Ice Hockey Scholarships
Get a Degree and Get Some Ice Time
Combining your passion for game play on the ice and your desire to go to college may make a very sweet deal if you are dedicated to the hunt for ice hockey scholarships. In the past decade, collegiate ice hockey for both men and women has continued to improve, consistently getting more streamlined, better organized, and more well-funded.
As a result of this national progress you will find teams at all levels that are very competitive and constantly searching for future talent with a vengeance. If you have ever been to a game, you will know that college-level hockey is no amateur play. In order to be a very serious candidate for a scholarship award, you may need to display high grades, class ranking, test scores, or financial need as well as hockey prowess.
If you are interested in learning to put your talent in ice hockey to a good monetary end, use the information we have compiled as a practical guide to finding quality scholarships that reward your unique skill and competitive nature. Approach the scholarship process early in your high school career and keep your mind open: there are increasingly good opportunities to award very talented hockey players and endless ways to use these to your academic advantage.
NCAA Ice Hockey: Elite Skaters
NCAA athletics take center stage when it comes to media coverage of collegiate sports, especially Divisions I and II. Not only does it monopolize these channels, NCAA dominates the funding scene and provides over $1 billion of athletic scholarship monies each year. This ubiquitous national outlet is where it seems the majority of very talented and accomplished college-bound athletes play, many for with very substantial financial backing.
You must first 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 I and II are both sanctioned to offer ice hockey scholarships. Here are the scholarship limits for each category:
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 I ice hockey, both head count and equivalency scholarships exist. At the Division II level, only equivalency scholarships are present. Equivalency scholarships are often split among a much larger group of ice hockey players, offered as partial athletic scholarships. While this means not all may get a full-ride for four years of education, it does mean more athletes are paid to play.
Keep in mind that coaches have more scholarship money at their disposal than you might think: academic and need-based scholarships may be used to augment partial athletic scholarships. This is not to mention the general athletic scholarships that you are still eligible for, such as the Louisiana State University Tiger Foundation Athletic Scholarships.
Limitations of D1 Athletics
Those with a life dream of playing Division I ice hockey need to wise up and be realistic about the extreme commitment required for this endeavor. If you receive an ice hockey athletic scholarship from a D1 team, they expect you to give 100% to your game and 100% to your academics with no slacking off allowed in either arena.
Be aware that you may be living your dream, but during this time you will also have very little personal flexibility and your college career will be completely tethered to campus. Hockey 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 Division I hockey and go for something a little less demanding.
Nevertheless, the perks of an offer to play Division I ice hockey are unparalleled, and the chance can end up paying for your entire college education. The good news is that very competitive men’s and women’s ice hockey scholarships exist at all levels of collegiate play, so there is bound to be a comfortable niche for you if you are put in the tough place of balancing hockey, academics, and affordable tuition.
Getting Recruited for a D1 or D2 Hockey Program
Not only has ice hockey itself evolved rapidly over the past few years, the role of women as a competitive force in the field has evolved right along with it. Men have bumped up their proficiency, skill, and practice in the sport, as well. In fact, the standard of play has progressed so rapidly that an athlete recruited as a D1 player a few years ago might be recruited as a D2 now. With these factors in mind, it is important to keep a few components above all else as you search for ways to fund your education with ice hockey as a key tool:
- Make your academics at least as important, if not more so, than hockey. No recruiters want to accept an applicant that has either one of these out of balance.
- Contact coaches as soon as you are eligible for play and stay in touch. Send letters to introduce yourself. Tape and send videos of your best games.
- Research, research, and research again the programs in which you are interested. Know the coaches, know who they recruit, from where, and how they operate. Access this information in press releases, news articles (especially Google News, which allows you to search by keyword), NCAA hockey pages, and even specific college hockey pages. Make use of resources like Athletes USA to familiarize yourself with recruiting procedures.
- Don’t leave out your academic expectations: make sure you like the school outside of its hockey program. Get to know the extracurricular programs and courses as much as you know the hockey.
How to Win a Scholarship to Play Hockey at a Division III School
Ice hockey has become more than a game; it has become a college commodity. To illustrate this, consider how much attention is showered on even club hockey teams at universities where other sports are top-level D1. In this type of situation, even very good hockey players opt for club play.
In Division III, notorious for its non-scholarship programs, men have 71 ice hockey programs and women have 44. Many of these teams offer challenging game play and feature talented athletes. But how can you get money to play? While no one will offer you money to skate, per se, know that D3 schools, such as Amherst College, are in the business to build their team reputations; they do this when they woo talented players. Players eligible for D1 and D2 teams occasionally, and perhaps counter-intuitively, choose a D3 school, particularly in regions and conferences where there is ferocious competition and media buzz. The reason for this phenomenon is that hockey players in these situations have almost certainly been offered very nice academic or need-based scholarship money from the D3 university in question.
Don’t sell yourself short in this regard. It is important that you examine your chances for scholarship funding at every level of play and at every type of college or university. If a school really wants you on its ice hockey team, regardless of level, they will find the money and it will go straight towards your tuition. The key here is to make sure your academics are top-notch, along with your hockey record. Many coaches suggest really ratcheting up your coursework and grade averages during your junior and senior years in high school, especially with advanced prep courses and test prep.
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 the appropriate programs offer scholarships to the right players. Full or partial scholarships may be extended to deserving athletes who desire to attend a two-year school, such as Hudson Valley Community College in New York.
The secret to getting an NJCAA ice hockey scholarship is being doggedly motivated to seek one. Coaches at the junior and community college level are not funded for recruiting, so you must undertake 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 that should not go untapped.
Ice Hockey Scholarships You Must Not Miss
Check out these alternative ice hockey scholarships you will not find offered through college athletic budgets:
Atlantic 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 Inner City Scholarship was established to provide $1,500 to one deserving high school senior who is graduating from a school within the inner-city limits. The student must have a 3.2 GPA. Academics, volunteer work and community service, and extracurricular activities will all be considered as part of a well-rounded student’s application.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni Association Scholarship Program awards an annual scholarship of $2,000 to a Western Pennsylvania high school 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 positive attitude, leadership, sportsmanship, character and conduct both on and off the ice, community service and extracurricular activities. Award amount is $5,000.
Further Ice Hockey Opportunities
Between NCAA opportunities in three divisions at four-year schools and NJCAA awards at two-year schools, in addition to the smattering of other hockey scholarships that exist, the serious player should be able to find the right funding path for them to pursue. Remember while in high school to balance your research of hockey-related scholarships with keeping up your academics, so that when the time comes you will be well prepared to face the onslaught of judges and recruiters.
On your search, you may find that prime-time resources like the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association and USA Hockey will provide context for you and further your understanding of what coaches are looking for, as well as providing you with news and access to the constant progress of the sport. Beyond your degree, there are programs in which your pension for hockey can assist you in funding even graduate school, such as the NCAA Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship Program, which provides $24,000 for a student athlete to do graduate work.