Kim McCullough

The three “A’s” of hockey scholarships

By Kim McCullough, M.Sc, YCS

One of the most common questions I get from players, parents and coaches about the whole college hockey recruiting process is “What are the scouts looking for?”

There is really no easy answer to this since a college hockey coach needs to fill their roster with players who fill a position and role, which changes year-by-year based on their team’s particular needs.

To keep it simple for you, I’ve broken it down into what I call the three “A’s.”

• Academics   

• Athletics   

• Attitude

Academics: When it comes to academics, the better your grades and test scores, the easier it is going to be for you to get into the school. Having high marks and scores will only help you throughout this process. I’ve seen far too many players focus all their time and energy on the hockey side of things only to miss out on a great opportunity because their academics weren’t up to par. Remember, you want to use your ability to play hockey to get a better academic opportunity. You aren’t chasing million dollar NHL contracts; you are looking to get a great education that you can use for rest of your life.

Athletics: Coaches aren’t just looking for the players with the best skills. Don’t get me wrong – your skating, shooting, stickhandling, passing and checking are critical to you getting noticed, but college coaches need much more than that. They want to see competitiveness and consistency. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win a battle on the boards or a race for the puck? Are you as good in the fourth game of the tournament as you are in the first game? Coaches and scouts are also looking for signs of your coachability, your sportsmanship, your work ethic with and without the puck, as well as your work ethic on and off the ice. These aren’t always things they can see directly from the stands, but a quick conversation with your club coach or opposing coaches will tell them a lot.

Attitude: Last, and certainly not least, is your attitude. To be honest, I’ve heard from many college coaches that a player could have great academics and athletic ability,  but if they have a bad attitude, they won’t be able to go anywhere. They need to be able to visualize you being a part of their team. They want to see how you interact with your teammates, coaches and opponents. They are watching you when you walk around the rink. They see how you carry yourself away from the ice. This stuff matters. It is about much more than just your playing ability.

Bottom line: They are looking for the COMPLETE PACKAGE. That’s what the “3 As” are all about. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and discipline to get there. But the payoff is worth it.

For a step-by-step guide to the whole scholarship process, visit Coach Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is an expert in the development of aspiring female hockey players on and off the ice. She is a former NCAA Division I captain at Dartmouth and played in the National Women’s Hockey League for six years. She is currently the Girls Hockey Director at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto and is the Founder of Total Female Hockey.