In the blink of an eye, Saint Mary’s University’s Jordan Keeley (St. Peter, Minn.) has just gone from a little fish in a big pond, to a big fish in a little pond.
The Hockey Humanitarian Award Committee whittled its list of 11 nominees to five finalists on Wednesday — and the spotlight has just gotten that much brighter for Keeley, one the five student-athletes from across all three divisions in the nation to be acknowledged.
“It is an honor to be nominated, and an even bigger honor to represent our community as a finalist,” said Keeley, a senior goalie on the Cardinal women’s hockey team. “I would not have been able to make an impact without all of the people who have inspired, supported, and influenced me over the years.”
“It is an exciting opportunity to learn about the large impacts the other nominees are making within their communities, as well as reflect on the power we all have as athletes to serve others.”
The Hockey Humanitarian Award is celebrating its 27th year and is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.
“It is great to see Jordan’s efforts to serve others and build meaningful connections with her community rewarded,” said Saint Mary’s women’s hockey coach Sarah Murray, who has coached an HHA finalist in each of her three years at the helm — including 2021 HHA winner Delaney Wolf (Bismarck, N.D.). “Jordan demonstrates strong leadership and sportsmanship characteristics every day and truly embraces what it means to be a servant leader.”
Joining Keeley as a finalist this year are Jake Adkins/Andrew Walker (UMass-Boston), Gabbie Hughes (Minnesota-Duluth), Josh Kosack (Union), and Hannah Price (Rensselaer).
The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation selection committee narrowed the list of 11 nominees, which were announced in late January. Adkins and Walker, along with Kosack, are repeat finalists from a season ago.
The 27th recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award will be honored in a ceremony on Friday, April 8 as part of the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four weekend in Boston, Mass. Additionally, the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation will make a donation to the charity most important to each of the five finalists. These donations are made possible with the generous support of the award’s partners and donors.
Here’s a look at this year’s five finalists:
Jacob Adkins/Andrew Walker, Junior Forwards, UMass Boston
The duo that dubbed themselves the “Men in Blades,” are repeat finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award after continuing in their efforts to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The “Men in Blades” began their fundraising efforts in the summer of 2020 when they rollerbladed 875 miles from Boston to Mason, Michigan to raise money for the ACS. The duo’s grueling 9.5 day journey in the midst of a heat wave, raised awareness for the need for continued donations for cancer research and brought in over $31,000 for the ACS. While they decided they never wanted to roller blade 875 miles again, that hasn’t stopped the “Men in Blades” from continuing to find new ways to raise money and awareness for the ACS. This summer, the “Men In Blades” organized a “Back-to-School Blade-A-Thon” for late August. The goal was to host a more inclusive 10K event where members of the UMass Boston and hockey community could all participate, while also continuing to raise money for cancer research. Despite the event being cancelled at the last moment due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, the duo raised over $4,000 for the ACS. They teamed up to plan and organize the first-ever UMass Boston men’s hockey “Hockey Fights Cancer” game in December. As part of the contest, the Beacons held a Toy Drive for kids with cancer and carried out a raffle and sold items for ACS. They also designed custom pink jerseys for the game. In total, the “Men in Blades” raised over $5,000 for the ACS in 2021.
Gabbie Hughes, Senior, Forward, Minnesota Duluth
Hughes has spent most of the season leading the nation in points per game and going back and forth as the NCAA’s top scorer. Currently, Hughes has a 1.77 points per game average and has recorded 16 goals and a career-high 32 assists for 48 points through 27 games. The HCA National Player of the Month and WCHA Forward of the Month for December, she is also a two-time WCHA Forward of the Week so far this season. But Hughes has been just as busy off the ice. She was directly involved in UMD’s hosting of the first-ever collegiate Hockey Hits Back Sophie’s Squad game for mental health at AMSOIL Arena on Jan. 15 between the Bulldogs and Bemidji State. Until then, Hughes and the rest of the board members from Sophie’s Squad had only hosted Sophie’s Squad high school games around the state of Minnesota. That event raised $8,000 for Sophie’s Squad to provide resources to mental health organizations such as the SAVE organization, M3 initiative in Moorhead, MN, and 7 Cups. In all, more than 650 student athletes and managers have participated in more than 12 Hockey Hits Back and Honor games this winter, with Hughes either participating in the games on site or covering all corners of the organization’s social media when her hockey schedule doesn’t allow it.
Jordan Keeley, Senior, Goaltender, Saint Mary’s University
Keeley, a four-year member of the women’s hockey team, has been extremely active in the community. Her most recent volunteering activities included being the leader of the Saint Mary’s campus Green Bandana Project, which included organizing the Run2ForSMU Green Bandana fundraising event and hosting the We Are Not Really Broken Summit to develop next step in Green Bandana curriculum about where mental health meets leadership. Keeley also rank 250 miles in 100 days in the summer of 2021 to help raise funds for the Taylor Richmond Benefit Dance (raised $1,100 for this year’s recipient). She served as volunteer coach for the Winona Youth Hockey Association summer program and for Winona’s “Try Hockey for Free” event. Keeley Logged over 70 hours serving as a dog walker at the Winona Humane Society, and was a member of the fundraising and foster board for Alma Tails of Hope. Fostered bottle-baby kittens for Tails of Hope when COVID forced students home to quarantine in 2020. Keeley also volunteered at the hospital Information desk at Winona Health.
Josh Kosack, Senior, Forward, Union College
Kosack raised $45,000 for C.O.C.O.A. House in the second annual Kozi’s Kids fundraiser, bringing his two-year total to over $50,000. Money from the fundraiser went towards buying Christmas presents for local children, the development of a Kozi’s Kids Lounge in C.O.C.O.A. House’s second location, and funding other projects for the non-profit. In December, Kosack helped purchase $10,000 worth of toys for Capital Region children and assisted in giving out the gifts over two days during the holidays. Starting as a way to get local youth to attend Union hockey games, Kosack’s involvement with C.O.C.O.A. House now includes spending one afternoon a week at the facility, helping with homework and playing games. Kosack took his teammates to C.O.C.O.A. House in September to set up the house for the 2021-22 school year and hopes to pass his leadership role onto younger members of the team to continue his work.
Hannah Price, Junior, Defenseman, Rensselaer
Price has been a leader on and off the ice for the Engineers since stepping on campus in 2019. A member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), she has helped expand the group’s efforts to improve the RPI community and surrounding area, including a co-sponsored blood drive with the American Red Cross and making National Girls & Women in Sports Day a resounding success, teaching basic hockey skills to area youth, who may not otherwise have the opportunity. She also participates in a reading and mentoring program with Troy School 14. During her time n Troy, she has worked with the Food Recovery Network, collecting leftover food from dining facilities and delivering it to homeless shelters. Working closely with Troy Street Soldiers II, she hands out water, food and basic necessities to the less fortunate in the city. In her hometown of Pittsburgh, she spearheaded the city’s participation in Natural Resource Defense Council’s Food Matters program. Through her efforts, the city was able to increase the size, diversity, and participation of Food Matters Working Group. She was key in the campaign for Food Matters Month (December 2021) including social media outreach and a panel discussion with local leaders in the field.
Featured image by Chris Ebert.