The Pressure is On

The Pressure is On
Dec. 14, 2011

LAS VEGAS , NV – The WSHL Showcase Tournament begins this weekend, and while most people in the junior hockey world know this is one of the biggest events of the year at this level, it is important to take a minute to really think about why it can be so impactful to a rising star. At this point in a young player’s life, there have been several sacrifices made in order for this dream to have a chance of become a reality. The tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on gear, travel expenses, team dues, food on the road, and not to mention special school situations are only the materialistic setbacks to the life of a parent with a child in this sport.

But what about the intangibles? What about the emotional distress that comes with the territory? The last thing anybody thinks about is how much time a teenager who plays juniors is away from home. Some of the hardest things for a parent to go through are not seeing their child during a holiday. Looking down the end of the table to see an empty chair on Thanksgiving is hard enough, but how about when their son does come home and he’s so worn out from a long road trip spanning two thousand miles that all he wants to do is rest? But the most remarkable thing about this is that the parent’s support is relentless. They are more than willing to bear the burden because they are helping their son pursue a destination that others can only dream about; a destination that only an elite few can ever make.

Aside from what the parents go through, what about the players? They’re the ones that are being pushed to the next level at every practice and game, feeling the constant pressure to perform better than their best, constantly being on a bus travelling from state to state just to play for 60 minutes. It’s exhausting! Sure things have improved since the days when Gretzky played juniors, but that doesn’t mean the toll isn’t steep. Teenagers and young adults still miss their family when they’re gone, and still feel bruises when they’re black and blue. It’s also at this age where players begin to realize if they have a shot or not at snagging one of those prolific D1 scholarships, and that can be a hard reality to face; but despite this, they keep pushing forward because of the passion, the competition, the desire to play a child’s game for your career. These sacrifices aren’t made for nothing…It’s worth it.

This weekend can be the ticket to a player’s future. There is no better place to show what kind of stuff a player has than on the ice. Being an A-List player is remarkable exposure (the stats prove it), but it won’t do a stink of good if the individual doesn’t stack up to the profile when it counts. This is the place to give all of those sacrifices reason. This is the place scouts are flocking to in order to see who can play at the next level, whether that is higher tier junior, collegiate, or even the pro levels. This is the place to put it all on the line and show that you can hack it; and don’t think that fact isn’t beyond the mind of the players. The big question is: can they keep their composure?

“To every man there comes a time in his lifetime, that special moment when he is tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared and unqualified for the work that should be his finest hour.”
– Winston Churchill

Matt Prosser | El Paso Rhinos Beat Writer | Follow on Twitter @kssuMattProsser
Matt Prosser is a freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past two seasons he has been the voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and is the host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU 1580AM in Sacramento and His other broadcasts include Hornets football, baseball, and softball as well. To get in touch with Matt for comments and writing ventures please e-mail him at