NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund today announced the recipients of the 2015 NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarship at the Congressional Hockey Caucus event in Washington, D.C. The event featured panelists spanning the hockey community, discussing the importance of hockey in higher education. Panelists included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman; Founder, Majority Owner, Chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Ted Leonsis; USA Hockey Asst. Executive Director of Development Pat Kelleher; and Thurgood Marshall College Fund President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.
"At the National Hockey League, it is our priority to do whatever we can to encourage young hockey players to pursue their education as eagerly as they pursue the puck," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We want to connect the skills of skating and passing with the disciplines of study and passion for learning, to link the joys of scoring goals on the ice with the importance of setting goals off the ice, and one of the ways we pursue those objectives is through our support of the NHL/Thurgood Marshall Scholarship."
This year, NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarships have been awarded to three outstanding youth hockey players: Wyatt Christiansen from Calgary's Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) program; Cassidy Guthrie from the Columbus Ice Hockey Club; and Austin Verissimo from the Hockey in Newark program. Each recipient is from one of the League's Hockey Is For Everyone™ nonprofit organizations, which provides programming and support to local youth hockey organizations across North America. Each organization is committed to providing youth from all backgrounds the opportunity to play hockey, learn essential life skills, and the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance, and teamwork.
"With financial aid challenges facing college students today -- forcing many high school students to abandon their college dreams -- the Thurgood Marshall College Fund is grateful for the NHL's commitment to this scholarship program," says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., TMCF President & CEO. "A great educational foundation, coupled with sports, can be the perfect score for creating leaders of tomorrow."
Christiansen, a defenseman from Calgary's HEROS program, has played hockey for nine years. He plans to study business at Mount Royal University. Guthrie, who is versatile and can play every position, has played hockey for 11 years. She is currently a sophomore at Miami University, studying education and playing forward for Miami University's women's hockey team. She will be awarded an academic scholarship for her remaining two years. Verissimo, a goaltender from the Hockey in Newark program, has played hockey for three years. He plans to study finance, likely at his top school of choice, Cornell University.
Since 2012, the NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarship has been raising funds through the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, which is taking place today at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the practice facility of the Washington Capitals. This friendly, but competitive, game will have U.S. and Canadian lawmakers, along with Congressional staff and Administration officials, face off against lobbyists. This year, members of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey program and Washington Capitals alumni will also participate. Visit CongressionalHockeyChallenge.com for more information. This event is open to the public.