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Dumba's Clancy nomination a reflection of his family and his upbringing

Defenseman is Wild's nominee for award presented to a player making big impacts both on and off the ice

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

Matt Dumba remembers days from his childhood around the holidays, when he and his family would donate meals in his hometown of Calgary. On those days, he'd usually have some breakfast, but that would be it for the rest of the day. By dinner time, his stomach would be aching with pangs of hunger. 

"How you feel right now," his mother, Treena, would tell him, "is how lots of kids feel every day." 

It was subtle lessons like those that would lay the groundwork for Dumba growing up, that helped shape his desire to reach out and make a difference. 

He didn't always have the nicest of everything growing up, but what he had was a lot more than many others. Sharing and giving back were weaved into the fabric of the family when he was younger. 

Dumba remembers his grandma, who for years ran a halfway house, helping more than 2,000 people get their lives back on track. 

He always said that if he had the opportunity and the platform, that he too would do what he could to make others' lives better. 

Now blessed with that platform, Dumba has been making a huge difference in the lives of countless families in the Twin Cities. For those efforts, he was named the Wild's nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy earlier this week, an award which is presented to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. 

"It's awesome. But it's not only me. I'm representing the Dumba family, my little brother, what he's done this past year, my parents and how they've supported us," Dumba said. "Their views and struggles growing up ... and how they align with what I'm trying to do in the community. 

"I'm just so happy about everything; this team, my friends and everyone around me have been so awesome in that regard. Yes, it's me and my name, but I represent a whole bunch of people."

Dumba has been a pillar in the community for the past several years in his work with Athletes Committed to Educating Students (ACES), serving as a mentor to youth and providing the organization's students and their families with opportunities to attend Wild games. 

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The relationships he forged with those kids and their families inspired him to launch a fundraiser to support the Lake Street Council in an effort to help rebuild Lake Street following civil unrest in late May and early June. His pledge to match all donations up to $100,000 was doubled when the Wild and the NHL donated $50,000 each to the cause. 

Growing up in an interracial household presented him with challenges at the rink as he rose through the ranks of midget and junior hockey in Canada. His mom is Filipino while his dad, Charlie, is of Romanian and German descent.

He faced racist taunts in opposing arenas and even from opposing players. And after the death of George Floyd, when people around the world have put a focus on discussing racial inequality, Dumba knew he wanted to be a part of the solution. Instead of shying away from hard conversations, Dumba has initiated them, as one of the co-founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. 

Video: Dumba on his commitment to changing the game

"I do think [growing up in an interracial home] has shaped my beliefs and values with some of the challenges we're trying to combat right now," Dumba said. "I'm using this platform and using my voice to try and amplify those that don't have one or don't feel like they have one ... that sense of loneliness that this sport makes you feel sometimes when you are a minority player and you don't know who to talk to or who to go to about these things. 

"I want to be there for those kids and making a difference in their lives so the next generation of hockey fans and hockey players can feel safe when they go to the rink, and they don't have to worry about some of the things a lot of us have gone through in the past."

But Dumba's community outreach has stretched far beyond the borders of the State of Hockey. 

Video: Matt Dumba reflects on trip to Australia

A trip to Australia last summer inspired him to lend a hand when the country was crushed by the impact of wildfires. On Jan. 7, he donated $100 for every point the Minnesota Timberwolves scored in their game against the Memphis Grizzlies, which ended up being more than $11,000.

But his charity and willingness to do good work has gone beyond simply writing checks.

Video: Hockey Fights Cancer: Dumba surprises family friend

Dumba surprised long-time family friends, Melanie and Brian Biccum with a trip to St. Paul for the Wild's Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night after Melanie was diagnosed with Lymphoma last year. 

He even stopped to help a stranded motorist on the side of the road following a game in late February, an act of human kindness that would have gone completely unrecognized had a fan not identified him and posted the account on Facebook.

It's those acts of grace and kindness that make it clear the kind of heart that beats inside Dumba's 6-foot, 180-pound body.

And like Jason Zucker before him, the former Wild forward who took home the King Clancy Trophy last summer, it should make Minnesota proud that he's a part of this community. 

"Giving back to the community, giving back to the people who need a helping hand is the right thing to do. It always has been and it always will be," Dumba said. "Everybody goes through tough times at all stages and in all walks of life. It's acknowledging that and seeing people's perspectives and putting yourself [in their shoes], finding that empathy, for what others may be going through and trying to assist them through that as a friend and as someone who genuinely cares about making a difference."

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