ICE HOCKEY RECRUITING
COLLEGE HOCKEY SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION
Junior College Ice Hockey
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) sponsors men’s ice hockey at the NJCAA division I level. The NJCAA consists of ten schools. These schools compete in match-play against one another. Several of these schools are also members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and play against ACHA members. Additionally, many of the junior college teams compete with intramural college teams and other non-member teams. NJCAA schools include Broome Community College, Community College of Allegheny County-North, County College of Morris, Dakota College at Bottineau, Erie Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, Itasca Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, Monroe Community College, and Williston State College.
The Recruiting Process for Junior Colleges
Junior college ice hockey offers an alternative, or stepping stone, to landing a NCAA athletic scholarship. However, for several reasons, players interested in getting recruited at the junior college level must do a large portion of the recruitment work themselves. First, most junior college coaches do not have the large athletic budgets typical to NCAA coaches. Therefore, JUCO college coaches cannot actively recruit or hire scouts. Second, many junior college coaches do not allocate their entire recruiting budget because they are not approached by suitable athletes. They must contact junior college coaches, introduce themselves, and self-promote the skills they can offer to the team. Third, active junior college recruitment is limited by the number of scholarships that each college can offer. As opposed to NCAA schools, junior colleges can only offer 16 scholarships in total. Therefore, for a player to be considered for play at a junior college, players must contact a coach or recruiter, inform the coach or recruiter of the player’s playing schedule, and invite the coach or recruiter to attend one of their games. Follow-up and consistent communication is also necessary to ensure a position on a junior college team.
Athletic and Academic Benefits of Beginning College at the Junior College Level
Ice hockey is different from other college sports in that players usually spend two years playing at the junior college level before proceeding to compete at the college level. This is because in order to effectively recruit at the college level, coaches need to see players play. This they can do while watching players compete at the junior college level, which can be more informative of players’ abilities than what coaches may have been able to see at the high school level. Additionally, competition at the junior college level offers exposure to athletes not recognized at the high school level. At the same time, play at the junior college level permits players to develop and strength their game.
Beginning play at the junior college level also offers academic benefits. Similar to being an athletic stepping stone, junior colleges offer a smaller, more nurturing environment in which students can hone and perfect their study habits and academic skills while they prepare for the more rigorous academic requirements of NCAA colleges. In the smaller and more intimate setting, students can work closely with staff and faculty to identify their particular strengths and weaknesses so as to feel more confident when they arrive at the NCAA level. Thus, at the same time as players gain valuable athletic experience on the field, so they gain valuable academic experience in the classroom.