Now that we’ve rolled into August, hockey season isn’t far away. With that in mind, the Wellesley Applejacks are looking for young players to join the roster; in fact, they’ve got a certain kind in mind.“More than anything, we recruit what we think are good citizens,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, general manager and former coach of the OHA Junior C team, which is now gearing up for its training camp. “We want people, number one, who want to play for Wellesley. We run the people out of the training camp who are trying out for two or three different teams.”
As the Jacks’ training and recruitment camp returns on August 17 and 18, young skaters will strap on their equipment and strut their stuff for a chance at joining the Wellesley squad. New head coach Rob Way agrees that when recruiting players, team spirit comes first.
“We’re looking for a very team-oriented player – someone who’s going to be hard-working and committed to the team,” he said. “We’ve worked hard over the last couple years building that strong group of kids, and that’s what we want to continue building on.”
With a good recruitment year and a stable of strong returning players, Fitzpatrick said that this year’s training camp will be one of the most competitive. What are some ways that prospective players could get the competitive advantage?
“Come prepared,” warned Fitzpatrick. “Every year you see a couple of people that aren’t in shape and they’re shocked at the speed and skill.”
“We don’t want it to be their first time on skates, because they’re going to be trying out against kids who have skated all summer and worked hard. You have a limited amount of time to impress the coaches, so when you hit the ice, you’ve got to hit the ice at the top of your game,” added Way.
The competition may be stiff, but there are always openings for great players.
“It’s not always the best scorer or the best skater that gets a spot in the end,” noted Way. “If we’re looking for a particular position or particular skills, there is a lot to consider. We’re always looking for strong defencemen, and we’re always looking for scoring.
“We’re strong in goaltending because we have Josh Heer back, who’s the league MVP in goaltenders,” he continued. “But we’re looking for a good, young goalie to back Josh up, because this is his last year. It would be a great opportunity for a young goalie to step in and develop.”
All of this might sound like a lot of stress for a young applicant, but more than anything, Fitzpatrick advises potential players not to get too worked up.
“Just come and give your best effort, and ask questions if you’re not sure about something. Some of the young guys are definitely nervous and excited; we want them not to be nervous so we can get the best out of them.”
The Applejacks’ training camp begins August 17 at 1 p.m. at the St. Clements Community Centre and Arena, and continues the next day. Participants must pay a $40 fee and bring a permission form, available at www.wellesleyapplejacks.com.