DENVER, COLORADO - The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation
announced today that Williams College senior forward Will Bruce
(Nashville, TN ) is the recipient of the 2008 Hockey Humanitarian
Award, presented by BNY Mellon Wealth Management. Bruce is the 13th
recipient of the award, which was created to recognize college
hockey players who give back to their communities in the true
humanitarian spirit. Bruce was recognized in a ceremony tonight at
Pepsi Center, site of the NCAA men's ice hockey Frozen Four, in
conjunction with the Hobey Baker Award presentation and
the Pontiac Frozen Four Skills Challenge.
Bruce is a four-year letter winner, majoring in history and economics, achieving Dean's List honors each semester and Academic All- NESCAC honors each year he was eligible. He has earned a two-year fellowship at University of Oxford in England where he will enter the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program (PPE). Yet this only begins to tell Bruce's story, for like a true humanitarian, he cares far more for the community around him than he does for himself.
As a youth, Bruce recognized the disparities between his life experience and that of the less fortunate, and it wasn't long before he took action and was volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity. His "giving back" has carried on ever since. Bruce has offered nearly 1,200 hours of community service, and he plans on doing so throughout his professional career.
Make no mistake however: when it comes to caring for community, Bruce isn't a follower. He's a leader.
|Will Bruce -- a true scholar-|
As a junior, Bruce developed a financial education curriculum
that he taught to low-income adults. Through this initiative, Bruce
also organized a volunteer service group that provided
financial education and tax return filing assistance for low-income adults and families. With the help of seven volunteers (including five hockey players), Bruce's team generated approximately $100,000 in tax refunds and saved the adults the fees they would have otherwise paid to have their taxes prepared. Not surprisingly Bruce deflected praise for winning the Humanitarian award.
"It's a great honor to receive this award, but to me it recognizes more than an individual," said Bruce. "This award recognizes the importance of teamwork. I've never had a teammate or another
Williams team turn down a request to participate in a community service project. The Hockey Humanitarian Award reflects the contribution that sports in general and, athletes in particular, can have in the community, making a positive impact on the lives of others."
Bruce is making a difference both at Williams College, as well as back home in Nashville, where twice a week during the summer of 2005, he tutored low-income adults studying for the GED. That same summer, he also volunteered 20 hours a week at a local domestic violence shelter, providing office assistance like helping fill out restraining orders.
As evidenced by this work, Bruce has a passion for helping the less fortunate. He worked to integrate Williams student-volunteers into the Firends of Foster Families program started at MCLA (North Adams), which works to mentor foster children living in the surrounding Williams and MCLA communities. He's also coordinating volunteer efforts at a local homeless shelter to help kids with homework and preparation to obtain their GED. What else has Bruce done? The list is endless.
Two years ago, Bruce and a Williams teammate took over the organizing duties for 'Best Buddies,' a program that matches the mentally and physically handicapped with Williams College 'buddies' to
foster social inclusion. The program includes 'Sunday Skates' with handicapped adults.
Bruce has his own 'Best Buddy,' a young man named Ramone, who is blind. The relationship began when Bruce first arrived at Williams, and goes far beyond the few hours designated for the program. "We often shoot baskets (together)," said Bruce. "We go bowling, shoot hockey
pucks, and even go to Friendly's for milk shakes."
As a sophomore, Bruce designed a 'Read for Fun' program to encourage reading among local youth hockey players. If a youth player read a book and wrote up a book report, that player could then serve as a stick boy/girl at a future home hockey game.
|Will Bruce scored a team-high four game-winning goals this season|
Bruce also developed a program that will commence subsequent to his departure from Williams. An offshoot of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, it will be called the 'Lehman Council Buddies,' a one-on-one mentoring program modeled after 'Best Buddies.' It will include 'Sunday Skates,' as well as programs involving the Williams basketball and baseball teams. From day one, Bruce was its architect.
He dealt with liability issues, transportation logistics,
recruiting student athlete mentors, and selling the concept to
Williams' athletic teams. "This honor is well deserved
because Will has heightened the awareness of community service on
our team," said Williams College men's hockey coach Bill Kangas.
"Coaches always talk to their teams about the memories they will
make during their careers, but Will has created even more lasting
memories by getting his teammates and scores of other Eph athletes
into positions where they can make a lasting impact on the lives of
others in need."
Beyond winning the Hockey Humanitarian Award, Bruce in January was recognized by Athletes for a Better World with the prestigious John Wooden Citizenship Cup, emblematic of "the most outstanding role model in college athletics who has made the greatest difference in the lives
of others." Named for legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, the award recognizes one amateur and one professional athlete each year. Nearly 380,000 NCAA athletes from over 17,000 teams are eligible nominees for the award. Previous winners include Peyton Manning, John Smoltz and John Lynch.
Not only a four-year letterman for Williams, Bruce played in 97 games, netting 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points. This season, he scored four game-winning goals. Only fitting, because with an attitude like his, Bruce will be netting game-winners his entire life.
"It's not just solving a problem," said Bruce, "it's letting people know they matter."