Are you at the stage of your career where moving away from home is inevitable?
This can be a difficult transition in your life. You’re leaving behind your family and friends as you pursue your hockey aspirations. This can be just as challenging on parents as well. In one sense, they are proud of you for reaching the next step in your hockey journey, but in another, they are seeing their child leaving their house.
Leaving home as a teenager has it challenges, but these few things can make your transition a little easier.
Learn How to Cook
You’re going to be placed with a billet family who will prepare meals for you, but you need to understand each billet situation you encounter will be different. You might live with a family where both billet parents work or you might live with a retired couple who are home all the time.
It is better to prepare yourself for whatever situation you might experience.
Now, I’m not saying you have to become some “master chef,” but having a couple of meal ideas you can execute by yourself will be highly beneficial.
My suggestion is to have a couple of meals in your repertoire for breakfast, lunch, and pre-game.
Here’s my checklist of a few things it would be helpful to learn to cook on your own:
- Your favorite protein(s)
- Eggs (sunnyside up, scrambled, hard-boiled etc.)
- Chicken breasts
- Sweet Potato
Having the ability to cook healthy breakfasts, lunches, and pre-game meals will help you keep your nutrition where it needs to be to perform at a high level.
The offseason is a perfect time to learn or refine your cooking skills. Ask your parents if you can help cook dinner with them. Get involved in the kitchen; you’ll be thankful you did.
Learn How to Do Laundry
This one might seem simple, but for me growing up, my parents did my laundry. I assumed they just took my clothes, tossed it all in the washing machine, and the result was clean clothes. Before I left for Junior, I made sure I had an understanding of the proper laundry procedure such as:
- Clothing that needs to be separated (i.e. colors, whites and darks).
- Handwashing and delicate cycles. Lululemon and other workout clothing will last much longer on a delicate cycle, something I didn’t realize until I needed to learn to do laundry on my own.
Another handy lesson is how to iron your dress shirts. The old saying goes “look good, feel good, play good”, so on game day, it’s essential to be looking sharp. You don’t want to be the teammate going to games with a wrinkly dress shirt.
Research your Coaches and Support Staff
Make sure to know who your coaches and assistant coaches are by name. If you’re a shy person, or not sure how to engage in conversation with your coaches, check online to see if and where they played hockey to use as a good conversation starter.
It is also smart to look up a photo of them, so if you run into them unexpectedly during camp, you know who you are talking with.
Knowing who your equipment manager and trainer are is just as important. I’ve had an equipment manager on my teams for 14 years, and I have yet to come across a bad one. Equipment managers are the glue that keep the day to day hockey operations running smoothly. Treat your equipment manager with respect, and they will make your life a whole lot easier.
You should also reach out to your former teammates or friends who have played for your coach in previous seasons. If you can’t find any, find someone who played against your coach’s team in past seasons. It is nice to have an understanding on what style of play your coach implements with his teams.
Make a Good First Impression
The fitness test is your first opportunity to show your new organization what you are all about. If you show up to training camp in shape, the coaching staff will know two things:
- You put the work in during the summer
- You care
When attending your on-ice sessions during camp, make sure your dressed appropriately. Each organization will have their own dress codes. I’ve played on teams where you couldn’t wear your hat backward. My advice would be to “look the part” and don’t look like you just rolled out of bed.
Research Your New City
Try familiarize yourself with your “new home.” Google things to see, things to do, restaurants or shopping malls.
If your new team plays in a larger city, such as Calgary, Vancouver, or Edmonton, for example, use Google Maps to get familiar with some of the major roads and intersections.
Make Sure Grades Are a Priority
If you know you’ll be leaving home before you’ve completed high school, make it a priority to challenge yourself to maintain good grades.
There are two reasons for this:
- It will make life easier for you in trying to complete your high school education in another city
- Down the road, if you choose to attend University in Canada, your High School Grades can be the difference between getting into the program you want or having to take open studies and try transfer into your desired field of study
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