AAA tryout season for Squirt, Pee Wee, and Bantam teams for the upcoming Fall season is nearly here. Those that make the team will be quite excited and those that do not will have had a chance to measure their skills against potentially the top players at their age level. These skaters will hopefully take the experience as a positive motivator to improve their skills to make a run at one of our 4 AAA teams in Illinois next season. One question that is often asked is why AAA tryouts are held so early when AA tryouts cannot occur until September 1. There are several reasons why this order makes sense.
AAA hockey is the highest level of youth hockey in the state. Holding AAA tryouts early allows the AA clubs to identify those skaters that advanced to AAA before they have to plan their season. Imagine the challenge if both AAA and AA were holding tryouts at the same time.
Another key factor is that the cost and commitment associated with AAA hockey is typically higher than AA hockey. By selecting teams early it gives those that made it the chance to accept the offer to play and added time to plan expenses. AAA clubs travel many weekends during the season. Parents and coaches need time to plan those trips, secure flights, and adjust schedules. Many AAA clubs expect an elevated level of commitment to off-ice training. These AAA clubs use the summer months to begin that work with their skaters.
Many AAA clubs have skaters from different states and in some cases different countries. These players need to be housed locally so the added time allows those skaters a chance to get settled in their new home prior to the season -knowing what team and in which state they will be playing months in advance of the season’s beginning allows time to acclimate, get to know the other players, and register for school.
So why are the Midget AAA tryouts in July and not at the same time as the other AAA levels? The reason is very similar to the AAA vs. AA tryout times. Many midget players have the chance to try out for one of many Junior teams across the country, whether it be the USHL, NAHL, USPHL, MJHL, NA3HL, or others. These clubs hold many of their camps in May and June. By allowing these skaters a chance to go through the Junior tryout process, the midget AAA teams will know who may be returning to them come Fall. The AAA teams in Illinois moved their tryouts from May to July to accommodate these players and to better prepare for the season.
AAA hockey in Illinois is limited to 4 clubs, Mission, Team Illinois, Chicago Young Americans, and Fury. Playing AAA hockey can be a great experience and a challenging one. It is a place to accelerate your game and play against some of the best talent at your age level.