The National Hockey League is extremely proud to participate in two initiatives that foster education on and off the ice,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “We believe that hockey can serve as a vehicle for teaching life skills and life lessons that foster the growth and development of young people. Hockey is for Everyone welcomes boys and girls to our sport while our scholarship program, in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, offers academic opportunities to outstanding student athletes across North America – underscoring our commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion as well as the achievement of scholastic and athletic excellence.”
Since 2012, funds for the NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarships, under the direction of Commissioner Bettman who serves on its board of directors, have been raised through the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, a charity game pitting congressional staff from across the political spectrum against lobbyists representing a broad array of interests. Since 2009, the Congressional Hockey Challenge has raised money in a commitment to the advancement of ice hockey, ensuring the game is accessible to anyone who wants to play.
In 2014, Calgary Forest Lawn HEROS participant Nick McCurdy (18) became the first Canadian applicant to be awarded the NHL / Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholarship, allowing him to attend the University of Calgary to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology with a goal of working in the physiotherapy / sports medicine field. The scholarship, worth approximately $26,000 USD over four years, is projected to cover nearly 90% of the costs of this degree. Without the scholarship, Nick would not be attending post-secondary studies of any kind due to financial limitations; the family income for the past year was less that $12,000 CAD. It is important to recognize that in his first semester of study, Nick achieved a GPA of approximately 3.8 displaying the commitment and dedication to his studies and taking full advantage of the opportunity being presented to him.
From March 22-26, Nick will be in Washington D.C. at the invitation of the National Hockey League attending events tied to the Congressional Hockey Challenge, the source of the funding allowing him to attend the University of Calgary. Among the events, Nick is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion alongside other NHL scholarship recipients, Thurgood Marshall College Fund representatives, as well as NHL representatives in front of members of Congress. The focus will be on the impact of sport on inner-city / low income youth, how sport can promote positive academic success, and their experiences of NHL Hockey is for Everyone programming such as HEROS. This topic area is particularly close to Nick’s heart; as part of his scholarship application he submitted an essay that focussed on the unrealized potential of low-income youth as a significant social issue.
During the course of the trip Nick will attend an NHL hosted reception, take part in the panel discussion, and attend the 7th Annual Congressional Hockey Challenge. He will also take advantage of his first visit to Washington D.C. to visit landmarks such as the Smithsonian Institute and public memorials. He will be accompanied on this trip by a HEROS representative who has known and worked with Nick since he entered HEROS programming as a grade 5 student in 2006.