Moving towards the next big chapter of school, Damian Figueira, Hannah Petrosino and Seth Morrison have something to look forward to as they enter university in the fall. With more than just great athleticism in common, these three are this year’s recipients of the NHLPA Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarship.
Graham and LuAnn Snyder, parents of Dan, opened the door to their home in Waterloo on August 15 to present the winning plaques and award each recipient with $1,600 that will be put towards their postsecondary education costs.
In the Elmira Sugar Kings category, Figueira was chosen as the recipient. Growing up in Toronto, the 20-year-old has played organized hockey all his life. “I played a few different sports when I was younger, but hockey is what I love watching on TV, and we’re in Canada, so it’s like second nature. Once I started playing I didn’t want to stop,” he said.
At the age of 16, Figueira decided to play prep school hockey abroad in New York where he returned a year later to play junior hockey in Ontario. Before joining the Elmira Sugar Kings, he played in the Quebec league.
“I heard nothing but good things about Elmira and my agent said it’s a good place to stay.
“It’s a great team game. I love being with my buddies all the time and it’s a fun sport to play and being on the ice is fun. I want to go pro someday,” Figueira added.
The young hockey player will continue playing his favourite sport at York University where he will be attending in the fall for the health and society program.
A lifelong Conestogo resident, Petrosino was awarded this year’s scholarship in the Woolwich Community category.
Starting at the age of eight, Petrosino found a love for both hockey and soccer, both of which she played in Woolwich every year. Her focus has been primarily on soccer, in which she’s a goalkeeper.
“The goalies are like being a part of the circus because we’re doing somersaults and rolls and weird things like that,” she said with a laugh.
This year was the first year Petrosino has played soccer outside of Woolwich, joining a Guelph team where she continues to play the game she loves.
“There’s something nice about being outside, and even if it’s really windy, it might even be snowing but it’s always nice to just kind of be out in nature and working hard,” Petrosino explained.
Winning the scholarship feels like a great honour, the young athlete said.
“It’s nice. I think it’s a real honour after I just read the things on the plaque – sportsmanship, dedication, and determination, which I think describes me very well. I try to do things fairly.”
In September, Petrosino will be attending the University of Waterloo in the honours arts degree program, and she will be trying out for the UW women’s soccer team, a pursuit she expects to be fun and challenging.
Elmira’s Morrison is the recipient of the Woolwich Community Open award this year through his involvement in soccer and community initiatives.
From an early age Morrison was involved in both hockey and soccer but he eventually quit hockey at the age of 12 due to several concussions and decided to put his efforts into minor soccer.
“I think it’s about just being with teammates and friends because when you’re this age you don’t care that much about getting scouted or anything, it’s just fun to play sports. I just like playing sports and you can learn a lot from playing them,” said Morrison on his love for soccer.
For Morrison, sports are about more than awards and accolades.
“It represents a lot of great things, like the dedication. With sports and out of sports I’ve been able to have the opportunities to contribute a lot to the community and do lots of volunteer work and being captain of teams taught me about leadership,” he said.
The Dan Snyder Memorial Scholarship was named for the Elmira native who passed away as a result of a car accident in 2003 in Atlanta, where he played as part the NHL’s Thrashers.
Since the inception of the scholarships in 2004, it has provided some $64,000 to local students and athletes who represent Dan’s legacy of perseverance.
To qualify for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in an accredited postsecondary institution recognized by Resolve Canada. They must also meet the award’s criteria of dedication, sportsmanship and determination as exhibited by Dan.
“We feel very proud first of all, that there’s young people out there that are carrying on in Dan’s footsteps. They’ve got an obvious passion for what they do, but they also are very involved in the community. That’s something that’s always been at the top of the list for these awards,” said Graham Snyder.