Q: I've noticed on social media that many kids around this age are committing to college. Is this normal? My child is 15 and has not had any contact with college teams. Is there something we should be doing?
A: Times have changed quite a bit with kids committing to college at a younger age, but I would not go so far as saying that committing at 15 is the norm. Social media can make it seem that it's happening a lot more than it actually is. Also, keep in mind that these commitments are verbal only, meaning that they are not binding in any way, and the school or athlete can de-commit at any time. For example, if an athlete commits at 15 and his or her level of progression never meets expectations, a school can decide not to honor that commitment. This works the same with the athlete, as he or she could decide not to honor the commitment and choose another school. The more binding and meaningful commitment – the National Letter of Intent – cannot be signed until at least Grade 12. For more information on that, please click here.
There are no guarantees in life, but if your son or daughter’s goal is to play college hockey, there’s a different type of commitment that matters most. He or she must commit to pursuing that goal on and off the ice. Your child should learn to be a great teammate who is coachable and willing to put in the extra work that some may not be willing to invest. Same goes for off-ice work in terms of their strength and conditioning regimen, nutrition and academic grades. They will open a lot more doors to success simply by being a good student. Your child needs to understand what it takes to be a college student-athlete and be willing to put in the work.
The most important thing is to have patience and enjoy the youth hockey experience with your teen. These moments go by quickly and there’s no need to be in a rush for anything. Thinking about college can sometimes add pressure on a young kid that is not needed. Everyone has his or her own path and athletes peak at different times. There are many very good 20-year-old hockey players committing to college this year to play in the upcoming year. I would say that scenario is more normal then the early commit. Playing college hockey, whether it’s NCAA D1, D3 or ACHA, is an unbelievable experience that will create memories that last a lifetime. I wish you and your child all the best.
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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