The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, whose mission is to support the education of local youth and advance the development of amateur hockey, awarded Ethan Gates of Athens this year’s $10,000 High School Hockey Scholarship.
Gates recently graduated from Athens High School. He plans to attend Ohio University this fall, and anticipates majoring in public relations and minoring in business in hopes of one day helping youth sports associations become successful.
Wanting to follow in his two older brothers’ footsteps, Gates started playing hockey when he was four years old. He said his biggest influences are his dad and his brother.
“My dad was always there for me and pushed me to play,” Gates said. “While my brother taught me everything I know about the game.”
The young athlete got his first stick when he was two years old and would often interfere with his brothers’ hallway practices. His brothers used to dress him up in goalie gear and put him in front of their makeshift goal, the hall closet, to practice on him. Gates initially started as a goalie on his Mite team, but switched to forward the next season.
Gates played as a forward and served as captain for the varsity Athens Bobcats of the Athens Youth Hockey Association. He was awarded captaincy for his leadership skills and demonstration of responsibility and dependability, and proved his dedication by never missing a practice or a game, even when he was injured.
Additionally, Gates was named to the Columbus League All-Star Team in both his junior and senior years of high school. Gates said hockey has given him friends for life, brought him closer to his family and helped him focus on small achievements each week. It has also taught him how to push through adversity, keep a positive attitude and continue to do his personal best, on and off the ice, in hopes of inspiring his teammates.
As an accomplished student, Gates made honor roll all four years and graduated with a cumulative 4.0 GPA. This qualified him to enroll in SB 140, a post-secondary education program at Ohio University. Since he had college preparation curriculum as a high school senior, he was eligible to play for the OU intramural hockey team and finished this season second in points amongst college students. Throughout high school, Gates was also an active member of the National Honor Society, Kiwanis Key Club organization and Athens Ski & Snowboarding Club.
In addition to his heavy involvement with hockey and school, Gates also works at OU’s Bird Arena as a referee for local youth hockey leagues. He was recently promoted to a supervisory position at the arena. In addition to hockey, Gates’ interests also include playing soccer, reading adult historical fiction, playing sports with kids and volunteering in the community.
The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation was founded in 2000 and its mission is to help central Ohio kids get healthy, play safely, and stay active. They dedicate a portion of its proceeds to the growth and development of amateur hockey. This includes annual educational scholarships for graduating high school seniors who have excelled both in their commitment to hockey and in their academic and extracurricular activities.
Gates embodies the mission of the Foundation by participating in a number of service projects that benefit the Athens community (especially senior citizens), young children and underprivileged families. He coordinated the Athens Youth Hockey Association's food and gift drive, which gave veterans' families a memorable Christmas.
Additionally, he serves as a designer and caretaker of the Harry M. Sands Memorial Garden at Beacon School of Developmentally Disabled. Gates is involved with several other service projects, including working at summer camps, helping second graders learn how to read, providing day care and volunteering at other community service events.
“I am ecstatic, honored and very proud to receive this award,” Gates said.