April 6, 2012

Yale captain Hughes wins Hockey Humanitarian Award

Staff Report

Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.), whose efforts to help save lives have been inspired by her teammate Mandi Schwartz (1988-2011), has been named the winner of the 2012 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. 

Aleca Hughes accepts the 2012 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. (Dave Arnold Photography)

The award, which is open to every male and female NCAA hockey player in Division I and Division III, was presented to Hughes in a ceremony at Channelside Bay Plaza on Friday night as part of the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.  A senior forward and team captain, Hughes is the 17th recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award.

Schwartz passed away Apr. 3, 2011, after battling cancer for more than two years.  She inspired Hughes to start a number of initiatives, including the Mandi Schwartz Foundation and the annual “White Out for Mandi” fundraiser game at Ingalls Rink each fall. The first two “White Outs” have raised more than $50,000. Mandi’s parents, Carol and Rick Schwartz, travelled from Saskatchewan to Tampa to be a part of Friday’s Hockey Humanitarian Award ceremony. They presented Hughes with a donation to the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.

Hughes has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the value of marrow donation -- and umbilical cord blood donation -- for patients with life-threatening illnesses. She has been one of the driving forces behind the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale, which is led each April by the women’s ice hockey, football and field hockey teams. The first such drive was held in 2009, shortly after Schwartz was initially diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The three drives at Yale have added nearly 2,500 potential marrow donors to the Be The Match registry and located at least six genetic matches who donated to patients with life-threatening illnesses. The 2012 drive is scheduled for Apr. 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Commons on the Yale campus in New Haven.

This past fall Hughes started the Mandi Schwartz Foundation to keep Mandi’s legacy of helping others alive. In addition to the White Out, the women’s ice hockey team raised 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 competed against each other to see who could raise the most money for charity. That campaign was started by one of this year’s other Hockey Humanitarian Award finalists, Colgate’s Kevin McNamara. The other finalists were Shawn Baker of Norwich, Tucker Mullin of St. Anselm and Cody Reichard of Miami (Ohio).

The 31st person to captain the Yale women’s ice hockey team in its 35-year varsity history, Hughes led the team in assists (11) and points (15) this past season. She was among Yale’s top four scorers every season of her career, and led the team in goals (a career-high 10) in 2010-11.

Hughes did not miss a game in her career, finishing with 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points in 116 games. She is in Yale’s career top 20 for goals (20th), assists (t-19th) and points (20th). She has twice earned Yale’s Mandi Schwartz Award for courage, grit and determination.

Hughes has also excelled in the classroom, and will receive her fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic honor this year. She is an American studies major and intends to go to business school to learn more about non-profit management after a few years of gaining work experience.

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.