Pageants like Miss America or Miss Universe can have bad raps. But for one women’s ice hockey player in Massachusetts, the title of Miss Hockey is a serious honor.
The award, which has been given to the top female high school hockey player in Massachusetts for the past five years, is a cool way ESPNBoston recognizes top student-athletes.
This year, the winner of Miss Hockey is Alison O’Leary, a Class of 2016 forward from Reading, Massachusetts.
“Her ability to play her best hockey in the most needed moments this season for our team is why I feel she is the most valuable player in all of Division 1 girls’ hockey this season,” her coach at Reading Memorial High School, Mike Golden, told ESPN. “Every coach dreams of having a player like Alison. She has incredible talent, relentless drive and is a consummate teammate with no ego. She has been the catalyst of our program’s success the past three years and she is the first to lay praise on her teammates.”
Hoping for Division I
According to the Boston Globe, Ali and a fellow Massachusetts hockey superstar, Amanda Conway, both have their eyes set on playing at Division I.
“It’s definitely a reachable goal. It’s something that I’ve always wanted, to play hockey in college,” Alison told the Globe. “I’m dedicated enough to it that I think I’ll be able to.”
Amanda, on the other hand, has already decided that she wants to spend time at a prep school before going to college.
Taking time to develop skills and speed at a prep school or junior college is incredibly common, according to Drew Palmisano, head recruiting coach at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. Drew was a Division I hockey goalie for the Michigan State Spartans. “Players tend to be more physically and emotionally mature because of the highly competitive, fast and physical play at that level, which can set you apart in the mind of a college coach.”
How you should prepare for an ice hockey prep school career
If you’re thinking about taking the time to develop your hockey skills, one of the first steps is actually the same as looking at colleges: talk to the coach. Ask questions:
- Do you fit what the coach is looking for in a varsity player?
- What is their policy about playing on varsity? (Does “everyone play” or are there some players who stay on JV?)
- Do they have a record of moving developing players up from JV to varsity
Some coaches may go out and look for new players to fill in the missing ranks as players leave for college opportunities, so it’s important to know what it would be like to play at that school at either the JV or the varsity level.
There’s no magic formula
Unfortunately, there’s no three-step plan that will guarantee you’ll get everything you want out of hockey recruiting. Take the time now to get your name out there with an NCSA profile, ask questions of a scout who can help you understand your level of recruiting, and determine whether a prep school, junior college or going directly into a four-year university is best for you.