Hockey scholarships in the USA: The way to become an NHL player

It's not easy to make it to the NHL. Photo from Imperial College Union.

Hockey is a deeply-rooted sport in the US, with a number of educational institutions offering generous scholarships for prominent hockey players. NHL tends to be the top five leagues in the United States based on revenue. With the college essay writing service, we have put together essential facts about hockey in academia, including available scholarships and the requirements every applicant should meet.

Stats and Numbers

Hockey is very popular among students. The most significant number of hockey players is among high school students. In 2020, the number of US high school hockey players was over 45,000 for males and 12,000 for females. For college students, the number was around 4,000 and 2,000, respectively.

Of the mentioned number, only 10 percent of male and 21 percent of female students competed at the NCAA level.

During the 2019-20 hockey school season, over 150 schools participated in NCAA I, II, and III divisions.

For NCAA I, more than 60 schools received scholarships, of which total athletes were over 1,700 for males and 884 for females. When it comes to average scholarship, men were awarded 17,000 while women 16,900.

In turn, NCAA II covered only eight educational institutions. With 215 male and 132 female athletes, the average scholarship was 5,465 and 6,541 for men and women, respectively.

NCAA III made 86 schools and accumulated over 2,400 male and 1,500 female athletes. No information is provided about an average scholarship for both sexes.

Apart from the three divisions, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) provided a list of unique offers. In 2019, the organization covered 83 schools, offering eight scholarships per team.


Meeting Physical Criteria

Although there are no defined physical capacities students should have to become hockey players and receive a scholarship, it is still recommended to at least approach the following characteristics:

  • NCAA Division I: Height from 5 ft. 10 in. to 6 ft. 6 in.; Weight from 170 to 225 lb.
  • NCAA Division II: Height from 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 4 in.; Weight from 160 to 215 lb.
  • NCAA Division III: Height from 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 4 in.; Weight from 160 to 215 lb.

Types of Offers in Ice Hockey

Male hockey athletes can get one of the four different types of scholarships. These ice hockey scholarships are highly diverse. And even if students are not awarded a full-ride or partial scholarship, they can still earn a place on the list as a recruited walk-on or unrecruited walk-on. Here are the four types described more in-depth:

  1. Full-ride offer: Participants of the USHL junior hockey league are primarily entitled to receive full-ride scholarships. Yet, people from tier 2 junior hockey leagues can also try their chances of earning this scholarship.
  2. Recruited walk-on: Frequently, such offers don’t have any financial reward, at least for the first year of performance. However, it is an excellent chance to gain crucial experience and move forward to the NCAA and NHL leagues.
  3. Unrecruited walk-on: This is when an athlete and coach discuss the chances of getting accepted to the team. Such offers are rare, as students attempt to join the team through an open tryout.
  4. Partial support: This type is prevalent, and coaches often award partial scholarships to numerous recruits and roster spot holders. Recipients usually use such partial offers to cover their tuition fees, books, and other academia-related expenses. The great thing about this offer is that it can stack with other grants, scholarships, and financial aid programs.

Getting a Hockey Scholarship

It isn’t surprising that those athletes that compete in USHL junior hockey leagues have the highest chances of receiving the best scholarships and getting into the NCAA Division 1 and NHL league. Such hockey athletes tend to be the most promising players in the following years, so they are always in the spotlight.

However, it doesn’t mean that all the offers are allocated exclusively and automatically to the mentioned athletes. Student-athletes that don’t have a solid background also have an opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship. For those who are playing hockey in school and mulling over applying for a hockey scholarship, here are some essential points to consider:

  • Maintaining Excellent Grades: Indeed, playing hockey and receiving high grades is nearly impossible, as both activities drain an enormous amount of time. By no means will the committee require A and A+. Usually, it is necessary to have at least a 2.5 GPA. However, student-athletes who demonstrate stellar performance both academic and athletic-wise have higher chances of receiving a scholarship.
  • Adding Letters of Recommendations: Every achievement should be confirmed by a coach or educator. Student-athletes are highly encouraged to attach recommendation letters confirming their accomplishments.
  • Acing Exams and Competing Courses: Every student-athlete must complete 16 core courses and pass the ACT/SAT exam.

Institutions Offering the Best Hockey Scholarships

Various rankings provide different lists of schools that offer the best hockey scholarships and career prospects. Upon more thorough examination of educational institutions, their prestige, size, cost, and more, it becomes apparent that the following universities are the best for students invested in hockey:

  1. Princeton University
  2. Pennsylvania State University
  3. University of Michigan
  4. Harvard University
  5. Northeastern University
  6. Boston University
  7. Yale University
  8. University of Notre Dame
  9. University of Denver
  10. Dartmouth College

Top Three Alternatives for Student-Athletes

Although NCAA Division I, II, and III and ACHA offer scholarships, several additional grants are also available for hockey players. The three best ones are:

  • Lee Brennan Memorial Scholarship: The Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship Program is available for high school students who maintain a GPA of 2.0 or above. Candidates should fill out an application form and compose two essays on provided topics. Finalists can also be invited to an interview for advanced evaluation. The award amount ranges between $5,000 and $10,000 a year, depending on a recipient’s level of financial need, tuition, and any other circumstances.
  • Daniella Altfield-Moreno Scholarship: The scholarship is available for young Latino/Latina student-athletes related to the LGBT community. Applicants must fill out an application form, attach a letter of recommendation, and submit an essay. The award amount is up to $12,000.
  • Norman and Rita Nussbickel Memorial Scholarship: Student-athletes graduating from Arlington, Beacon, John Jay in the Mid Hudson Valley region of New York state have a great chance of receiving financial support. Regarding the application requirements, candidates must fill out an application form, attach an official transcript of records, a student aid report, a letter of recommendation, and an essay. The award amount is $2,000.

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