January 13, 2012

Aleca Hughes Among Nominees for Hockey Humanitarian Award

Inspired by Teammate Mandi Schwartz, Yale Captain Has Led Efforts to Save Lives

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.), a senior forward on the Yale women's ice hockey team, was named as one of the nominees for the 2012 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award on Friday. The award 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. This is the award's 17th year. Hughes' efforts to help save lives have been inspired by her teammate Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011), whose battle with cancer has led Hughes to start 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 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 is recovering from surgery for a brain tumor.

The Yale women's ice hockey team has a well-established tradition of community service in general, 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 are 23 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award this year, including six repeat nominees. Hughes was one of eight finalists for the award last season, becoming the fifth Yale women's ice hockey player to be named a finalist.

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.

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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity