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February 2, 2012

Yale's Aleca Hughes Named One of Five Finalists Nationally for Hockey Humanitarian Award

Courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Aleca Hughes, a senior forward on the Yale women's ice hockey team, has been named one of five finalists for the 2012 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. This is the sixth time Yale has had a finalist for the award, more than any other school. Hughes is now a two-time finalist, making her the first player in Yale history to accomplish that feat.

The Hockey Humanitarian Award, which is in its 17th year, seeks to recognize male or female college hockey players at the Division I or Division III levels who give back to their communities in the true humanitarian spirit. Hughes' efforts to help save lives have been inspired by her teammate Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011), whose battle with cancer led Hughes to start a number of initiatives, including the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.           

Mandi passed away last April after battling cancer for more than two years. Led by Hughes, Yale has organized a pair of major annual events in Mandi's name. The Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale -- led each spring by the women's ice hockey, football and field hockey teams -- has added more than 2,500 potential marrow donors to the Be The Match registry for patients with life-threatening illnesses. The women's ice hockey team also has held a "White Out for Mandi" fundraiser game at Ingalls Rink each of the past two falls. Those games have raised more than $40,000.

Hughes started the Mandi Schwartz Foundation to help keep Mandi's legacy of helping others alive. In addition to the White Out, the women's ice hockey team is raising money for the foundation by participating -- along with the Yale men's ice hockey team -- in the season-long "Goals for Good" campaign. Through that campaign, ECAC Hockey teams compete against each other to see who can raise the most money for charity.

Hughes is also her team's representative for Yale Athletics' Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Program and has been involved in many team events such as Youth Days and Skate with the Players. She and the Bulldogs also continue to spend time with their adopted teammate Giana, a local 10-year-old girl who recently had surgery for a brain tumor. Those community service efforts helped Yale, as a team, earn the New Haven Register's "Dave Solomon Memorial Sports Persons of the Year Award" for 2011.

The Yale women's ice hockey team has a well-established tradition of community service, including four other Hockey Humanitarian Award finalists -- Julianna Schantz-Dunn '00, Deanna McDevitt '03, Kristin Savard '07 (who won the award in 2007) and Crysti Howser '09.  

An American studies major, Hughes is a graduate of Hotchkiss School. She was team captain and All-New England at Hotchkiss and also played for the Connecticut Stars, earning two bronze medals and one silver at Nationals.

There were 23 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award this year, including six repeat nominees. The other four finalists are Shawn Baker of Norwich, Kevin McNamara of Colgate, Tucker Mullin of St. Anselm College and Cody Reichard of Miami.

Last season Hughes was one of eight finalists for the award.

The winner of the 2012 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award will be introduced in a ceremony on Friday, Apr. 6 as part of the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.