Thursday, April 13, 2017

It's the Most Miserable Time of the Year

Tryouts started last night.

Four skates on consecutive nights this week. Two skates the next week, and two the following week.

If you're a parent, tryouts are the worst time of the year.

The best time? The day after tryouts are over, if your kid makes the team. That's a relaxing day.

You may be thinking that it shouldn't be such a big deal, because there are lots of teams, right? Technically, that's true, but if Eli 15.9 wants to play D1 in college--and he does, very much--he has to play AAA this year. 16U is the biggest recruiting year, by far.

Largely, kids at AA don't get recruited. High school kids don't, either (the best high school hockey in Michigan is the equivalent of high AA). There is a huge gap between AAA and AA, so recruiters are going to spend 90%+ of their time at AAA games.

Then there's the squeeze.

Some kids Eli's age played 16U last year (they played up), so some spots on any 16U team are already filled by kids who played up last year. In Eli's case, one of the goalies on the 16U team was playing up last year, so he's guaranteed a spot.

That leaves one open spot.

There aren't really open spots on teams in the Detroit area. I think one team has one goalie position open--all the others are already filled.

This is make or break, really.

Last night, there were 80+ kids on the ice, split between two sheets. Twelve goalies, although those are all the kids trying out for both the 15U and 16U teams. Huge tryout.

The skate lasted 90 minutes. Eli didn't give up a single goal.

Not in the opening drills, where you're seeing a shot every 2-3 seconds. Not in 3x3. Not in 4x4. Not in 5x5.

It was stellar, but other than me, I don't even know if anybody noticed.

There aren't any goalie coaches evaluating the goalies (which is standard for any tryout), and the coaches have to spend the vast majority of their time watching the skaters, because there are so many of them. So there's no way to know how much the coaches even saw.

I do know one thing, though: they didn't see him give up a goal.

I like the coach. He's very down-to-earth, he's fair, and he sees Eli working at the rink all the time. I hope all of that works in his favor.

This whole tryout process makes parents (including me) incredibly nervous, but the one person who wasn't nervous was Eli. "Dad, nobody's taking this away from me," he said. "I got this."

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