Hockey, Eastern Shore, Maryland, Ice Hockey, Easton IceHawks

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Eastern Shore Hockey Association (“ESHA”)
Tryouts and Team Selections Policy

Policy Statement:
Tryouts and team selections will be conducted in a fair and impartial manner under the direction of the Ace Coordinator (or the ESHA Board if the Ace Coordinator is also the coach). All slots on all ESHA travel teams are open for competition. Selections will be based upon the player's abilities, attitude and the coach's view of the needs of the team. Positions will not be "promised" to a player prior to tryouts, whether the player is currently with ESHA or from another organization.
Attendance at Tryouts:
Players wishing to play for an ESHA travel team must participate in the scheduled tryouts unless special circumstances (e.g., illness, injury, special family circumstances) warrant a waiver of this requirement by the Ace Coordinator (or the Board) for the relevant team. Waivers can only be granted for returning ESHA players.
ESHA prohibits the recruiting of players. ESHA Board members, coaches, managers or other officials may not directly or indirectly promise a player a position on any ESHA team.
Conduct of Tryouts:
Tryouts will be conducted in a fair and impartial manner. The Head Coach, in consultation with the Ace Coordinator, shall be responsible for establishing the proper number and structure of tryout sessions.
Team Size:
The size of a given team will be within the discretion of the Head Coach, in consultation with the Ace Coordinator, and the only minimum or maximum requirements are those established by USA Hockey; 11 and 20 respectively. For example, if 15 players try out and the Head Coach deems it best for the team to select only 13 players, that result is permissible so long as the Coach has complied with the selection criteria set forth in this Policy.
Team Selection:
All slots on all teams are open for competition. The only exceptions to this rule are situations where a head coach has a son/daughter who is eligible to play on the coach's team. Sons/daughters of coaches may generally be selected in advance to be on the parent's team. Otherwise, a player may not be promised a position on an ESHA team prior to tryouts.
The Head Coach is responsible for the choice of players for his/her team. Such decision should be made in a fair and impartial manner, based upon the player's abilities, attitude and the needs of the team. Player evaluations will be based upon the following criteria:
Individual Skills: A player’s skill and ability include forward and backward skating, stick handling, passing and shooting
Defensive Hockey: Position, back checking, poke checking, forcing play to a bad angle, challenging the puck carrier, puck support
Offensive Hockey: Position, shooting, passing, puck handling, puck support
Team Skills/Attitude: Coachability including discipline, listening skills, work ethic, respect for coaches and teammates
Ranking Skills: Players will be ranked by a scoring system defined by the independent evaluators (coaches and helpers both on and off ice). These scores will be weighted between demonstrated skills and team play performance according to the following general guidelines:
Team Play
Pee Wees
Coaches are encouraged to speak with past coaches of a given player as part of the evaluation process particularly with regard to team skills and attitude as these attributes can be difficult to fully evaluate in a short tryout. Race, gender, ethnic background and religion are not criteria that coaches may consider when making team selections. Coaches should seek input from the Ace Coordinator (or the ESHA Board) in making these decisions. However, the coaches ultimately make the selection of players.
ESHA Preference:
Coaches are encouraged, when making team selections, to consider the fact that a player has previously been with the ESHA program. This is not intended to give an ESHA player a "right" to a position on a team. Nonetheless, players and families that have supported the ESHA program and a given team over the years merit some additional consideration for such support and commitment.
Skating Up:
Refer to ESHA’s Skating Up Policy.
Policy Discussion:
  • General Policy. The selection of teams is stressful for players, parents and coaches alike. It is also critical for the success of the ESHA teams. It is important that all participants understand the process, that the process be fair and that the process be conducted properly.
  • Tryouts. Decisions on players are made at tryouts. It clearly follows then that players hoping to be selected must attend tryouts. Further, ESHA wants players that want to be ESHA Icehawks. Players should understand that missing scheduled tryouts generally decrease their chances of making a team, even if attendance at the minimum number has been waived. However, under exceptional circumstances, a current ESHA player may not be able to attend any tryouts. For example, the player may have an injury that prevents participating or due to family vacation schedules/camps such player may be out of town. In such cases, the Ace Coordinator or the Board may waive the tryout requirement altogether based upon the past knowledge of this player.
  • Recruiting. ESHA believes in tryouts where all players can compete for positions on all teams. This gives everyone a chance to compete on the ice and reduces "politics" as a basis for selection. It also encourages any interested player in trying out by giving them a chance to make a team. "Recruiting" players from outside the organization by promising a position on a team reduces that competition and is unfair to players who simply want an equal chance. If a player from outside is good enough to be "recruited," then he/she should be good enough to make the team in fair and open competition.
  • Conduct of Tryouts. The manner in which the tryouts are to be conducted is a matter for the Ace Coordinator to decide. This should be based upon the number of skaters, the number of teams, the ice slots available and any other factors that the Ace Coordinator, working with the ESHA Board, believes important. The only restriction upon this authority is that the tryouts should be conducted in a fair and impartial manner.
  • Team Size. Many clubs in more densely populated areas can determine an absolute team size (often 15 skaters and 2 goalies) with reasonable assurance that such club will always have more skaters trying out than positions available.   This is not the situation with ESHA where we often need to find players to fill out a roster. This situation can present a risk if players with lower skill levels are allowed to compete beyond their abilities (presenting a physical risk in the checking leagues) or if disruptive players are added to a team regardless of the impact it may have on the team (a disruptive player/family can destroy team morale, occupy a disproportionate amount of the coach’s time thereby stealing training time from other players, etc.). While ESHA wants to be inclusive and typically needs more players than tryout, there is no required number of players per team so that coaches can make fair and impartial decisions that benefit the entire team and all the individual players involved. See also “Coach Discretion” below.
  • Team Selection. ESHA teams are not to be pre-selected, in whole or in part. Realistically, if a Head Coach has a son/daughter in the age group that he/she is coaching, then the child may be placed on that coach's team. Requiring that the coach and the player be separated places too great a burden upon the coach, the player and the family. Otherwise, all team selections shall be made at the time of tryouts and not promised before.
  • Coach Discretion. Coaches are selected based upon their knowledge of the game, their ability to communicate with children, their character and their ability to evaluate talent. For these reasons, the coach ultimately decides who is to be selected. Coaches are strongly encouraged to discuss player evaluation with the Ace Coordinator (or the ESHA Board). However, the coach must live with selections for an entire season. Therefore, he/she makes the final decision.
It should be understood that coaches are not necessarily required to select the best skaters available. Many factors go into the selection of the right players for a team in addition to skating skills. Several types of players are needed to make up a balanced team. A team with goal scorers but no playmakers or defenders will not do well. In some cases, a coach might select a player that has great work ethic over another player who has better skating skills but less "hustle." In other cases, a coach may need to select a defenseman left-handed shooter to round out the roster. A coach may properly choose not to select a higher skilled player with discipline/attitude issues due to the effects of such player on the team as a whole. The coach is responsible for the whole team for the whole season and has leeway in selecting players that are cohesive and complementary. While selections must be made based upon abilities and team needs, the Board will not "second guess" a coach's decision if based upon proper and fair criteria.
  • ESHA Preference. ESHA tryouts allow all players to have an opportunity to make all teams in their age group, whether from the Icehawks originally or from outside of the organization. However, there is a preference to select ESHA Icehawks players. This is reflected in the "ESHA preference". In part, there are practical reasons for these policies. ESHA players are better known to the organization. They have been trained in the "Icehawks system" and there is less adjustment needed. However, the most important reason is loyalty to players that have been with the organization. The goal of the Icehawks is to develop better players and better individuals. We should do both by showing commitment to our players.
  • Skating Up. "Skating up" is rarely good for the player and rarely good for the organization. It depletes the lower age teams and rarely makes the older team more competitive. Sometimes, it causes an older player to be displaced from a team. In addition, it tends to cause turmoil and contention within an organization where it is allowed. Therefore, ESHA has adopted a Skating Up Policy with very narrow exceptions. Refer to Skating Up Policy for details.