Tryouts this year were held on April 20, 23 and 25. I had a feeling we would be seeing a larger than normal crowd by the number of calls and emails I received from interested players in the weeks leading up to the tryouts. However, you often get what I call "tire kickers". People feeling you out but no real interest so at best I am guarded in my optimism. On the first day there was a slow trickle of girls registering. With less than 30 minutes to go there were only 8 girls signed up and all were returning players. And then in comes Nicki, one of our goalies in crutches. A rugby injury. Not too encouraging. Howeverm when I return few minutes later there is a crowd around the registration table.
By my count we had 31 girls on the ice that day and a total of 39 girls tryout for the team over the 3 days. I would say we normally see between 20 and 25. What was particularly surprising was the number of players from other organizations at the tryouts. I turned to one of the other coaches as we were about to start and remarked that there were a lot of girls out there. With these numbers it begins to be a challenge to pick out the talent. We strickly run skating, stickhandling and shooting drills with an emphasis on the skating. But with so many bodies in motion it can become a little chaotic. Early on there was a particularly large girl who collided with another skater. The poor girl when down like she run into a truck. It turned out to be an early end to her tryout as she had to be helped off the ice by our trainer.
Our philosophy is that you only get one offer and you need to respond that same day. Too often we have girls who hedge waiting for a better offer. Meanwhile there is a dressing room full of girls dying for a spot. That way everyone knows where they stand right away and we can move on from this part of the process. On the first day we made 12 offers and 10 say yes. The remaining 7 spots were filled at the second tryout. We end up with 8 returning players; 3 players moving up from our Bantam B team; 1 player from out Bantam C team; one player from our Midget A team; 2 players from our Midget BB team; 1 player from Mississauga; and finally 1 player from Etobicoke. A very experienced team with 12 players in their 3rd year as Midgets, 1 in her 2nd year and 4 in their 1st year.
Someone once described tryouts as the "Month of Lies". People will say anything when it comes to tryouts. I usually can't wait for it to be over. It's stressful for everyone - players, parents and coaches. Players want to play with their friends. What will the dressing room be like? Will these coaches be fair or will they have their favourites. Some people get what we call the "letter syndrome". All that is important is that they make a "AA" or "A" team. What they often find is the calibre of these teams can be poor and are they can be very uncompetitive. Each year we have players from higher levels come down to play because they are tired of losing. I've seen parents take their daughters from one tryout to another to the point where they can't really skate very well because they are exhausted. It's no fun for coaches either. They hate having to tell players that haven't made the team. You hope that you make good decisions based on skill and team chemistry but how can you really evaluate someone properly based on drills done over an hour with 25 or more players on the ice. I've seen players who can do these drills very well but have no hockey sense. While others are not that flashy during the drills but turn out to be higher energy players during games. We try to get out to see other teams in our organization where you might draw players from so that you can have some idea what the players who may come to tryouts look like in games. When it's all finally over - the lies, the tears, the dealmaking, you can go back to playing hockey and having fun.