Release and photo courtesy of UMass Boston Athletics Communications. Read the original release here.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—UMass Boston men's ice hockey student-athletes Jake Adkins (Centennial, Colo.) and Andy Walker (Mason, Mich.) were named nominees for the 2021 Hockey Humanitarian Award, the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation announced Monday afternoon.
The award, which is celebrating its 26th season, is presented annually to college hockey's finest citizen – a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.
The pair of Beacons sophomores, who call themselves the Men in Blades, are the second and third ever UMass Boston players to be honored. Last year's men's hockey captain Dakota Keene ('20) was the first-ever Beacon nominee (2020). They are the only duo to be recognized on this year's list.
Kevin Fitzgerald of Saint Cloud State University, Josh Kosack of Union College, Dyllan Lubbesmeyer of Robert Morris University, Grace Markey of Quinnipiac University and Delaney Wolf of St. Mary's University are the other five nominees. The Men in Blades and Wolf are the only Division III players on this year's "semifinalist list."
Finalists for the 2021 Hockey Humanitarian Award will be named later this month. The 2021 recipient will be honored on Friday, April 9thduring the NCAA Men's Hockey Frozen Four weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Adkins and Walker teamed up to plan and execute the trip of a lifetime this summer. The pair rollerbladed 875 miles from Boston to Walker's hometown in Mason, Michigan to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The two student-athletes left Boston on July 13thand reached Mason 9.5 days later, while dealing with a heat wave in the middle of their trip.
In total, they raised over $31,000 for ACS, in addition to raising tons of awareness for the continued need for donations for charities like ACS.
Both players have been personally affected by cancer.
Adkins' mother Ali was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in spring 2014. She was in and out of the hospital for a year and was declared in remission in 2015. "It's always something that's going to hang heavy on me. It was crazy seeing my mom with no hair and trying on wigs with her. It was humbling… I'm so glad that she's still with me," said Adkins. Then last summer his best friend's mother passed from breast cancer, "so, she is extra motivation for our trip… There's all this craziness in the world, yet there's still people battling cancer. We want to bring a positive light in the darkness."
Walker's grandfather passed away from cancer when he was young, and he said the American Cancer Society was an easy choice of charity to support. "We were sitting around, not knowing what to do. Practice was off. Gyms were closed. So, we bought rollerblades," said Walker. "Our hardship on the trip will be a lot less than what people with cancer have gone through… Hopefully, this will help globally.
Both student-athletes played key roles on the 2019-20 men's hockey team. Walker played in all 26 games and led or tied for first all Beacons' freshmen with his four goals, 11 assists and 15 points. After dealing with several early-season injuries, Adkins finished the year with three goals and one assist in 20 contests.