Showing Heart on and off the ice

The 18th Annual Have A Heart hockey tournament recently saw 175 players represent 13 women’s recreational hockey teams from New England and five youth hockey players were awarded $250 scholarships to continue their hockey endeavors, with the money generated by the Central MA Women’s Hockey League.

The annual Michelle “Shelley” L’Ecuyer Memorial Scholarship totaled $1,250 and was presented to the hockey scholarship recipients by LUK CEO Beth Barto on Feb. 19.

“On behalf of Shelley’s family, I would like to congratulate this year’s award recipients. Your commitment to your families and the game of hockey encourages us all,” Ron L’Ecuyer said. “I would also like to thank the Central MA Women’s Hockey League and LUK, Inc. for continuing these efforts, and keeping Shelley’s wish alive. Her passion for children and hockey was unwavering. I am sure she is looking down on all of you with great praise.”

The Have A Heart Tournament combines many things that Shelley loved in life: hockey, helping the community, and helping children. Since Shelley’s untimely death during the 2010 tournament, the event has honored the memory of the former Fitchburg resident, teammate, and LUK employee.

L’Ecuyer worked for more than 20 years at LUK. The partnership between the Central MA Women’s Hockey League and LUK —  a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the safety, health, and well-being of youth, families, and adults in Central Mass. — awards scholarships to hockey-playing children and provides a wonderful tribute to a woman who loved the sport and helping others.

The Central MA Women’s Hockey League previously known as the Fitchburg Women’s Hockey League was founded in September 2002 by a group of women who simply wanted an opportunity to play hockey. Today, with the help of many, that dream has grown into a 6-team league with local businesses sponsoring each team. The membership has grown to over 100 women ages 18 to 60, of varying abilities, hailing from Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The Central MA Women’s Hockey League provides a recreational, yet competitive, opportunity for women to play the game of hockey, improve on skills, and just have fun with a wonderful group of women! The league encourages and supports women of all abilities and backgrounds.

Scholarships were awarded to Rylee Guimond, Julian Kelly, Makayla Rydwansky, William Murphy and Garrett Murphy.

“One of the highlights of the year is for the scholarship committee to read the youth essays on how hockey has helped them be resilient in life,” Barto said. “Engaging in team sports helps young people problem solve, strengthen social skills, and reinforces the importance of being reliable and dependable which prepares them for future aspirations.”