When Cliff Koroll and the late Keith Magnuson decided to form the Blackhawks Alumni Association, it was originally to help assist fellow former players in need.
Then they decided to accept applications and award a college scholarship to a deserving local high school hockey player through the year-round fund-raising done by the BAA. That first scholarship was for 1,500 and went to Tom Dillon.
25 years later, Dillon now organizes the annual luncheon honoring that years recipients, and the Class of 2012 and the All-State team were recognized Monday at the Hyatt Lodge at McDonalds Campus in Oak Brook. Most of the current Blackhawks players were there, many alumni and coach Joel Quenneville as well as the bulk of the front office, including Chairman Rocky Wirtz and President & CEO John McDonough.
We had 71 applications this year, said Koroll, the Associations President. Ten of us went through all the applications. We had a scoring system, and these three kids were way above everybody else.
Congratulations to Laura Brennan, Jacob Wachlin and Stephanie Jackson.
We got another three great kids two females, which shows that women are slowly taking over here, Koroll smiled. I think that gives us eight or nine girls thatve been recipients.
The decision process is based on five categories, with each applicant receiving up to ten points in each category by the ten panelists. Theyre judged based on need, their grades, community involvement, character (through letters of recommendation) and essays they write on what hockey means to them and why they feel theyre deserving. Koroll says four of the top six applicants were females, a statement as to how far girls hockey has come in Illinois.
Im really excited to be part of the organization. When I got the call, I just kept saying thank you over and over again because I didnt know what else to say, said Brennan, who attends Oak Park-River Forest High School but plays defense for Fenwick and has yet to decide where to attend college. (Hockeys) definitely shaped me as a person. Socially, Ive met a lot of friends through hockey, people Ill never forget. But its also helped me become a better thinker. Just playing hockey forces me to make decisions faster and think more critically about things. Its given me opportunities to meet new people, try new things and given me the confidence to do that.
Wachlin was similarly excited upon finding out he got the scholarship.
I was just so pumped (when receiving the phone call), said Wachlin, who is home-schooled in Arlington Heights and plays left wing for PREP (a team formed from students from Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove and Prospect). It was just so exciting to get the phone call, I was so pumped after seeing so many Hawks games. Its just cool to get helped out for school by such a cool organization.
Wachlin wants to pursue mechanical engineering at either Michigan Tech or M.I.T., while Jackson, who plays center for the Naper Valley Warriors, plans on attending Illinois and playing for its club team while studying animal sciences for veterinary medicine.
When they called, I didnt get the news. They called my mom, and when she told me, I didnt believe her at first, said Jackson. The next day, I got about 20 emails from people in the (Blackhawks) organization congratulating me.
The Alumni Association has now awarded 82 scholarships, providing more than 1 million worth of education to its recipients.