Since the first collegiate women’s hockey team was established in 1965, the sport has grown to include more than 100 teams across the NCAA Division 1 and Division 3 levels, as well as the NAIA. Women’s hockey is also a growing college club sport, with 64 women’s club hockey programs governed by the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Recruits will find many of these women’s college hockey programs in the Northeast and upper Midwest regions.
To earn a college roster spot on one of these teams, recruits need to be elite athletes that consistently compete on a strong travel hockey team. To separate themselves from the competition, recruits should create an NCSA Recruiting Profile and highlight video, send introductory emails to college coaches and attend tournaments and prospect camps where college coaches will be present. Recruits will also need to familiarize themselves with the NCAA rules and calendar. When college coaches are permitted to begin contacting recruits, student-athletes should focus on clear and timely communication with coaches.
To help student-athletes through the exciting recruiting process, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to women’s college hockey recruiting.
According to the NCAA recruiting rules and calendar, Division 1 college coaches are prohibited from contacting student-athletes until after June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year. While this is the official start of the college recruiting process, the reality is the process starts long before this date.
Before college coaches can contact recruits, they spend a great deal of time researching and evaluating athletes to build a prospective list of recruits to follow. To build this list, coaches will browse recruiting networks, attend hockey combines, showcases and tournaments and watch athletes they work with during college hockey camps. This section helps recruits understand what steps they can take to grab the attention of college coaches as they build their recruit list prior to the official start of the recruiting process.
Competing for a collegiate hockey program is a significant step up from being on a high school hockey team. During the recruiting process, college coaches look for strong athletes who they feel will seamlessly make the transition to college hockey. This transition includes an increase in practice time, an elevated level of competition and, for some, the pressure of retaining a scholarship. As student-athletes adjust to their new athletic schedule, they will also have to manage rigorous college academics.
Visit our section on the recruiting guidelines to learn what college coaches look for during the recruiting process from skating ability to position-specific skills and more.
Because there are no NCAA Division 2 women’s hockey programs, athletic NCAA scholarships are only available at the Division 1 level. Women’s hockey is an equivalency sport, which means hockey coaches take a pool of scholarship money that they are allotted each year and divide it up amongst recruits on the roster. Fully funded hockey programs have the flexibility to award full-ride scholarships, but not all programs receive full funding. As a result, it’s more common for recruits to receive a partial scholarship.
Athletic scholarships are not permitted at the NCAA Division 3 level. Recruits looking to compete for a Division 3 program can shoot for a merit-based scholarship. If they meet the school’s academic standards, this can help cover the cost of college. In this section, we go into more detail about women’s college hockey scholarships.
For a shot at competing in women’s hockey at the collegiate level, recruits need to know how they can effectively promote themselves to college coaches. This includes building a recruiting profile, creating a highlight video and reaching out to college coaches. Equally important, recruits need to be familiar with the NCAA academic eligibility requirements to ensure that they are eligible to compete if they are recruited by a college program.
In this section, we answer the questions: “What are my chances of playing women’s college hockey?”; “When does the recruiting process for women’s hockey begin and how does it work?”; “How do college coaches discover women’s hockey recruits?” and more.
A recruit competing in a travel hockey league likely competes in more than 40 games each season, but recruits will likely only see college coaches at a very small percentage of hockey games. To evaluate recruits, college coaches rely heavily on recruiting video, which allows them to save money and time during the recruiting season. To ensure that college coaches can watch a recruit compete, the recruit needs to create a recruiting video that highlights their skillset.
This process starts with capturing game footage and editing the content into a three- to four-minute video of 20–30 strong clips. In this section, we explore the process of making a recruiting video and explain how student-athletes can share their video with college coaches.
College coaches typically budget to attend at least a few hockey combines or tournaments each recruiting season. These events give college coaches an opportunity to assess talent and help recruits gain exposure and access to coaches. Not sure what tournaments and camps to attend this year? We’ve built an entire section around these events to help recruits understand the value of these opportunities and which events will offer them the most exposure to college coaches.
Finding the right college starts with the recruit first identifying what they are looking for athletically, academically, socially and financially. Once the recruit understands what they are looking for, what’s next? We suggest starting with NCSA’s list of top-ranked women’s hockey colleges. This section provides a comprehensive list of women’s hockey programs across NCAA division levels, the NAIA and the ACHA.
Aside from NCSA’s women’s hockey recruiting guide, resources such as USA Hockey and College Hockey Inc. are filled with advice and helpful tips to guide recruits through the college recruiting process.
To see hockey rankings that also consider college cost, location, size and academics, student-athletes are encouraged to reference NCSA Power Rankings and the NCAA’s website. Using data such as U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, 2017 IPEDS graduation rates and 2017 IPEDS institutional net cost, NCSA Power Rankings help recruits find the right college fit for them.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.