The costs of being a hockey player
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As the player is smashed into the boards, the spectators hear a loud noise as the player’s hockey stick breaks clean in half. What it really should sound like is 250 dollars being washed down the drain. But that’s just a part of the sport, Bantam Youth Hockey Coach Tim Washburn said.
“Typically, a stick can cost anywhere from 200 to 350 dollars, and that doesn’t include the equipment itself which is upwards of 1,300 dollars,” Washburn said. “As for the skates, those can cost around 1,000 dollars. Playing hockey, and really any competitive sport, is expensive.”
ESPN estimates that travel expenses for the sport can reach 10,000 dollars a year, as well as ice bills that can hit 12,000 dollars a year. This doesn’t include extra expenses, like practice jerseys, bags–even Febreze and detergents. Overall, it costs around 50,000 dollars to play the sport. So why does it attract people from all different socioeconomic backgrounds?
“Even though I have coached kids in the past who may have had a more difficult time paying , not one regrets it.” South Varsity Hockey head coach, Bobby McKillop, said. “The love for the sport, and the realization that hockey connects kids from all walks of life and establishes friendships and memories that last a lifetime is very apparent.”
AAA organizations like Victory Honda, Little Caesars and Compuware often travel around the country and even the world to play in showcases. Former South Varsity hockey player, Brendan Cauvel ’16, was one of the many players who got to experience this throughout his playing career.
“My parents definitely spent a lot of money going from tournament to tournament,” Cauvel said. “But we would end up making it our vacations, too. I’ve traveled everywhere, but my favorites were Blaine, Philadelphia and Buffalo.”
Cauvel said he took the “normal” hockey route, which is playing House league (a cheaper, less competitive version), then eventually travel and AAA hockey. As players climb up into high-stakes hockey, it gets increasingly more expensive. Almost every hockey player has been enrolled, as a child, in annual spring hockey camps,necessary for those who wish to compete at a higher level. Additionally, off the ice training is now a main stay for anyone trying to keep up with other players, according to Washburn.
“When I was playing AAA, it was drastically different price-wise,” Cauvel said. “You’re traveling almost every weekend, the ice is more expensive, you’re playing tougher and faster hockey so your equipment is getting banged up.”
However, this money spent can pay off in the end for many high-level players. Many colleges, and even the NHL, looking for a combination of athletics and academics, turn to AAA level hockey for their future players.
“I’ve been traveling around the U.S. since I was 12, living and playing in Colorado, Utah, Michigan and Iowa playing for multiple hockey teams,” Anea Ferrario ’16 said. “It’s expensive, but I live with billet families and they help me out a bit. There is a fee that my family pays the billet family monthly for basic food and minimal living expenses. Depending on the team you are playing for, the coaches will help you out quite a bit with equipment prices and all that, especially if you’re uprooting your life for the team.”
After all of the monetary sacrifices, Ferrario was offered a Division One scholarship to Brown University, a dream of his since childhood, he said.
“In the end, whether these kids continue with hockey after high school playing juniors, club hockey, college hockey or occasional pick-up with their buddies, I think the money spent is much like a mini-hockey degree”, Washburn said. “The intense discipline learned, the team camaraderie, respect, flexibility, internal drive can be applied to everything these boys will face in the future. Every college course they take, internship they apply for, job that they take will have benefited from the training they received in hockey.”
Throughout the years the number of ex players that return to coach Washburn are too many to mention.
“I constantly have young men return to me and tell me how much the sport has helped them after they stopped playing competitively,” Washburn said. “The sport is invaluable.”