Each year dozens of exceptional families open their homes to 44 of the finest American amateur hockey players in the nation. These selfless families provide a vital service to the success of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. USA Hockey is always looking for families to take in players and provide homes and a family environment for the student-athletes who attend local area high schools.
In the 18 years NTDP players have been eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, 290 players have been drafted by National Hockey League teams, including three number-one overall selections — Rick DiPietro, Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane. In 2016-17, 85 players suited up for NHL clubs. Over 430 players have "graduated" from the NTDP to skate for NCAA Division I colleges.
If you, or anyone you know, is interested in hosting a player, contact USA Hockey's housing coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org. Families receive a monthly stipend and complimentary season tickets to National Team Development Program home games at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
Who plays for the NTDP? Where are the players from?
The NTDP consists of two teams, the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams. Each squad typically maintains a twenty-two man roster. The players come from all over the United States – Michigan to Florida, New York to California, Arizona to Alaska. These young men amongst the best players in the nation for their age group. All the players on the NTDP are citizens of the United States.
How old are the players?
The players are between 16-18 years of age. They are primarily juniors and seniors in high school with two or three "late" birth year sophomores also on the roster.
Where do they play hockey?
The home of the NTDP is USA Hockey Arena on Beck Road in Plymouth.
When do the players arrive? How long are they here?
The two teams arrive in late August. We hope to have them in their billet homes shortly after their initial arrival. The players stay in town until the end of the school year.
What is their daily schedule?
These student-athletes attend their local high school the first four class periods of each day. After school, they report directly to USA Hockey Arena for a full afternoon schedule that may consist of on-ice practice, weight training, off-ice conditioning, life skills, study table, team meetings, etc. Host families receive a monthly schedule that provides daily details. The staff plans for the players to be home in time for a mid-evening dinner with their billet family.
How important is education to NTDP players?
The NTDP staff, along with the parents, stress the importance of achieving high grades and valuing a quality education. Every student-athlete is expected to earn a GPA standard to maintain eligibility for competition. In addition, each player must work to achieve their NCAA eligibility as they plan to participate in Division I college hockey upon graduating from high school in programs such as Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Miami University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin.
Do these players expect to have hockey careers post college?
Beyond college hockey there were almost 80 NTDP alumni that played in the National Hockey League (NHL) this year let alone the large numbers in the American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL. The NTDP also had nine alumni on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team and expect more on the 2016 World Cup Team as well as the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team.
How often does the team travel throughout the season?
Once the season begins in mid-September, the team traditionally plays 3-4 weekends each month with half of the games out of town. In addition, each team participates in three international events each year taking the players out of the country for at least one week, sometimes longer, for each event.
Do the players go home for the traditional holidays?
Holiday travel depends on the game schedule. The teams tend to have games over the Thanksgiving holiday. With regard to Winter Break, the players go home for most of the first week then resume their playing schedule the second week. Each team does have three scheduled weekends off during the year when they are released to head home for a break.
What happens when the host family plans to be away at a time when the players are in town?
As the players are never allowed to stay at their host home overnight by themselves, the housing committee will work with the other host families to make an appropriate overnight plan when needed. This plan will be reviewed and approved by parents, billets, and coaches.
Can a player go away for the weekend with their host family?
If a team has the weekend off and the parents and coaches approve of the player leaving town with the host family, the player is certainly able to enjoy a weekend away with their host family.
What meals must the host family provide for their player?
Each athlete needs to have a healthy breakfast, sack lunch for school, and dinner upon returning home in the evening. Providing healthy snacks is also important for the player to maintain their desired caloric intake as designated by the team nutritionist.
Do the host families have to wash their players workout clothes/uniform?
No, all athletic gear worn for training and games, is washed by the NTDP equipment staff.
Are the players expected to do chores at the house?
It is appropriate to expect your player to keep his living space tidy, take care of dishes, warm up meals and help with basic chores around the home as their schedule provides.
Are the hosts expected to provide transportation for their player to school, arena or for games?
The host family is not expected to drive the players as the boys can take the bus to school if they do not have a car. Once at school, the student-athletes will carpool with one another based on who does and does not have a car. Players that do not drive are expected to contribute gas money to those that drive them on a regular basis. The NTDP provides all transportation to and from away hockey games.
Do the host families receive financial support?
Yes, the host families receive a monthly check from USA Hockey to help provide for each player. In addition, we ask that the player’s family also contribute with grocery cards or supplies or a level of financial assistance.
Why do billets become limited legal guardians?
It is important for these young men to have local legal guardians to facilitate emergency decision making and to provide an official local address, thus enabling the player to enroll in the public schools. As the guardianship is limited, it is only in place from the time the student athletes arrive in August to their departure at the end of the school year (or when the player turns 18 their second year).
Are there rules that the players follow?
The NTDP provides each player, parent and host family with a rules and regulation guide that clearly outlines expectations for the young men related to behavior, curfew, academic achievement, etc. As we enter our 20th year as an organization, we feel confident that we have covered all the major areas in the guide thus leaving no grey area for creative interpretation.