Western Michigan’s Bennett awarded NCHC postgraduate scholarship on way to medical school

Kale Bennett is a defenseman on the ice for WMU and a 3.99 GPA student in the classroom (photo: Mark Kuhlmann).

With aspirations of becoming an orthopedic surgeon, Western Michigan senior defenseman Kale Bennett has been selected the recipient of the 2021 NCHC postgraduate scholarship.

Bennett becomes the second Bronco to earn the scholarship in its six-year history, along with Aaron Hadley in 2016-17.

Also named the NCHC’s senior scholar-athlete award winner for 2020-21 earlier in March, Bennett becomes the third student-athlete to win both that award and the NCHC postgraduate scholarship, along with Omaha’s Joel Messner (2017-18) and Denver’s Gabe Levin (2015-16).

Bennett is set to graduate from WMU in April with his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences, while compiling a near-perfect 3.99 grade-point average. He will also complete minors in chemistry, psychology and sociology. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Bennett will take the MCAT this spring and plans to attend medical school where he’ll put his scholarship to use.

“We are honored to present the NCHC Postgraduate Scholarship to Kale Bennett of Western Michigan,” said NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton in a statement. “Kale’s success in the classroom is impressive, as he was awarded our 2021 senior scholar-athlete recognition as well. Kale’s pursuit of being a medical doctor is inspiring and we are proud to have him a part of the NCHC family.”

Bennett is a four-time member of the NCHC academic all-conference team and a four-time NCHC distinguished scholar-athlete, as well as a three-time AHCA All-American scholar. He also garnered WMU’s Peter Ellis academic player of the year honor each of the last three seasons (2018-20).

Bennett served as an alternate captain for the Broncos this season, playing in 23 of 25 games on the WMU blue line. He finishes his career with 113 games played for Western Michigan, recording 17 points on three goals and 14 assists, including one helper this season.

“My world is constantly surrounded by broken bones and torn ligaments, which have always intrigued me and influenced my life goals,” Bennett wrote in his scholarship nomination. “Attending medical school is not only an important step in becoming a doctor, but a necessary and required one. I am excited to further my education, as understanding the human body, how it works, and how to aid in the healing process has always fascinated me.”

The NCHC’s postgraduate scholarship is funded by a grant from the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs, which has also supported the NCHC by providing its office headquarters on the grounds of the Penrose House and helping cover the cost of the Penrose Cup.

Bennett’s scholarship award amount will be $7,500.

“The NCHC membership and board of directors are thankful for the support of Mr. Kyle Hybl and the El Pomar Foundation Board of Directors.” Fenton said. “Celebrating our student’s success is a cornerstone of our conference and we are proud to share in this honor with El Pomar.”

To be eligible for the NCHC’s postgraduate scholarship, the student-athlete must be a senior on the official NCAA hockey roster with at least a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average, who plans to continue his academic studies beyond his undergraduate degree. The recipient must enroll in a postgraduate degree program within three years of receiving the scholarship to collect the financial aid. The winner is chosen by a vote of the NCHC’s faculty athletics representatives (FARs) from among the nominees submitted by each school’s FAR.