Hockey Humanitarian: Aleca Hughes
CHN Staff Report
TAMPA, Fla. Aleca Hughes was named recipient of the 2012 Hockey Humanitarian Award on Friday at the Frozen Four.
The Yale senior forward women's team captain started a number of initiatives, inspired by the battle with cancer by teammate Mandi Schwartz. Schwartz, the sister of Colorado College men's players Rylan and Jaden Schwartz, passed away in April 2011 after battling cancer more than two years.
Hughes' projects include the Mandi Schwartz Foundation and the annual “White Out for Mandi” fundraiser game at Yale's Ingalls Rink each fall. The first two “White Outs” raised more than $50,000. Mandi’s parents, Carol and Rick Schwartz, travelled from Saskatchewan to Tampa to be a part of Friday’s Hockey Humanitarian Award ceremony. They presented Hughes with a donation to the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
Hughes has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the value of marrow donation — and umbilical cord blood donation — for patients with life-threatening illnesses. She has been one of the driving forces behind the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale, which is led each April by the women’s ice hockey, football and field hockey teams. The first such drive was held in 2009, shortly after Mandi was initially diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The three drives at Yale have added nearly 2,500 potential marrow donors to the Be The Match registry and located at least six genetic matches who donated to patients with life-threatening illnesses.
The Yale women’s ice hockey team also raised money for the foundation by participating — along with the Yale men’s ice hockey team — in the season-long “Goals for Good” campaign. Through that campaign, ECAC Hockey teams competed against each other to see who could raise the most money for charity. That campaign was started by one of this year’s other Hockey Humanitarian Award finalists, Colgate’s Kevin McNamara. The other finalists were Shawn Baker of Norwich, Tucker Mullin of St. Anselm and Cody Reichard of Miami.
Hughes is also her team’s representative for Yale Athletics’ Thomas W. Ford ’42 Community Outreach Program, and the Hockey Humanitarian Foundation made a donation to that program in her name.
The 31st person to captain the Yale women’s ice hockey team in its 35-year varsity history, Hughes led the team in assists (11) and points (15) this past season. She was among Yale’s top four scorers every season of her career, and led the team in goals (a career-high 10) in 2010-11.
Hughes did not miss a game in her career, finishing with 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points in 116 games. She is in Yale’s career top 20 for goals (20th), assists (t-19th) and points (20th). She has twice earned Yale’s Mandi Schwartz Award for courage, grit and determination.
Hughes has also excelled in the classroom, and will receive her fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic honor this year. She is an American studies major and intends to go to business school to learn more about non-profit management after a few years of gaining work experience.
In addition to winning the Hockey Humanitarian Award, Hughes also earned ECAC Hockey and Hockey East’s Sarah Devens Award for leadership and is one of five collegiate finalists for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, presented to two distinguished athletes — one collegiate and one professional — for their character and leadership both on and off the field and their contributions to sport and society. The winner of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup will be announced Wednesday, Apr. 25, in a ceremony in Atlanta.