USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Kyle Winters was a standout high school pitcher who tossed seven scoreless innings in a major tournament during his senior year. That performance against some heavy-hitting future MLB draft picks helped Kyle earn a full-ride scholarship to the University of New Mexico. However, Kyle opted to play professional baseball and was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the fifth round and played seven seasons for various minor league teams. Kyle is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Looking to play ice hockey in college? Gain exposure and get evaluated by coaches at a college ice hockey camp. Attending a camp gives you the chance to develop your skills on the ice, test yourself against elite competition and explore a school you may one day attend. To help you save time, NCSA has compiled a list of every 2019 men’s and women’s NCAA DI, DIII and junior hockey camp in the country. This definitive list includes the date, division level, name, age/grade level and cost of each camp.
What are the three main types of ice hockey camps?
Prospect camps: These camps typically feature 75 percent evaluation and 25 percent training. This category includes ID camps, exposure camps, spring camps, evaluation camps and tryout camps. In most cases, only the host school’s coaches and players will be attendance to lead drills and evaluate recruits. If you’re already interested in the school and on the coach’s radar, attending a prospect camp can be an important next step for your recruiting progress. You’ll have the chance to ask lots of questions and get a feel for campus life. And if you’re an upperclassman, you may even get a scholarship offer.
Skills camps and clinics: These camps typically feature around 75 percent training and 25 percent evaluation. Some ice hockey skills camps and clinics offer general drills and instruction, while others are more specialized and focus on developing specific skills: power skating, agility, puck skills, stick handling and shooting. In addition, some skills camps provide specific training for goalies and defensemen.
These camps typically range from 1-4 days and often include meals and room/board. Skill developmental programs and academies offer training over the course of 2-4 weeks. Ice hockey coaches from several programs will often be on hand to lead drills and instructional sessions. These camps may include some gameplay for evaluation, but their biggest benefit is expert coaching and skill development from top American and Canadian ice hockey coaches.
Team camps and pre-draft showcases: These camps place the highest emphasis on gameplay and evaluation. Team camps and pre-draft showcases typically feature tournament play between high school or travel teams. At the highest level, team camps and showcases are invite-only and often draw college coaches from 20-30 ice hockey programs or more. While these camps can include a few drills and instructional sessions, the focus is primarily on team play in a high-pressure tournament setting. Looking to cast a wide net and get evaluated by multiple coaches at once? An ice hockey showcase or team camp might be your best bet.
Read more: Top college men’s ice hockey programs
Which 2019 college ice hockey camp is right for you?
If you are serious about playing ice hockey for a particular school, you need to get evaluated by the coaching staff. Your best shot at getting evaluated in person is by attending a ice hockey camp. You can either sign up for that college’s camp or find another camp where their staff will be working. It’s not uncommon for Division III, NAIA and junior hockey coaches to volunteer at major Division I ice hockey camps.
Read more: Top college women’s ice hockey programs
Three keys to a successful ice hockey camp experience
You’ve researched your options and made your choice. How do you make sure the camp pays off? Here are three keys to getting the most out of your ice hockey camp.
Be prompt. When it comes to college ice hockey camps, early is on time and on time is late. Double check registration and start times and give yourself plenty of time to get suited up and on the ice before things get under way. You don’t want to miss any drills or instruction from coaches.
Be prepared. Double check your bag to make sure you have all your equipment. Bring plenty of tape, an extra stick, a water bottle labeled with your name and anything else you might need. If the camp is overnight, you’ll need to pack extra clothing, toiletries and bedding. Check the website — many camps include a packing list.
Be positive. College coaches are looking for recruits who are coachable and demonstrate a positive mentality on the ice and in the locker room. They’re evaluating your body language and attitude in addition to your skill. Staying positive at all times will show coaches your mental toughness.
Follow up after the camp
After everything wraps up, make sure to follow up with the coaches you connected with during the camp. Thank them for the opportunity and ask for feedback on skills to improve. Keep the conversation going by sending updates whenever you have something noteworthy to share — an updated highlight video, your latest academic transcript and any new verified stats are all great reasons to send an email.