely control?
If there are 60 college coaches and 10 judge you negatively on the way you dress, you just reduced you scholarship odds by 17 percent.
Of course, some of these issues are not as important to some coaches. Do you think you have the time to personally poll each coach on their criteria? The answer is no. A smart player reduces roadblocks because small things matter in life...all of the time.