Harvard senior co-captain Julie Chu was announced today as the 2007 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, given annually by USA Hockey to the nation’s top player among Division I programs.
Chu finished the regular season tied for the national lead in points with 66 on 18 goals and 48 assists, and was a unanimous First Team All-ECACHL selection.
“I thought it was nerve wracking to play in front of 5000 Wisconsin fans,” said Chu, as she accepted the award. She was referring to her last game in a Harvard uniform, a 1-0 quadruple overtime thriller won by Wisconsin. “But with the walk from [my seat] to here, my heart is racing.”
Chu becomes the tenth recipient of the award, joining previous Harvard winners Angela Ruggiero (2004), Jennifer Botterill (2003, 2001), and A.J. Mleczko (1999), who was the keynote speaker at the award brunch.
“It’s all about good recruiting,” joked Harvard coach Katey Stone, about the fact that her program has produced as many Kazmaier Awards as all other schools combined.
“All of them are so different,” she continued, on a more serious note. “A.J. was was such a dynamic player for her time. Botterill was an offensive force. Angela is one of the most incredibly gifted athletes you’ll ever meet.
“But Julie never worked for individual awards. She always worked hard for the team’s success. If she could have her teammates here playing for a national title, she’d just as soon see someone else get it.”
Chu echoed that notion during her acceptance speech.
“It’s not about me, it’s about something so much larger than me,” Chu said. “My team was going to get on a bus and drive five hours just to be here, to be with me, and then turn around after the brunch and drive five hours to get back home. But because of the white stuff out there [a snowstorm that blanketed New England with snow and freezing rain] they couldn’t make it. That, for me, is the hardest part.”
The Kazmaier award is named after Patty Kazmaier, a standout defenseman from Princeton University from 1981 to 1986 who lost her life following a battle with a rare blood disease. The award, now celebrating its 10th season, was set up to nor outstanding players in the women’s college hockey world. Patty’s father Dick won football’s similar Heisman Trophy in 1951.
A 13-member selection committee from around the country, consisting of coaches and media members, select the top three candidates as well as the winner from a list of 10 finalists nominated by all Division I women’s hockey coaches. The ballots are tabulated by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was represented at the banquet by former Boston College goaltender Alison Quandt.
This year, the format of the banquet changed from a evening dinner to a morning brunch. The day of the award, the Saturday off-day at the women’s Frozen four, remained the same. Four previous winners, Sara Bauer, Ali Brewer, A.J. Mleczko, and Angela Ruggiero were in attendance.