Now that the summer gets filed in the memory bank and we are into the phase called the ‘Try-Outs’, I thought I would offer some thoughts about this whole selection process, since I often get asked if I am holding tryouts and whether I already know who will be on the team. Well, the answer is yes to both actually.
Firstly, in regards to tryouts; I believe every student-athlete who thinks they might have what it takes should be offered the opportunity to show their stuff and have a crack at the roster. Over the years I have had a handful of surprises and pleasant ones at that. I remember back in the early 90’s Mike Cvihun walked into my office in frosh week, introduced himself and told me he was here to try to make the team. Well Mike never played club, he was a decathlete actually, and he was from a small high school outside Sarnia. Who would have thunk… and it took a couple years, but by the time Mike became a vet he was lighting it up, and he ultimately graduated a conference all-star.
Another Mike….. Hartel that is (also known as Hops), was a similar story in the late 90s. Lucky for Hops that Kevin Elsey lived in Vic Hall on the same floor as him, because he probably wouldn’t have even tried out if it wasn’t for Kevin. Hops was a gifted athlete and complete walk-on, who not only graduated a conference all-star, he played in the World University Games for Canada and played professionally in Europe as well.
There haven’t been any of those in the last decade, but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a diamond in the rough. That is why I hold tryouts. If the door was open to recruited athletes only, look what and who I would have missed out on.
That being said, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t already (almost) know who will be on the team. When there is an opening in the roster, of course I am out on the circuit looking for the best possible replacement. This year we have eleven players returning (or at least wanting to return), and I have recruited three outstanding players that we are committed to. That makes 14. I would be happy to run a team of 14. If the talent warrants it, we could take up to 16….. so yes, there is room for someone to come in and put their name on a jersey, and there is always the possibility that someone on the current roster could get beat out as well, as no one is ever guaranteed a spot. You can’t be a good rookie in second year (or third…), after all.
So, here is my advice. If you think you won’t make it, you won’t. If you think you don’t have a shot, you don’t. On the other hand, if you put yourself out there and try, and if you think you have a shot, you do. Better to let me and my staff decide if you are good enough, because the worst regret is the one that starts with “I wish I had….”. Better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all, and you never know; you might be the next ‘Mike’.