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Aleca Hughes Wins Sarah Devens Award for Leadership

Aleca Hughes. (photo by David Silverman,
Aleca Hughes. (photo by David Silverman,

Yale Captain Honored for Efforts On and Off Ice

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.), a senior forward and captain of the Yale women's ice hockey team, has been named the winner of the 2011-12 Sarah Devens Award. Given as a joint award between ECAC Hockey and Hockey East, the Devens Award is presented annually to a student-athlete who "demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice."  It is named in honor of former Dartmouth ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse captain Sarah Devens, who died in 1995 prior to her senior year of college. All female student-athletes in ECAC Hockey and Hockey East are eligible, and each conference submitted a league nominee for consideration. Hughes is the second Yale player to earn the honor, following Jackee Snikeris '11, who won it last year. She receives a post-graduate scholarship of $10,000.

Hughes is the 16th recipient of the Sarah Devens Award.

"I am honored to be recognized among the list of prior recipients and Sarah Devens," said Hughes. "Sarah's legacy as a hardworking and accomplished student-athlete is inspiring. I am grateful to accept this scholarship. I know it will help me going forward."

The 31st different 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.

In addition to her academic and athletic accomplishments, Hughes has truly shined in her commitment to community service. In addition to winning the Devens Award, she is also a finalist for three national awards for her humanitarian leadership efforts.

Hughes is one of five finalists for the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award, which includes every male and female NCAA hockey player in Division I and Division III. The winner of the Hockey Humanitarian Award will be announced in a ceremony on Friday, Apr. 6, as part of the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla. 

That same day, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports announces the winners of its Giant Steps Award. Hughes and the charity she started, the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, are one of three finalists for in the "Community Organization" category.

Hughes is also one of five collegiate finalists for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, presented to two distinguished athletes -- one collegiate and one professional -- for their character and leadership both on and off the field and their contributions to sport and society. The winner of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup will be announced Wednesday, Apr. 25, in a ceremony in Atlanta, Ga.

Hughes' efforts to help save lives have been inspired by her teammate Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011). Mandi's battle with cancer has led Hughes to start a number of initiatives, including the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. Mandi passed away Apr. 3, 2011, 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 April by the women's ice hockey, football and field hockey teams -- has added nearly 2,500 potential marrow donors to the Be The Match registry and located at least six genetic matches 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 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.

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 also has volunteered as a coach with Yale Youth Hockey.

Hughes 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.

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.


Sarah Devens Award Winners
1996-97 Kathryn Waldo, Northeastern
1997-98 Sarah Hood, Dartmouth
1998-99 Jaime Totten, Northeastern
1999-2000 Carrie Jokiel, New Hampshire
2000-01 Christina Sorbara, Brown
2001-02 Dianna Bell, Cornell
2002-03 Rachel Barrie, St. Lawrence
2003-04 Lindsay Charlebois, Harvard
2004-05 Nicole Corriero, Harvard
2005-06 Karen Thatcher, Providence
2006-07 Lindsay Williams, Clarkson
2007-08 Lizzie Keady, Princeton
2008-09 Marianna Locke, St. Lawrence
2009-10 Laura Gersten, Rensselaer
2010-11 Jackee Snikeris, Yale
2011-12 Aleca Hughes, Yale

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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity