Why go to a Prospect Exposure Camp?
Well it is rapidly approaching that time of year again. I have been getting numerous emails daily about whether there is value in attending this camp or the other during the spring or summer? As usual, I won’t tell you to go to this event or skip that one, instead, I’ll give you an overall guide to what questions to ask of yourself and of the event organizers! Now, there IS VALUE in these camps, it just might not be what you expected! Bottom line though, we all have some inkling that these events are cash-grabs. It is widely known that these camps can provide a significant contribution to somebody’s income, but that does NOT preclude you getting good bang for your buck!!!!???
Let’s start with the Hockey Advocates Guideline #1 to Exposure Camps; Just because you got an invite to a Camp or event, don’t assume it is because someone noticed you and thinks the event would be a failure IF you didn’t attend. People Ask me all the time, “How or Where did that guy, or group get our email or phone number?” The truth is, Everyone who plays in any tournament, prospect event or on a REP minor Hockey Team gives out their contact information to ALL types of hockey related people whether you realize it or not. Everyone from Scouts, Coaches, GM’s and Agents to Personal Trainers or whoever has a hockey related business gets access to your information. This is to your advantage in most cases, you want exposure. If you understand this situation, then you will have an entirely different perspective on what it means when you get an invite to this camp or the other. That doesn’t mean the invite isn’t legitimate, it just means, you and the other 900 players in your age group got the same limited time offer! Ask WHY does this particular event provide value to your career path?
Of course, I’d be reckless to not acknowledge the benefit of a well planned and executed program for your son, but the good ones are the exception and NOT the rule. Are scouts present? Sure they are. Is your ‘diamond in the rough’ just in need of being at the right place at the right time to be discovered? That might be a little bit of a stretch. You have to ask yourself ‘Why are you going?’ From there, we can explore the real value for you based upon your motivation.
If you are looking for NCAA exposure, make sure you find out who really is coming to the event, and why they are coming? Are they paid to be there? Truth be told, they are a mixed-bag at best. Back in the day, there was definitely more scouts legitimately considering talent that they wouldn’t normally see. Today, there are so many of these camps out there that any individual camp has lost its cache. Also, the truly ELITE players have already been scouted in-season and if you aren’t going to end up playing in a good Junior A Tier II league, then your odds of a scholarship are slim anyways. I know more then a few NCAA or pro coaches that get flown in every year to Vancouver, Toronto, Boston or Vegas, all expenses paid, put in a few hours on the ice and end up with a nice 4-5 day vacation. Everybody wins, that is the event gets name value scouts in ‘attendance’ and players get to interact with next level coaches. Unfortunately, the player thinks he’s getting thoroughly ‘scouted’ when that might be a bit of an overstatement, to say the least. If you treat it like a summer hockey school where you get to skate with or interact with NHLer’s or elite coaches and maybe they will like what they see, then you are closer to the truth of the situation. Are players discovered and signed at these events? Of course they are. In fact, I’ve had two clients who had previously been ‘unknown Tier II players’ sign scholarships to top 15 NCAA teams by the end of the event. This isn’t likely to happen to you unless you are already playing at a certain level, like Junior A or maybe Jr. B. If you are in first year bantam or peewee, you need to temper your expectations. Compare events and if you feel the need to go to an event for NCAA exposure, do your research, ask everyone and anyone what their past experiences were and take what they say on their website with a grain of salt. Then choose the best of the lot which looks to provide the best all round value.
Junior A Tier II & Junior B
Overall, I would argue that if you are looking at being seen for the first time by Junior B and Junior A Tier II clubs, it is at this level where this type of event is most beneficial. Most of these teams have limited or even ZERO budget for their recruiting and a mega prospect camp is the perfect place for them to do a big chunk of their homework and player assessment for little cost. They certainly have more value then going to one or two rookie camps for an individual clubs. On a side note, this is also a great place for Junior A & B clubs to make a lot of ‘sales’ for their own teams’ rookie camps spots. By that I mean, they need to fill so many rookie or prospect camp spots for their own clubs, for later in the summer, which of course helps to pay their bills for the next season. Everyone, needs to cover their expenses and make a buck, but be aware that they need a certain amount of volume and if you are going to choose a team’s camp to attend, make sure that you are going with a legitimate opportunity, not simply another guy going through the revolving door who helps pad their bottom line. In general, if your primary goal is to gain exposure to Junior teams, more is gained through a direct tryout.
So if you are a typical above average player who has been overlooked or didn’t get drafted, these types of events are excellent for you to find a Junior team for the future. Ensure to use this event to learn how to showcase and as one part of your exposure plan in marketing yourself properly.
Next week we will look at the second part of this discussion. We will go a bit deeper, and examine the impact of these camps on different groups of players and the value of CHL exposure at these different events.