Chicago Blackhawks: Luke Kania

Olczyk Award giving hockey opportunities

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
4:49
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Kathy Kania always promised her son, Luke, she would find a way to pay for his hockey if he was serious about the sport.

Luke lived up to his end. He put in the time and effort to become a skilled goaltender from when he was in fourth grade into his high school years. As Luke improved and started to get noticed for his ability, his opportunities to play for better teams increased. More competitive teams also meant more travel and expenses, and it became harder for Kathy, a single mother raising three children in Chicago, to meet those financial demands.

Eddie Olczyk
Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsThe Eddie Olczyk award has provided $55,000 in the last two years to 25 applicants in Illinois who couldn't afford the financial requirements of playing competitive hockey.
The largest hockey opportunity for Luke came two years ago when he was invited to play for Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep in Minnesota. Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews are the among the school's many alumni to go on to the NHL. Kathy wanted so badly to give her son that chance as well, but the tuition and boarding were out of the family’s price range.

Kathy was still searching for a way to pay for the school when her phone rang one day. It was Eddie Olczyk calling, and he was about to change their situation. Olczyk told her Luke was being awarded the Eddie Olczyk Award and would be given the financial assistance needed to pay for Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep.

“It provided an opportunity of a lifetime for my son,” Kathy said in a recent phone interview. “He worked so many years to get to a certain level. At that point to have the opportunity to move on and utilize that talent, he couldn’t have had that opportunity without that grant. To see him able to do that, that’s what every parent hopes for.”

The Chicago Blackhawks and Olczyk created the award specifically for people like Kathy and Luke. They’ve awarded $55,000 in the last two years to 25 applicants, which have included players and organizations, in Illinois who couldn’t afford the financial requirements of playing competitive hockey.

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