By Steve O’Brien
AT GCA, we have asked hundreds of Men’s College Hockey Coaches this question:
Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
We have received a range of thoughtful and relevant responses from Men’s College Hockey Coaches across Divisions I, II and III. We wanted to share some of the best answers to give young hockey players some perspectives that they might be overlooking and motivating them to put more emphasis on these qualities to reach their goals and become a College Hockey player:
Craig Russell – Plymouth State University – Head Coach
The quality that we look for first and foremost is overall talent. Not just individual talent, but the ability to make plays, and make players around them better. We also look for strength/fitness level, and tools such as shot, hands, stick, etc. All of these things are important to us, but it is very important for me to address the character of each individual. I will speak with their coaches and find out what they are like off the ice.
• Do they take their education seriously?
• What are they like around the team?
• How do they handle adversity?
• How do they interact with new players if trades are made?
• Are they coach-able, and do they respond well to being taught?
These are all questions I will ask, because I can tell if they have the skills by watching a couple of games, but only the coaches have a more intimate perspective. I take character and team chemistry very seriously, and believe it is impossible to win without them.
Mike Young – Westfield State – Assistant Coach
Obviously, skill is a must, but besides that, we look for all around good kids. Kids who have showed they give a full effort in all realms of life and always try to better themselves as an athlete and as a person. What I personally look for is for motivation. You never want a kid to come in and be complacent in the spot he/she is in. Even if the athlete is your top recruit, you don’t want them to be complacent; you always want them to want to get better. I also want to make sure that the athlete is willing to do whatever it takes to be a positive part of the program and team and really be a solid teammate. If we ask you to penalty kill and you have never done it before, are you going to try and learn and be the best at it you can. If we ask you to play a different position than you are used to, are you willing and able? In NCAA athletics, players that were formerly the best players of their teams have to come in and fill roles that they are maybe not accustomed to, and their willingness to accept those roles and thrive at them says a lot about their character and their chances to succeed in the NCAA. The player has to realize that while it may not be the role they are used to, in the NCAA especially, each role is vital to the programs success.
Jamie Rice – Babson College – Head Coach
There are two distinct evaluations we make in evaluating a potential recruit; on ice and off of the ice. On the ice we want players who have/are:
1. Skating is the number one trait we want, and we want speed and quickness
2. Hockey sense and how they play the game, including but not limited to; decision making, understanding of the game, effort away from the puck, coach-ability
Off of the ice:
1. Good kids who are good students
2. Kids from great families, close knit and kids who are respectful to their parents/coaches/siblings
3. Kids who understand the COMPLETE opportunities here at Babson
Mike Curtis – Saint Anselm College – Assistant Coach
When I’m out recruiting, I look for a few different qualities in our potential student athletes. I believe work ethic is a major quality an individual must have in order to be successful at this level. Work ethic comes from within. Nobody can hand you a strong work ethic. It shows the true character of an individual and what he or she stands for. Team is another quality. As a Coach, we want young men who can put their personal battles aside for the betterment of the Team. Individual goals are good, but the Team is the most important thing. The last quality we look for and there are more qualities, but it would have to be Leadership. Leadership can come in different forms. We look for student athletes that are both leaders on and off the ice. We want individuals who want to get involved in the community and give back.