Award will be given annually to the top humanitarian in Wisconsin High School Hockey
The Jeff Sauer Award has been established to recognize good high school hockey players being great people. The newly-formed Coach Sauer Foundation has announced plans for the annual award to encourage community service among girls and boys high school hockey players in the state of Wisconsin. It is named after the legendary former University of Wisconsin coach and hockey ambassador Jeff Sauer, who passed away in February, 2017. The Jeff Sauer Award is modeled after the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen and seeks to recognize players, male or female, who contribute to local communities in a true humanitarian spirit. In its 22-year history, two Wisconsin natives – J.P. McKersie (Madison) and Erik Raygor (Superior) received the Hockey Humanitarian Award for their community service work at Boston University and Wisconsin, respectively.
The Coach Sauer Foundation plans to present the first Jeff Sauer Award at the awards dinner on the eve of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament annually in March. Jeff was a big proponent of Wisconsin high school hockey. In recent years he organized a youth clinic on the morning of the WIAA state tournament games and, since retiring at the UW, he was part of the television teams that brought the games over the air on Fox Sports Wisconsin and Quincy Broadcasting Network.
His list of achievements in the college hockey circuit places him among the elite in the coaching ranks. He was not only the winningest coach in Badger history in any sport, but he was the WCHA’s most victorious. Sauer spent 31 years behind the collegiate bench, including 20 in charge of the Badger hockey program. Since beginning his coaching career in 1966 as a 23-year-old assistant to the legendary Bob Johnson at Colorado College, Sauer is the only person in WCHA annals to coach 30 seasons in the league. Sauer holds numerous WCHA coaching records including those for longevity and for most games coached (1,244). His 655 wins rank eighth on the NCAA all-time coaches victory list. In his 20 years at Wisconsin, Sauer enjoyed unprecedented success. No coach won more UW games (489) or coached in more contests (841). He became the first coach in college history to win a national title in his inaugural season at a school when the 1982–83 Badgers won the school’s fourth NCAA championship. His second national title came during the 1989–90 season when his team went 36-9-1 to record the school’s second-winningest season in history. Sauer recorded four 30-win seasons (1982–83, 1987–88, 1989–90, 1999–2000), the most of any UW coach. In WCHA play, the UW finished in the league’s top three 14 times during his tenure, winning league titles in 1990 and 2000.
After retiring from college hockey, Jeff worked extensively with disabled hockey players, He coached the U.S. sled hockey team to a gold medal at the Winter Paralympics in 2014 and in his seven years as coach, Team USA won two gold medals at the Sledge Hockey World Championships. was active. Additionally, Sauer was president of the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association.
The Coach Sauer Foundation would like to encourage community service among high school players and has asked coaches to nominate players who have stood out at their school and for doing work in their local surrounding communities.
The Coach Sauer Foundation will review the achievements of this group of nominees and announce a list of finalists for the Coach Sauer Award in early February. The foundation is looking for a wide range of candidates, including team captains, role players and campus leaders of any age and hope to reward stories of volunteer efforts that help children, the handicapped, the homeless and the disadvantaged. These are stories of student-athletes who deserve notice for reasons that ultimately are more important than mere personal statistics. Madison Ice Arena has agreed to display a replica of the Jeff Sauer Award in its lobby to honor this year’s winner and all future winners.