Matthew Schieck and Connor Venier both have something to be grateful for just in time for school. The two are this year’s recipients of an NHLPA Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarship.

Each will receive $2,250 for their postsecondary education costs in the fall. They were presented plaques by Graham and Lu Ann Snyder, Dan’s parents, at their Waterloo home this week.

Connor Venier and Matthew Schieck are this year's recipients of Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarships, receiving the awards Wednesday at the Waterloo home of Graham and Lu Ann Snyder.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Connor Venier and Matthew Schieck are this year’s recipients of Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarships, receiving the awards Wednesday at the Waterloo home of Graham and Lu Ann Snyder. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
“We’re always very proud of all our recipients and I’m honoured they all apply for the scholarship and get accepted,” Lu Ann said. “We didn’t have as many this year but fortunately for Connor and Matt that meant a little more.”

The Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarship was created after Dan Snyder passed away as a result of a 2003 car accident in Atlanta, where he was a member of the NHL’s Thrashers. He grew up living and breathing hockey in Elmira.

The scholarship has provided more than $40,120 to local students who are active athletes and community leaders.

Schieck will be heading to the University of Guelph in September to study business with a minor in kinesiology. The award is particularly special to him, as his family is related to the Snyders through marriage. He previously played for the Sugar Kings, as Dan did, but will be playing for the Wellesley Applejacks this year.

Schieck received the scholarship in the Woolwich Community Open category, while Venier was awarded in the Woolwich Minor Hockey category.

“It’s a huge honour to win it, to be honest. What it represents … it’s a huge honour to me,” Schieck said.

He’s been playing sports from a young age, including soccer, baseball, hockey, ball hockey, and golf.

“It’s good stress relief I find. I’ve made a ton of lifelong friends, and that’s probably the biggest thing when I think of it,” Schieck said.

Venier is off to Carleton University in Ottawa this fall as a history major, considering pursuing a career in teaching. The Elmira native played baseball and then minor hockey for 10 years. He has his hockey gear packed in anticipation of continuing it recreationally at university.

“Hockey was something I could really focus my mind on and I had a really good time playing,” Venier said. “It really helped me build my confidence up and overall feel better playing as a team.”

The awards are given out on the basis of sportsmanship, dedication, determination, and scholastics; the qualities exemplified by Dan Snyder. Lu Ann says it’s important to continue the scholarship to carry on Dan’s legacy.

“Now the next generation is here and they need to know who he was and what he did,” Lu Ann said. “We’re already finding some kids are 12, 13 years old, they don’t know who Dan is. It’s trying to hand that over to the next group of kids and make it important. He was so much a community person.”

To qualify for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in a postsecondary institution recognized by Resolve Canada. They must also live in Woolwich Township and be active in sports, but not necessarily the top player on the team.

“That’s what Dan was all about, helping other kids and helping kids get better and be a better person.”