Quick, how many hockey clubs would take a sixteen year-old, six-foot two hundred pound, left-shot winger that scored 35 goals in his sophomore year of Minnesota high school hockey? Most everyone.
What if his "D" average grade just qualified him to even play, would they still take him? Unfortunately, most likely.
There is not a single advantage of taking a sixteen year-old with such low academic numbers. But teams do. At both Tier II and the pay-to-play Tier III.
Academically challenged players need to stay home and concentrate on their academics. The only exception is for those that get selected in the first two rounds of a major junior level bantam draft, and even then, I have concerns.
In reality, the foundation for academic success needs to be established long before age sixteen. Players should take their ABC's are seriously as they do their goals and assists from the first days on the ice. Coaches at the earliest levels should make it a point to include academic success as additional criteria for team selections.
Now, if that same player from above was carrying an A-B average into his junior year, then he should be a prime candidate for any top junior program.
Here is a question for all of you. Should junior leagues set minimum academic standards for undergrads?
Author: Stephen Heisler
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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