As her college hockey career at Yale was coming to a close, Aleca Hughes heard the words from mentors, coaches, and friends. The skillset that she had learned, and developed as an athlete, from discipline to competitiveness, to character, would translate well into the corporate world.
At the time, she didn’t want to listen.
“All I wanted to do was play hockey,” recalled Hughes, a 2012 graduate of Yale, where she was a senior captain on the women’s hockey team. She never missed a game in four years, compiling 30 goals and 31 assists in 116 games.
As a senior at Yale, Hughes was the recipient of the BNY Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented annually to an NCAA Division 1 or 3 college hockey player who “most personifies true community spirit through the selfless commitment of leadership, effort, and time.”
A finalist for the award as a junior, Hughes was selected for her dedicated work in establishing the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, named after her former teammate at Yale who died in the spring of 2011 after a two-year battle with leukemia. She was also the first member of the Ivy League to win the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup.
The first two “White Out for Mandi” fundraiser games at Ingalls Rink at Yale raised more than $50,000. To date, the Mandi Schwartz Foundation has raised more than $115,000.
“Mandi’s story is so relatable and personable. People understand that Mandi needed a match and couldn’t find one. That’s been the power of Mandi’s story all along.
Hughes, 25, is still heavily involved with the foundation, which raises awareness of the value of bone marrow and umbilical cord blood donations and offers support to players with life-threatening injuries. According to Hughes, at least 25 lives have been saved through bone marrow matches tied to the drives sponsored by the Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
“That’s pretty awesome,” said Hughes, who makes her home in South Boston.
Aside from her career and charitable work, Hughes is also on the board of the Hockey Humanitarian Association. She recently sifted through a large pile of applicants to help determine this year’s award winner.
Hughes also skates in a women’s hockey league on Sunday nights, and just organized another bone marrow drive at Yale on Friday night, with another one on tap for April. “Good things continue to happen,” she said.