Ice Hockey Scholarships
Get a Degree and Get Some Ice Time
Collegiate ice hockey for both men and women continues to get better and better. In the process you will find teams at all levels very competitive. Use this as a practical guide to finding quality ice hockey scholarships. Approach the scholarship process early in your high school career and keep your mind open: there are more opportunities than you think for very competitive hockey and more than one way to mine gold from a school.
NCAA Ice Hockey: Elite Skaters
NCAA athletics take center stage when it comes to media coverage of collegiate sports, especially Divisions I and II. This is where it seems the majority of very talented and accomplished college-bound athletes play, many for very good scholarship money. You must understand how the top level NCAA ice hockey programs function if you are serious about examining your scholarship opportunities in college ice hockey.
Currently the NCAA sponsors 59 Men’s Division I and 7 Division II ice hockey programs as well as 34 Women’s Division I and 2 Division II ice hockey programs. The NCAA divisions 1 and 2 are sanctioned to offer ice hockey scholarships. But each division has scholarship limits:
NCAA ice hockey scholarship limits:
- Men’s D1 ice hockey programs may each offer 18 scholarships.
- Women’s D1 and D2 ice hockey programs are permitted 18 each.
- Men’s D2 ice hockey programs are limited to 13.5 per program.
In Division 1 ice hockey both head count and equivalency scholarships exist. At the D2 level only equivalency. Equivalency scholarships are often split among a much larger group of ice hockey players, offered as partial athletic scholarships. While this may not mean a full-ride it does mean more athletes are paid to play. Also, coaches have more scholarship money than you think at their disposal: academic and need-based scholarships may be used to augment partial athletic scholarships.
Limitations of D1 Athletics
If it’s your dream to play D1 ice hockey be real about the commitment required. If you receive an ice hockey athletic scholarship from a D1 team you better expect to show up ready to give 150% to this effort and that’s after academics. You will have very little personal flexibility and your college career will be completely tethered to campus: practices and workouts often extend far beyond the official boundaries of an ice hockey season, so if your college plans included a summer long backpacking trip around Europe, you better rethink D1 hockey.
Guess what? Very competitive men’s and women’s ice hockey exists at all levels of collegiate play. And in many cases players get scholarships. We’ll show you how.
Getting Recruited for a D1 or D2 Hockey Program
The abilities of especially women ice hockey players are evolving rapidly. An athlete recruited as a D1 player a few years ago might be recruited as a D2 now. A couple of very important components of an ice hockey scholarship search:
- Make your academics at least as important if not more so than hockey.
- Contact coaches as soon as you are eligible and stay in touch.
- Research, research, research the programs in which you are interested. Know the coaches, know who they recruit, from where, and how. Access this information in press releases, news articles (Google News allows you to search by keyword), NCAA hockey pages, and even specific college hockey pages.
- Don’t leave out your academic expectations: make sure you like the school outside of its hockey program.
How to Win a Scholarship to Play Hockey at a Division III School
Ice hockey has become a college commodity. For example, consider how observed are even club hockey teams at universities whose other sports are top-level D1? In this type of situation you better bet very good hockey players opt for club play.
In Division III, notorious for non-scholarship programs, men have 71 programs and women, 44. Many of these teams offer challenging ice hockey. How can you get money to play? Well, no one will offer you money to skate, per se, but D3 schools are in the business to build their team reputations; they do this when they woo talented players. And players eligible for D1 and D2 teams occasionally choose a D3 school, particularly in regions and conferences where there is ferocious competition and media buzz. Hockey players in these situations have almost certainly been offered very nice academic or need-based scholarship money. Don’t kid yourself: you should be examining your chances at every level of play and at every type of college or university. If a school wants you on its ice hockey team, they will find money.
Make sure your academics are top-notch, along with your hockey record. Many coaches suggest really ratcheting up your junior and senior years in high school, especially with advanced prep courses.
NJCAA Ice Hockey—Untapped Scholarships
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) sponsors Division I men’s ice hockey. This level of play is quite competitive and programs offer scholarships to the right players. Full or partial scholarships may be extended. The secret to getting an NJCAA ice hockey scholarship is being motivated to seek one. Coaches at the junior and community college level are not funded for recruiting so you must mount your own grassroots effort to contact the coaches at the schools of your choice. If you overlook the ice hockey scholarship opportunities at NJCAA schools then you are missing a viable educational option.
Ice Hockey Scholarships You Must Not Miss
Check out these alternative ice hockey scholarships you will not find offered through college athletic budgets:
Amateur Hockey Association Scholarship
Applicants for the AHA Lou Manzione Scholarship must be high school seniors registered with USA Hockey. Applicants must also submit a high school transcript, GPA, class rank and SAT score. Selection is based on essay, academic achievement, and extracurricular activities, including community service, and teacher and coach recommendations. A 500-word essay entitled, "The Value of High School Hockey to My Personal Development," must accompany each application. There are two scholarships available: one goes to a New Jersey high school senior and the other to a high school senior from Pennsylvania or Delaware. The amount of these one-time, non-renewable scholarships is $1,000.
Pittsburgh Penguins Scholarships
The Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni Association Scholarship Program awards an annual scholarship of $2,000 to a Western Pennsylvania student who excels academically and has a demonstrated love for the game of Ice Hockey. Applicant must have a 3.2 GPA. Other selection criteria include community service, extracurricular activities and recommendation of high school hockey coach. Sportsmanship and leadership are also important selection criteria. This award, which is co-sponsored by the NHL Booster Club, is neither major nor school specific.
Pittsburgh Penguins/Bob Johnson Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior from Western Pennsylvania. Applicant must be a hockey player who has demonstrated outstanding talent and achievement on the ice. Applicant must have a 3.2 GPA to be eligible for this award, but at least as much consideration will be given to student's athletic achievement as is given to academic achievement. Selection criteria include leadership, sportsmanship, and character and conduct both on and off the ice, community service and extracurricular activities. Award amount is $2,500.