Scott Lowe - MYHockeyRankings.com
A topic that frequenlty comes up when players are looking to be recruited for junior and college teams is about contacting coaches of teams for which they might want to play. This has been discussed occasionally in previous articles, but I thought it might be helpful to post a series of email exchanges between a player and coach to better illustrate a good approach.
This email string was between a player from New Jersey who sat in on a Zoom ACHA Coach Roundtable that was held last spring and one of the panelists. The coach forwarded it to me because he was very excited about how the player approached him, the thoughtfulness of his messages and the follow up.
A few things to keep in mind:
- If the team has an online recruit questionnaire, fill it out first and let the coach know you submitted it in an initial email.
- You're not being annoying by emailing a coach. Coaches want to hear from players, and it is part of their job to correspond with players who are interested in playing for them. Just don't overdo it with too much information in the first email. Tell the coach who you are, where you play, a little bit about yourself as a player, your grades (even for junior coaches), what you want to study (if you know) and why you're interested in the program. If you are going to be playing games in a location near the program you have written to, it is a good idea to let the coach know and provide the schedule. More details can be added in follow-up emails.
- You're not being annoying by following up, even if the coach hasn't responded. Again, don't do it every week and don't provide too much information. Remind the coach who you are and that you reached out before. Provide an update on your season. Maybe include some video from a good game (not a highlight video, but video of complete shifts from a full game). If you are playing in a location near the school you have written to, as mentioned previously it is a good idea to let the coach know and provide the schedule. Let the coach know if and when you might be looking to visit. Sending this kind of update email once a month should be fine and indicates a level of maturity and interest the coach will appreciate. Part of this process includes building a relationship with the coach. Coaches want to get to know the players they are recruiting so they have an idea what type of person they are recruiting, and players should be trying to figure out if the coach's personality and style is going to be a good fit.
- Tailor each message to a specific coach and school or team. Don't just copy and paste. Mention the coach and the program by name in the first email and provide a few details about the school and/or the hockey prorgam and what you know about either or both. The core of the email can be copied and pasted, but it's important to give each message a personal twist to show the coach that you are truly interested in that program and willing to take the time to get that point across.
- Make sure each email is your best work. Proofread everything and write as if you are being graded on an assignment. Be courteous, polilite, professional and thankul.
- Having video of your full shifts and you playing in all types of situations is always part of the recruiting process, but having that video ready to send to coaches and scouts of programs you are interested in is essential right now given the current COVID-19 restrictions on travel and interpersonal interaction. Many coaches simply are not allowed to travel and watch players in person. Pull video of good games as your season progresses and have it on standby so that you don't have to scramble if a coach asks for it or put it all together when your season is done. This process of corresponding with coaches should be ongoing throughout your season.
Now, take a look at the email exchange below between a prospect and a coach as a guide. The first email was sent in May and the latest was sent a few months later:
Hello Coach Name,
I am writing to you for two reasons, first to say thank you. I was on the ACHA roundtable Zoom call this past Monday 5/11. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us all, it was informative and helpful.
Secondly, I was hoping to learn more about (School Name) and the hockey program. I am a high school junior this year and hoping to play club hockey in college. I'm sorting through my options as my senior year approaches. I'm not sure what I'd like to major in yet. As for the hockey part, right now I am not planning on playing juniors. I'll be coming straight from high school trying to make a college club team.
This past season I played 16AA/AAA in the NJYHL and USPHL, and I also played for my high school team. For the coming hockey season (assuming the rinks open), I'll probably play U18AA which is pretty solid hockey here in NJ, and I expect to finish my high school playing career as a four year varsity player. I noticed on the your team's hockey site you have recruit skates and tours. I'd love to come out for a visit, and skate, whenever that becomes available.
I have been looking around on the ACHA website and I notice it lists only 11 games, then on youtube there's games against ACHA D2 teams. So I'm sure I don't understand the divisions and schedule yet. It's not super important, but if there's some info or something I should read please let me know.
Thanks again, Coach. I appreciate your guidance and all you do for the hockey community. It's nice to meet you albeit this way.
Best of luck this season, and be well.
Player Name Here
Hi Player Name,
Great to hear from you. Thank you for reaching out. It was an interesting Zoom conversation. I was really taken aback as to how many coaches spoke about their programs in a way that was about numbers both in terms of wins but also number of recruits they have. With the growth of club hockey, there is also a growth in programs with coaches not exactly treating players like people.
As you may have gathered on the phone, (School Name) Hockey is coming off our fourth winning seasons in five years in 2019-2020. While (School Name) continues not to be an NCAA varsity team (no athletic scholarships available, but we do offer SMART tuition rates… see link below), we are at least able to try to provide that same varsity experience to athletes in our program. We practice twice a week, and with my access to a gym (two dryland sessions per week), classrooms, and exercise facilities, we also have full access to the same sport-science training staff and facilities as our NCAA Division I athletes. With my sport-management students needing experience administering and managing sport programs (my real job!), I also have a full slate of graduate students who market and sell our program.
We were in the ICHC two years ago. With conference play starting in December and January, I found it hard to get games in when two of our weekends were in Northern Indiana (because of weather cancelations). We decided to look elsehwere for various other reasons, too. We are being considered for the SEC, which would mean warmer travel.
The ACHA website isn’t always the best indication on team records as some schools may not turn in their game sheets (we were 12-8-1 and at one point listed at 1-8-1). We do play a lot of Club D2 teams on our schedule as they are close by, which was another thing missing in our discussion on Monday; the top half of ACHA D3 teams are better than the lower half of the ACHA D2.
We went through an amazing building process from 2013-16. With many of those kids graduating in 2018, it has been back to a rebuild. I think we are on the right track, with many kids with similar playing backgrounds as you coming aboard this season.
As for myself, I am a three-time provincial champion ice hockey coach in Canada, a holder of the Canadian Hockey Association Advanced I Coaching Certificate and a Masters Degree in Coaching Studies from Central Michigan University. While pursuing my Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico, I guided the UNM Ice Wolves in 2006 to an 18-6-2 record and a Southwest Showdown Tournament Championship in Dallas, Texas. Prior to UNM, I was fortunate to be involved in one of them miraculous moments as a Coach winning provincial and Atlantic Canadian regional championships with the Pownal Midget AAA Red Devils in 2004. I spent some time in Saskatchewan, my resume includes a Queen City League Championship with the Regina Bantam AA Hawks in 2002 and League and Provincial Championships with the Notre Dame Bantam AA Hounds in 1999 (tried to recruit some kid named Sid Crosby to Wilcox, SK... he went to Shattuck). My first experience as a coach came as a young assistant winning a provincial championship leading to an appearance in the Air Canada Cup Midget Championships with the Charlottetown Midget AAA Abbies in 1997. I have also coached Midget AAA hockey in Saskatchewan (Curtis McElhinney, goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lighning played for us that year) and in the Central Junior A Hockey League in Ottawa, Canada and Men's and Women's NCAA Division III tennis at Nichols College (Massachusetts).
As you can see by the video below, we draw real good crowds at our games!
We just appeared in a campus newspaper story…
As stated, we do offer students SMART tuition rates…
If you ever come to visit, don’t be afraid to bring your gear. Since we are not an NCAA program, we usually allow kids on the ice at practice to see where you might fit. I always like to know where students might see themselves academically so I can set up a professor in your field as well for your visit. If you or your parents have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I am really looking forward to meeting you.
This is all very helpful and exciting. Cool vid.
I will stay in touch, hopefully things get back to normal and I'll be able to visit at some point soon. My dad is an airline pilot for United, I've thought of aviation as a major which I know (School Name) has. But the point is, we fly for free so I can get out there easier than maybe some people, thanks for the offer to bring my gear. I'd really like that.