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12U Q-and-A: Is it Necessary to Play Tier I?

04/03/2020, 3:30pm MDT
By Richard Hansen

Q: My son is 12 years old.  Does he need to play Tier I next year to have a successful hockey career?

A: Thank you for the question. First off, a successful hockey career does not always mean playing Division I college hockey or playing in the NHL. There are many people out there that deem their time in hockey a major success because of the values they learned from the sport, whether it be hard work, handling adversity or commitment.  

Many of these values, along with the friends they have made through hockey, have sculpted who they are today as a person. Now if playing at the highest level is your kid’s number one goal, then no Tier I is not a prerequisite to playing at the higher levels. If your child is ready, and the environment is appropriate, Tier I hockey is great. However, in my opinion, I would not force your kid to try to make that jump if they’re not there yet or feel “left behind” if they don’t feel ready. 

Many great athletes just needed a little more time to develop both mentally and physically before moving to the next level. Patience is the key. If the program you are at is serving the athlete first, and you have been seeing improvement year to year, then maybe staying could the best choice. It is important to look at the program in its entirety and focus on the experience they are delivering. It is not always about just looking for the best team to play on. 

About the Author

The author, Rich Hansen, played four seasons of NCAA hockey at Mercyhurst College, amassing 127 points before embarking on a six-season playing career in the professional hockey ranks.

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Tag(s): Q&A Articles