By Ross Forman – When the puck drops this season, Anthony Ebbole will once again be on the bench coaching the Glenbrook South JV Team. He is in his 31st season coaching, his 26th with the Titans.
“Tryouts are the worst part of the season for me. You know there will be disappointment (from) the players who don’t make the (varsity) team. It usually boils down to 4 or 5 players pretty evenly matched for the last 1 or 2 (varsity) spots,” Ebbole said.
So yes, he certainly has tryout tips, for all high school players, not just at GBS: Be yourself and work hard!
“Be first on the puck every chance you get. Don’t be lazy or try to be someone that you’re not (as) teams are usually made up of players that all bring something different to the table,” Ebbole said.
Work ethic is important, always. “If you’re working hard, you will get noticed. If you’re willing to work hard, the coaches will know that you’re probably going to be coachable,” he said.
There also are tryout no-no’s, such as, being lazy or just trying to run everybody on the ice, he said.
Still, there are JV players every season, at every school, who think they should have landed on the varsity team. That’s when Ebbole says it’s a perfect time for the dejected player to “prove the varsity coaches wrong.”
“Work that much harder to improve your game. Things happen over a season; you never know when you’ll get your chance to move up. A positive attitude and strong work-ethic will go a long way,” said Ebbole, 55, who lives in Wheaton and has coached at every level – from 8U to 18U/high school.
He started coaching at the Flames 30 years ago. He also has coached for the Admirals and Bruins. He twice was the Metro North JV Coach of the Year and has won three state championships and had a couple of runner-up finishes and multiple final four appearances.
“Every year there are players (who) are pretty disappointed that they didn’t make varsity and usually settle in on JV and remain positive. I’ve had many players who have gone on to shine after not making varsity; some have become leaders and some were fortunate enough to move up to varsity mid-season,” Ebbole said.
“Just about every player I’ve had quit because they didn’t make varsity, usually regrets that decision by the time that the Glenbrook North/Glenbrook South game rolls around (the day before Thanksgiving in Glenview). I always say, ‘If you don’t want to play JV, play club hockey somewhere – don’t quit hockey! It’s about the love of the game, not what team you’re on. I’ve met some of my best friends through hockey.”
Ebbole added: “High school hockey in general is much different now than when I first started coaching at GBS. It’s more competitive than ever, especially in the Scholastic Hockey League. I’d say the biggest positive of playing JV hockey as compared to club, is that you’ll be going to school with all of your teammates … and who wouldn’t want to play in the North/South game, or any other high school rivalry game.”
Ebbole said that when upperclassmen land on the GBS JV, he wants them to provide leadership to the underclassmen and to set a good example. “Sometimes it takes the incoming players a little time to adjust because, on some nights, they’re going up against players who can be three years older that they are.
“JV should be all about skill development. My job is to try and prepare as many players as possible to move up to varsity and play for (GBS varsity head coach) Jim Philbin.”
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.