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Invitation Season in Junior Hockey

Real Talk from a mom who has been there

My son is playing college hockey now, so I’ve been through this invitation/recruiting season many times. I was always amazed at how much money people blew going from camp to camp all summer long. At literally every camp, there would be groups of parents standing in the lobby talking about this. These parents would spend thousands of dollars on flights and hotels and food every weekend all summer long. It’s a waste of money and time.

I get it. It’s not easy to evaluate all these “opportunities” that fill your inbox, and I’m not saying there isn’t any opportunity there, but I can tell you that the vast majority of these invitations are playing on your FOMO (fear of missing out) and your hopes of making a tier 1 or 2 team. Can you be an unknown, show up to camp, and make the team? Yes. That happens, but that doesn’t mean it happens at every camp. They’re hoping you think it happens more than it actually does

I also understand there are advisors out there saying the same things I am. You’ve probably seen articles on their websites or their social media posts and thought, “they are only saying this so I pay for their services.” Yep. There is a tiny bit of that happening, but I can tell you that they are NOT lying about those emailed invitations.

How do I know? My son and I are both still getting emails inviting him to these camps, and he hasn’t been eligible to play junior hockey for two years now. When they’re sending out camp invitations, they are trying to fill the camp. They aren’t checking Elite Prospects to look at stats or birth year. If they did even that tiny bit of research that takes seconds, my son wouldn’t be getting invited. He can’t play junior hockey. If they aren’t willing to even take 5 seconds to look you up, why would you think you are getting more than a glance at their camp? They’ve shown you with that action (or lack of action) just how interested in you they actually are. When someone shows you who they are, you should believe them.

Another time, I was sitting in the lobby because my son was getting ready to get on the ice. A coach was there meeting a buddy who brought him some lunch, and they weren’t sitting far from me. I overheard the friend ask “Don’t you need to watch this game?” and the coach replied, “Nah. This isn’t our main camp, and we’re probably not taking any of these kids.”

Now, I’m not saying don’t attend ANY camps. You can’t make a team without going to main camp. I am saying going to every camp probably isn’t going to produce the results you are looking for.