Post #48– 8/12/21 – Visits and Communication, Mailbag Monday, Stick Taps, Sifters

In This Post…

  • Recruiting Visits and Communication|
  • Mailbag Monday|
  • Stick Taps|
  • Sifters|

NCAA Coaching Changes… See all the coaching changes in one spot – HERE – on our google sheet. Announcements on new hires and recent openings can be found below in the Sifters section.

Stick Taps Section… We need your ‘Stick Taps’ suggestions! Have someone in the world of women’s college hockey you think deserves some recognition? Let us know who they are and why you think they’re so deserving! You can fill out our online submission form right HERE or Email us at: or tweet at us: @WMNSCollHockey. Stick Taps go out the first post of every month so stay tuned!

Online Directory of Recruiting Events/Leagues… We received several messages from event and league organizers wishing to get their events/league weekends/showcases listed in our online directory. So – we’ve created a google sheet with all the events that present good scouting opportunities we’re are aware of. You can find that list HERE. If you run a recruiting event or league and want to have us list it in our online directory, please click HERE and fill out our recruiting event form.

Recruiting Visits & Communication

It’s that time of year. Mid August is just about here and the desire for recruits to take unofficial and official visits grow with each passing day. Although the NCAA clearly defines what Unofficial visits are and what is allowed to occur, we would argue there are actually different types of unofficial visits. Every coaching staff has their own philosophy on how to structure and schedule their unofficial visits. But with literally hundreds of players asking coaches to take a visit, they all can’t be the same. We identify a few of those ‘different’ types of visits below as well as give a few tips on how to approach your communication with coaches on the visit subject.

Different types of ‘Unofficial’ Visits… You won’t find these defined in the NCAA manual, rather these visit types are actually based on the priority coaches have for the player who wants to visit and the amount of time available as well as which coaches will be around campus. 1) There are Unofficial visits that seem more like Official visits, 2) There are Unofficial visits with some or very little to no facetime with members of the coaching staff, and 3) There are visits where you won’t spend any time with the coaching staff at all–you are basically on your own.

We’ll call #1 ‘The Proper Visit’. This is the type of visit where you are invited to campus (the invite is key!) by the coaching staff and what occurs is more akin to what takes place on an ‘Official’ visit. That is to say recruits get a top notch experience with lots of facetime with the coaching staff, strength coach, perhaps athletic trainer, and even current players, other coaches in the department, academic or financial aid personnel. A tour of campus and athletic/team facilities led by one or even all coaches on staff, may be a driving tour of the area around campus. Of course–facetime with the coaching staff for a good discussion on how the recruit fits into the programs’ recruiting plans is the main event. Possibly even an overnight stay might be part of the visit plan depending on time if year. Bottom line, the coaching staff wants you there and they set everything up for you-usually.

Unofficial visit type #2, we’ll call this the ‘Soft Visit’. This is the type of visit where there is probably some facetime with a member (or entire) coaching staff, but not a ton. Or may be the coaching staff directs you to the admissions office for your campus tour and to set up academic meetings. An invite from the coaching staff could or could not happen, but the classic situation here–is when there is no initial invite from the program but rather the recruit basically invites herself to visit. One of the coaches may respond with – yea, sure – we can make that work. There is usually a discussion had at some point where questions can be asked/answered and potentially some direction from the staff on where they see the recruit fitting into their plans. But there are legit reasons why visits get set-up this way… 1) the recruit may only have a particular day to visit that conflicts with the coaches’ schedule. 2) The coaching staff may know absolutely nothing about the recruit and this is how they handle visits of this nature. 3) The player may simply just not be a high priority–and coaches do have to prioritize who they want to spend their time with. It can’t be everyone who wants a visit – that could be a full-time job in itself.

Visit type #3 is the ‘Self Directed’ visit… This type of visit happens when either a recruit has contacted the hockey program to see if visiting is possible but hasn’t gotten a reply back… or just wants to visit the school on her own and does not contact the hockey program she is doing so. In both cases – the recruit winds sets up all the appropriate appointments herself–tour of campus, academic meeting, may be financial aid, even potentially with the coaching staff. The coaching staff basically has no involvement, and unless the recruit communicates to the staff she would like to set up a time to chat about the hockey program, it’s doubtful the staff will even know you’re on campus. Sometimes the admissions office alerts coaches if a recruit indicates an interest in playing a sport (usually asked by admissions to the recruit). But as the name indicates, this type of visit is all directed by you.

Communication with Coaches About Visits… There are generally some Do’s and some Don’ts when communicating with coaches about visits to their school. Here are some tips that can help you in the process. And in doing so, you’ll learn some pretty important information which should help you in your process. You potentially are going to know exactly where you fall on that school’s priority list.


  • Use Email First… It’s a great respectable option to open up the lines of communication with coaches about your desire to visit the school–especially if you’ve never communicated with anyone on staff before. If you don’t have a prior relationship, email is best instead a text or a phone call. Be sure to add a bit about your hockey and academic background, like what position you play, what team you play for, what year you are graduating, your GPA, perhaps intended academic area of interest, as well as your contact info and preferred method of communication desired.
  • Communicate You Want to Visit Campus… Let the staff know you want to visit their school by asking if you can take an unofficial visit. Be sure to include what you might want to accomplish on the visit, like a tour of campus, athletic/hockey facilities, meet with the coaching staff and or a current player, admissions and or financial aid office etc. Asking does 2 things – one, it gives coaches a chance to see you are organized and two – it gives the staff a chance to respond and set something up with you.
  • Be Prompt If You Get A Response Back… If you get a reply back about your request to visit, be prompt in getting back to the coach who communicated with you and include any information the coach was asking for.
  • Be On-Time and Look Nice… You’ve got your visit date all set and a time to meet the staff… DON’T BE LATE! Things happen, so if your arrival time needs to adjust because of traffic, wrong turn, something unforeseen etc. be sure to communicate with someone on staff so they can be aware. Dress for the occasion… you are meeting for the first time people who could potentially change the trajectory of your life. Appearances matter, so dress like the visit is important to you. It’s not a formal event of course, but don’t show up looking like you just came from the gym either.


  • Leave Spelling/Grammar Mistakes… Make sure you proofread your emails and any written communication back to coaches. Eliminate spelling/punctuation mistakes, and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE… make sure you address the email to the correct coaches at that particular school! You have no idea how many emails coaches get with the wrong names of coaches or the school.
  • Expect Coaches to Meet With You Because You Show Up On Campus… Often times recruits will just stop by campus, find there way to the hockey office, poke their head in and ask to meet and get shown around. Unless you’re a future olympian, this is generally not a good idea. Just because you took the time to visit campus on your own doesn’t entitle you to a sit down with the staff. Especially during the season, the days for coaches are jam packed and the schedule is tight. If you are coming to visit campus, send them a note and wait for a reply.
  • Ask for an official visit… Official visits are paid for by the school, so the staff decides who they will offer an Official visit to. Asking for one is a bit presumptive, especially if you’ve never communicated with a particular coaching staff before. Best to let the staff invite you on one rather than you ask for one.

Mailbag Monday

Mailbag Monday… There’s a new Women’s College Hockey Pipeline blog post coming on Monday’s where we’ll be answering your questions about women’s NCAA college hockey. Ever had a question about women’s college hockey but just never had the opportunity? May be a question about the recruiting process or how coaches plan practices? Now you can get your questions answered in our new ‘Mailbag Monday’ question and answer series. Each Monday we’ll select a few questions to answer submitted by our loyal readers. It’s easy, just click HERE to submit your questions by Friday and we’ll answer them the following Monday. So get those questions ready and ask away – Start HERE!

Stick Taps Go To…

With August now upon us, we will begin announcing our Monthly ‘Stick Taps’ winners during the first post of each month. Anyone connected to the game of women’s NCAA college hockey and who is doing ‘good work’, can be nominated. Who can nominate someone–YOU CAN–our loyal readers! There are lots of people in this game who deserve recognition of their work. All you need to do is fill out our ‘Stick Taps’ online nomination form HERE.

So, without further ado, the July Women’s College inaugural ‘Stick Taps’ go to: Joel Johnson for being named Head Coach of the 2022 US Women’s Olympic Hockey Team and Brian Idalski for being named Head Coach of the 2022 Chinese Women’s Olympic Hockey Team.

Joel Johnson, just named to his first Division I head coaching position in July taking over the University of St. Thomas program of the WCHA, is no stranger to USA Hockey. He served as Head Coach of the US Under-18 Team from 2015 to 2018 winning 4 Gold Medals. Also in 2018, Johnson led the US Under-22 Team to a 3-game series victory vs. Canada. In addition he helped guide the US Senior National Team as an Assistant Coach to a 4-Nations Cup victory. In 2019 he also helped lead Team USA to an IIHF World Championship. Johnson was just recently named Head Women’s Hockey Coach at the University of St. Thomas. Prior to that, Johnson spent the better part of his coaching career as the Associate Head Coach of the Minnesota Gophers Women’s program where he helped guide them to 6 NCAA National Titles.

Brian Idalski was the former Head Women’s Hockey coach at the University of North Dakota from 2007-2017 before the program was abruptly shut-down. Idalski, a U.S. citizen has never coached in an IIHF sanctioned event for USA Hockey, is no stranger to success behind the bench as a head coach. Idalski started his head coaching career at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he won 108 games during his five years there ending with two trips to the NCAA’s and a 3rd place finish in his final year. After 2 years as an asst. coach at St. Cloud University, Idalski took over as Head Coach of a University of North Dakota team that went winless the season prior to his arrival. During Idalski’s ten years at UND, he put the program on the national map as it became a nationally recognized and ranked. While at UND, he coached the fighting Hawks to 5 straight 20-win seasons, amassed an overall record of 169-156-39 which included 2 NCAA appearances in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 NCAA appearance included an EPIC triple OT loss in the 2014 NCAA quarter-final to Minnesota who went on to an undefeated season.

Congrats to Joel and Brian on their well deserved career achievements. Perhaps we’ll see these two outstanding coaches go head to head in Beijing?


Idalski Heads Up Team China in 2022 Olympic Games… As mentioned above, former North Dakota Head Coach and current Vaneke Rays bench boss Brian Idalski has been named 2022 Women’s Olympic Head Coach for Team China. The move was announced by the Chinese State Administration of Sports in late July.

Here is a great piece by Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman about Idalski’s rise to become China’s choice in Beijing–just click HERE.

IIHF Worlds Update… The IIHF World Championships are set to take place in Calgary in little less than 2 weeks after having been postponed back in May due to COVID concerns. The US is looking to defend its 2019 World Championship title, and 6th since 2012. The official IIHF Worlds event website can be found HERE. All Team USA games will be broadcast on The NHL Network – you can find that schedule below.

Team USA is coached by Joel Johnson, Head Coach at the Univ. of St. Thomas and assisted by Courtney Kennedy, Associate Head Coach at Boston College, and Brian Pothier. Pothier may be a bit unknown in the women’s coaching world but he does have a vast playing experience at the NHL/AHL level and has worked with Team USA Women’s teams in the past. You can find a link to his bio HERE.

Several NCAA players with eligibility remaining will play in this tournament for various countries. Rosters have not been named for each country except for Canada and Team USA. Here’s a look at who from Team USA Team Canada still have NCAA eligibility left. Once additional rosters are names, this list will be updated.

FirstLastPositionCountryLast TeamNCAA Years left
CaylaBarnesDTeam USABoston College2
NatalieBuchbinderDTeam USAWisconsin1
CarolineHarveyDTeam USANAHA White U194
JesseCompherFTeam USABoston University1
BritaCurlFTeam USAWisconsin2
LaceyEdenFTeam USAWisconsin4
AbbeyMurphyFTeam USAMinnesota4
GraceZumwinkleFTeam USAMinnesota1
SarahFillierFTeam CanadaPrinceton2
AshtonBellDTeam CanadaUniv. MN-Duluth1
EmmaMaltaisFTeam CanadaOhio State University1

Coaching Changes… Long time D-III coach Jackie MacMillan has decided to step down from her post as head coach at The College of St. Scholastica to pursue other opportunities. Assistant Coach Julianne Vasichek will take over and become the 2nd Head Coach in program history. You can read more on Jackie’s departure HERE.

Former Brown assistant coach Melissa Kraus (Paluch) has been named Associate Head Coach at Trine University. Head Coach Tom Hoffman made the announcement August 10. Kraus is returning back to the midwest as she was a star player at Lake Forest College and coached there for two seasons before heading off to Brown for the 19-20 season. You can read more on Kraus’ hire HERE.

Stonehill Hires Myers… Tara Watchorn has announced the hiring of assistant coach Megan Myers. Myers had spent the previous five season as an Assistant Coach at D-III Becker College. You can read more about Megan’s hiring below.

Conference Schedules Released… Hockey East and the NEWHA have finally revealed their season schedules. In Hockey East, the season begins September 24th with 3 games as LIU visits UCONN, Minnesota State travels to Merrimack, and Maine heads to Hamden, CT to take on Quinnipiac. You can view the composite Hockey East season schedule HERE. The NEWHA – New England Women’s Hockey Alliance has their composite schedule which you can find HERE. In addition to LIU @ UCONN the Sept 24-26 weekend, Sacred Heart hits the road and travels to the North Country to take on Clarkson.

Olympic Medal Payouts… Speaking of the Olympics, did you know many countries pay their medal winning athletes? In some countries – it’s a hefty payout. Here a list of the top paying countries and what they pay.

NCAA D-I Women’s & Men’s Conferences Tackle Social Justice Issues… Lastly, this story appeared on about NCAA D-I Women’s and Men’s hockey conferences joining together to make playing NCAA Hockey more Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive. The story features UNH Goaltender Nikki Harnet. You can read her story and how NCAA conferences are trying to help HERE.

Until Next Time…

Grant Kimball is founder and contributing writer at Women’s College and beginning his 3rd season as an Assistant Coach with the Yale University women’s hockey program. Grant has developed an experienced perspective in the world of women’s ice hockey, having coached and recruited players from across the globe during his 25+ year amatuer and NCAA coaching career. He has coached at 6 NCAA DIII and DI programs in the NCHA (D3), the CHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the Ivy League (DI). Beyond coaching, Grant served as a site representative for the 2019 NCAA quarterfinal of the D-I NCAA Tournament. He also currently serves as an Officer with the American Hockey Coaches Association as Vice President of Membership and sits on the AHCA’s Women’s Hockey Executive Committee.

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