(Courtesy of Nate Ewell, College Hockey Inc.)
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University ice hockey senior Michael Korol, whose efforts to support young hockey players have expanded from his home province of Saskatchewan to his college community in Vermont, has been named the 2021 recipient of the College Hockey Inc. Scholarship, presented by JLG Architects.
Korol receives a $2,500 postgraduate scholarship designed to celebrate an NCAA hockey student-athlete who helps build the game through their support of the next generation of hockey players.
The 2021 scholarship is awarded in honor of JLG founder Lonnie Laffen, a passionate college hockey supporter who passed away in December.
“Michael is an impressive young man, someone Lonnie Laffen would have been proud to recognize. Honoring Michael’s constant dedication to the sport of hockey and the next generation of players is why Lonnie wanted to create this scholarship,” said College Hockey Inc. Executive Director Mike Snoe. “Thank you to JLG Architects for supporting this initiative and for partnering with College Hockey Inc. to celebrate what Michael and so many NCAA hockey women and men are doing to help hockey grow.”
“We are excited to present the 2021 College Hockey Inc. scholarship to Michael Korol. Not only is he a fantastic team player on the ice, but he is also someone who helps take the game off the ice,” said Michelle Allen, CEO of JLG Architects. “We are so proud of all the student athletes who have contributed signed up and working hard to create positive growth in the future of hockey.”
Born in Saskatoon, Sask., Korol played junior hockey with the Humboldt Broncos, where he volunteered with Humboldt Minor Hockey, Humboldt Special Olympics Floor Hockey, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. With these organizations, he helped aspiring hockey players improve their skills and introduced the game to a new audience. Korol left Humboldt for Norwich a year before the organisation’s tragic bus accident in 2018, which he says is “a daily reminder of how grateful I am for an opportunity several of my fallen teammates didn’t get.”
While studying, Korol volunteered at Northfield Youth Hockey where he helped run training sessions and host teams at Norwich games. He played floor hockey with Northfield Elementary School students and spent time with those in the after-school program. He served as the community service liaison for the Norwich team and was a co-captain as a senior.
This season, as his father’s health deteriorated, Korol spent the fall semester studying remotely. While at home, he volunteered as an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Sabercats Midget AA team. Korol’s father, Robert, died in December 2020 after a battle with cancer.
“I’ve been so lucky while playing hockey, I’ve always had people who helped me every step of the way,” said Korol. “Those people have shaped my life and shaped me as a person. Out of respect for the game of hockey, I almost feel obliged to give something back and do the same for the next group of players.”
“I’ve always had valuable experiences giving back to the game,” he added. “This year in particular brought me back to the reasons I started playing hockey. When I got on the ice, my only concern was to give children a positive experience like I had as a young player.”
Korol plans to bring the College Hockey Inc. Scholarship to earn a degree in medicine in hopes of becoming a pediatrician. He is currently preparing for the MCAT and expects to enroll in the University of Saskatchewan medical school in the fall.
“It is a huge honor to receive this grant and I am extremely grateful,” said Korol. “I have so much respect for groups like JLG Architects and College Hockey Inc. who provide these opportunities. I hope one day I can give back in the same way.”
“I’m extremely excited about Michael,” said Norwich University head coach Cam Ellsworth. “He is an exceptional person who has pushed through quite a bit over the past four years. Regardless of what Michael faced personally, he had a relentless positive attitude and consistently put others first, be it his teammates, our Norwich campus community or its local communities, both in Vermont and Saskatchewan.
The College Hockey Inc. Scholarship, presented by JLG Architects, was first awarded in 2020, with the inaugural award going to Breanna Scarpaci of Boston University. Korol is the first male and Division III recipient of the award.
Founded in 2009 in partnership with USA Hockey, College Hockey, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Division I men’s hockey to prospective players and fans through extensive marketing and information efforts. The entity is managed under the auspices of a 12-member board of directors and works closely with the commissioners, coaching staff and administrators of the 61 programs and six conferences sponsored by Division I hockey.
JLG is a 100% employee-owned architecture firm with more than 150 architects, interior designers, community and fundraising specialists, and related staff spread across 11 offices in Minnesota, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and North Dakota, and has been named one of the Top 25 Sports Facility Architecture Giants in the US by Building design + construction, the best architects of ice hockey arenas in the US Midwest by LUXlife International, and one of the 50 most admired companies in America by MSN Money. JLG’s dedicated ice hockey studio is the Preferred Architecture Partner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Western Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association.
The co-founder of JLG Architects and a lifelong hockey fan, Lonnie Laffen devoted his career to “rethinking the rink” by challenging longstanding perceptions of how fans, players and facility managers are made better by the matchday and practice environment. Directly involved in the planning and execution of all JLG ice projects nationwide for over 30 years, from Sacred Heart University to Colorado College. In addition to his focus on the sport, Lonnie was a passionate advocate for the state of North Dakota, where he served as the state senator for Grand Forks District 43 from 2010 – 2018. Lonnie passed away in December 2020, leaving behind a legacy of hockey excellence. , which will live on through the work of its dedicated sports architecture team.
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