Sitting here typing away on my computer, I’m realizing that my body still isn’t back on track from my crazy week of travel. And at the same time, tomorrow I have to start planning my next scouting trip, which should be this upcoming weekend in Port Huron, MI. While all this can be exhausting, it’s nice to have the opportunity to see so many players in such a short period of time.
I ended up getting a hotel room for pretty cheap in Toronto Monday night, so I was able to stay at the tournament through Tuesday. My last two days at the Classic were spent, for the most part, very much like my first two – more games to watch, more people to meet. But as the tournament progressed, I found myself more focused on building connections rather than looking for new ones. Obviously, when you spend 12+ hours a day in an ice rink for a couple days, you meet a lot of parents and see a lot of kids that catch your eye. Usually, once I form a relationship (no matter how insignificant), I do everything I can to always be around. If get an “in” with some families of a certain team with some strong skaters, I’ll make sure to be at all of that team’s games for the rest of the weekend. By always remaining visible, hopefully I’m projecting the fact that I give 110% and truly care about the work that I do. It also usually creates some interest from parents wondering “who’s that guy who’s always at the rink?” Following up on leads like this didn’t get me any new advisees now, but it’s a process and most of the teams from the Classic will also be competing at the Silver Stick tournament this coming weekend.
After the games ended Tuesday evening, I hit the road for Cleveland, Ohio. Our goalie in college (and my former roommate) lives about 45 minutes southeast of the city, so I figured that’d be a good place to stop. In case he reads this, I should also note that after our 2003-04 season, he was named the ACHA Player of the Year. He usually pretends to be embarrassed when I talk him up like this, but I know deep down he loves it. Anyway, it was nice being able to hang out with him for the day, and later that night I had to meet up with Bridget. She and I talked for a while and overall it went about as well as I could have hoped. We’re not going to be getting back together anytime soon, but I think right now it’s for the best. It’s hard not having her around because she’d been my best friend for the past two years, but with so many things in my life going well right now, I’m doing alright. Sometimes these things just need to happen.
Once I left Bridget’s house, I headed into downtown Cleveland to meet up for dinner with a friend from Ohio Northern. Oddly enough I’d been somewhat seeing this girl right before Bridg and I started dating. It was great to catch up that night, but by the time I was ready to head back to another former teammate’s place in the city, he was out for the night. At that point I was so tired of living out of my car, I did the only rational thing I could do – I decided to just suck it up and drive back home to Chicago through the night. Getting back to my house at 6am local time was hard enough…getting up three hours later for two hours of pickup hockey with some friends made me question my sanity. I guess I really do love this sport.
Somehow I was able to make it well through midnight on New Years Eve, but on New Years Day it all came crashing down. I was completely wiped out, but thankfully the NHL had the prescription I needed – the Winter Classic. Last year I was lucky enough to attend the game at Wrigley Field, so only watching on the tube was a little depressing. But when you get to watch a game like that, it’s impossible to not enjoy it.
Beginning today I’ve got a lot of work that needs to get done this week. Besides just planning my itinerary for my next trip, I’ve also got to start working on getting some of these players exposure. As I said last week, for the most part, college and major junior teams aren’t going to spend much time, if any, looking at the Bantam Major age group. The tournament in Port Huron is only for the Bantam and PeeWee levels, so I’d be shocked if many scouts were planning on being in attendance. My hope, though, is to get some college teams near the Port Huron area (e.g. University of Michigan, Michigan State, etc.) to come out for a day. In the end nothing might come from it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. And at the same time, these colleges might recognize the fact that I’m trying to help them find talent for their clubs.
Since there’s a good chance no college teams will come, I’m also going to be looking for a good way to get some game film of these kids. If I can get a coach some footage of a player, maybe next tournament he’ll be interested enough to send someone to scout in person. I’ve been considering a number of options as to how I can get quality film, and tomorrow I’m going to see if bringing in a telecommunications student from the area might be a good way to go. I figure if a student wanted to get some experience working in sports, this could be an easy way for him or her to get that. At the same time, it might be the cheapest way for me to get some quality video.
Well as I said, I’ve got a busy week ahead of me so I’ve got to get to work. I hope you all had a safe and happy New Years. Next week I’ll fill you all in with the details from my weekend at Silver Stick. Until then…it’s time to hit the showers.