It happened to me. It happened to my sister. It happened to some of my high school teammates and friends. It could happen to you.
You get recruited by, commit to and think you are playing for a specific coach along with their coaching staff. You create a relationship with that coach, you build trust with that coach. You have committed to give your heart and soul to this coach for four defining years of your life. You do your research on what type of coach she/he is, what type of person she/he is. You are trusting this coaching staff, along with their goals and vision, and you are making a full-time dedication to that.
She is picking you and you are picking her (or him). You are SO excited about this decision and this blossoming new relationship with your awesome new coaching staff! You are ready to get to campus and play your heart out for them…!!!
…Then you get the email. The email that states that the coach is moving to another program.
WAIT – WHAT?!
Everything has changed and so many questions run through your head: Am I still on the team? Will this affect my scholarship? Will the other teammates be moving with the coach also? Who is the new coach? What type of coach and person will be coming on and how will that affect my hockey career and college experience? Will this new coach even want me on the team?
In my circumstance and my sister’s, everything ended up fine; I have never heard of a recruiting horror story from a coach change. The new coach is most likely happy there is a recruit lined up for them. Usually a coach’s first few years with a team (never mind first time as a head collegiate coach) is unique as they are learning their coaching style and what works and doesn’t work for that team.
And no, you will not be treated like the red-headed-stepchild just because they didn’t personally recruit you; however – there is a unique bond you create with a coach when they recruit you and you commit to them. Every coach has their own style of player and individual they seek when they select their team. A coach takes pride in their hand picked team and their selections. You cannot recreate this if a new coach comes on. The only thing in your power is to prove to this new coach that you will be an asset to their team.
Moral of the story – absolutely do not pick a school and program solely because you love the coach. Sure, they can be part of the decision, but keep in mind there is a chance you will have a coaching change within your four seasons. Knowing this will help your decision process and also make you aware of any and all possibilities along the way.