Here is a topic that makes me cringe. College!
For hockey players. I heard a statistic during the Frozen Four telecast that the average age of a college hockey player is 23. Yikes. Hockey is unlike other sports such as baseball, football, etc. There are some, very few, players that go directly from high school to the college hockey ranks. However, most players stay in the juniors’ program until they age out at 20 years old and then attend college. Some players go on to play NCAA D1 and others NCAA DIII. If a hockey player wants to play hockey in college, he needs to earn that spot. They stay in junior hockey and are looked at by scouts, especially when playing for respectable junior programs.
The goal is to play NCAA D1 hockey. Not an easy task and we are very aware of what it takes to make that happen and the odds of it happening. Here is where I get upset. As a parent of a 2015 High School graduate who plays hockey, I am so tired of being asked, oh where is your son going to college. And then we have to give the same explanation over and over again. Hockey players usually stay in the junior programs to be seen by colleges. I even give the statistic of the average age of a college hockey player. Then we get, oh so he is not going to college. Well yes! He is going, just not now. We are sending our boy to college he is just taking a year off to play more junior hockey and see if he is good enough to be chosen by a D1 school.
Players can be seen early on in their career and commit to a college, but they continue to stay in juniors until you are ready to report to the college you signed with. Which is normally, not the year you graduate from High School. Hockey players are a different breed. It is truly unlike any other sport.
Our hockey player’s goal is to play college hockey. Education in our family is the most important thing. Going to college has always been the goal and will always be the plan. But when you have an athlete in hockey, the path is so much different. In some ways, I think taking a gap year between high school and college is not a bad thing. Maybe taking a year to play hockey, focus on getting bigger- better-stronger is the key to making that D1 commitment. A year of no school pressure may also allow you to explore further what it is you want to study in life. And answer the question, “What do I want to be in life?”
So Grandma, stop lecturing us how important college is, we know how important it is. We are a very non-traditional family, hardly ever follow the normal course of life. Why would we start now?
Family and friends we ask that you celebrate our high school graduate. Embrace his passion for the game of hockey. College is never off the table, we are just taking a different route to get there. Allowing our son to continue to see if he has what it takes and to never leave “what if” on the table.
Hockey has done more for our son than you can ever imagine. He is far beyond the years of his High School peers,.