Moving away from home is a struggle for those who are going off to college, but for those who are leaving to play junior hockey, this move often happens at a younger age, while still in high school. It will be an adjustment period, but if you follow this simple advice, you will be well on your way to knowing what to expect when you finally make a move to your junior club.
Your host family is there for you
If you are moving to a new city for junior hockey, generally you will be staying with a billet family. These great people volunteer their homes for players, and you need to know that they are there for you. No matter if you are dealing with homesickness, or pondering some life decisions, use this support network that the team has given you. These billet families are often not associated with the club, so if you are finding a specific aspect frustrating chat with your billets, and they can help guide you to a solution.
New school, which means new friends
Yes, moving for junior hockey means you will still need to attend a new school. Most junior teams are on the road quite a bit, so be prepared to have to study on the bus, and to find ingenious ways to hit the books between practices and games. If you are looking to get to the next level, remember, marks are essential, so make time for school and hockey, and your transition to junior hockey will be a little bit easier.
The boys are going to be your family, and this is not a bad thing. Yes, the rookies will have to sit at the front, and yes, you will need to clean the bus, but as you move up, you will see why the team does this. A new player is more than just a fresh guy filling a bottom six role. Instead, a new player is a new brother or sister, and they have to earn their place. Your lifelong friends will be made on the long junior road trips, and for many, junior hockey was the best part of their hockey career, even if they go pro. Embrace the bus and your team, and your time in junior will honestly be great.
Junior hockey is a grind, and the switch from minor hockey to junior is going to be eye-opening. The pace is faster, the guys are bigger, and the physical and mental sides of your body will be tested while lacing up in a junior game. As a new player, you need to be prepared for this, and to know how to listen to your body. To be successful, you need to hydrate, eat well and of course get plenty of sleep. Playing 70+ games as a 16-year-old is a once in a lifetime experience, embrace the opportunity.
The first few weeks of junior hockey is an experience like no other in your young hockey life, and if you can make it through that, you will be well on your way to a successful career. From the new house to the new school and the new team, the transition is often over in a blink of an eye. Remember, no matter how you got here, you deserve it. Embrace the challenges that come with junior hockey, and know exactly what to expect, because junior hockey is a treat that only a fraction of the world gets to experience, and it is over in a blink of an eye.