Five college hockey players have been named finalists for the 1998 Humanitarian Award, presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen.
The finalists are Casey Hankinson, senior forward and two-year captain at Minnesota; Tyler Harlton, senior defenseman and captain of the nation’s second-ranked Michigan State Spartans; Steve Noble, senior forward and the first three-year captain in the history of hockey at Notre Dame; Erik Raygor, senior forward and two-year captain at Wisconsin; and Erin Schmalz, senior forward and two-time captain of the Cornell women’s hockey team.
The announcement of this year’s recipient will be made on Friday, April 3, in Boston as part of the festivities surrounding the NCAA Finals, to be held April 2-4 at the FleetCenter.
Boston University goalie J.P. McKersie received the inaugural Humanitarian Award in 1996, while Michigan defenseman Blake Sloan was last year’s recipient.
Profiles of the five finalists follow.
A resident of Edina, Minn., Hankinson owns a B average while majoring in individual studies in the University’s business school and has been a member of the WCHA All-Academic Team. He has been extremely involved with the youth in both his native Edina and in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
In the Twin Cities, in particular, he has volunteered to help a severely emotional and behaviorally disturbed child at a local elementary school. The youth’s experiences with Hankinson — which included the teaching and playing of hockey — helped to boost his sense of self-esteem and self-worth, according to those working with him.
Hankinson and teammate Mike Anderson would visit the local school, meeting the youngsters and signing autographs, and in one case played hockey with one of the classes.
This marks the second year Hankinson has been nominated for the Humanitarian Award. A year ago, his nomination noted his work with Ben Peyton, a neighbor in Edina paralyzed while playing high school hockey. Hankinson was there to boost the spirits not only of the young Peyton, but also the entire family. Fortunately, today Ben is back attending school and is no longer confined to his wheelchair.
A native of Pense, Sask., Harlton has a 3.69 GPA while majoring in political theory in the University’s James Madison College. His academic honors last year included GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, Academic All-CCHA and Academic All-Big Ten for the second year.
For the Spartan hockey team, he was team co-captain as a sophomore and captain his junior and senior years, making him MSU’s first three-time captain in over a decade. During the 1996-97 season, he was voted the CCHA Best Defensive Defenseman, Michigan State’s outstanding defensive player, and was Honorable Mention All-CCHA.
On top of his achievements in the classroom and in hockey, he serves as president of MSU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the MSU Athletic Council, the Student-Athlete Mentoring program, the Drug Education and Testing Committee, the Academic and Compliance Services Committee and the Varsity “S” Club.
Off campus, he regularly addresses young children on healthy lifestyles, positive self-imaging and educational values. In addition, he has participated in community service through a variety of outreach programs, most notably the national drug-resistance program D.A.R.E.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Noble is a Rhodes Scholar finalist, and owns the highest grade point average of all Fighting Irish student-athletes, with a 3.958 through the Spring 1997 semester. Noble has had only one B+ through his first seven semesters while achieving four perfect 4.0 semesters.
Enrolled in the College of Business Administration with a major in accounting, Noble was voted GTE/College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Second Team Academic All-America in 1996-97.
On the ice, he has missed just one game during his career, is among the leaders in points on the team this year, was voted Notre Dame’s best defensive forward as a sophomore and, as was noted above, is the first three-time captain in the history of UND hockey.
Elsewhere, Noble is a member of Notre Dame’s captains’ council, the NCAA Certification Committee/Academic Integrity Council and the Notre Dame Presidential Leadership Committee that meets monthly with the University president.
In addition, he is a volunteer at a local shelter for the homeless and Logan Center, a unit for mentally and physically challenged individuals. He has also helped organize Notre Dame hockey’s “Power Play Run for Cancer,” has coached youth hockey in South Bend and has been a “Christmas in April” volunteer and an Adopt-a-Highway volunteer.
A resident of Superior, Wis., Raygor has already earned his B.S. in Rehabilitative Psychology and is currently pursuing postgraduate certification in Special Education. He is the first Badger hockey player to be both a graduate student and a student-athlete, and, showing that he has been able to balance the demands of both, Raygor has been named to the Dean’s List three times, is a two-time WCHA All-Academic selection and is currently serving his second year as team captain.
Since 1994, his extra-curricular activities have taken him from his hometown of Superior to Madison to Duluth, Minn. For nearly four years, he has volunteered for Special Olympics, has been a volunteer for his hometown police department for the emergency training response and has helped the YMCA run programs for youths and adults with cognitive disabilities. Over the last three years, he has also been involved with D.A.R.E.
In 1995 and again in 1997, when the Wisconsin hockey team traveled to Duluth to play Minnesota-Duluth, he took teammates to the Miller-Duan Hospital to visit patients both in both the burn and psychiatric units.
His other activities have included a non-paying internship at an adult agency that helps people with disabilities find funding for jobs, buying houses and other activities, been a volunteer at AIDS Awareness Week, helped run a preschool at Madison East High School and coached YMCA youth soccer teams.
Erin Marie Schmalz
A native of Wilcox, Sask., Schmalz is enrolled in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. During the Spring 1997 semester, she achieved a 3.77 grade point average to bring her overall GPA to a 3.29.
Last year’s third-leading scorer with 22 points and the team’s co-MVP, Schmalz has been active in the Ithaca, N.Y., community since her arrival almost four years ago. Her activities have ranged from teaching Sunday School to spending time with her “Little Sisters” in the Tompkins Country Girls Hockey League.
She has also served as a teaching assistant in art at Cornell, in which capacity she helped her fellow students learn as they served in volunteer teaching positions in the Ithaca community.