Photo courtesy of Mark Selders
In the world of college hockey, there are many successful student-athletes.
And then there’s Penn State forward David Goodwin.
In four years as a Nittany Lion, the senior captain has helped redefine what it means to be a successful college hockey player, through his performance on the ice, in the classroom and his commitment to serving others which extends beyond the campus, to the surrounding community and to foreign countries such as Cuba.
It’s Goodwin’s devotion to helping others that’s made him one of five finalists for the 2017 Hockey Humanitarian Award, “presented to college hockey’s finest citizen who best exemplifies the qualities of character, scholarship, and devotion to the game, the team and the community.” The winner will be announced during a ceremony on April 7 at the Frozen Four in Chicago.
“It’s an honor,” Goodwin said, of being named as a finalist for the award. “With my service experiences (though), I don’t do them in any way to seek recognition.”
It’s a statement that rings true when you look back at his life to date.
Goodwin’s commitment to serving others is one he’d established long before he arrived at Penn State in 2013. In high school, the Missouri native volunteered at a St. Louis-area school, working one-on-one as a classroom aide with special needs students. When his hockey career brought him to Cedar Rapids in the USHL, he and his RoughRider teammates delivered meals to the elderly as part of the Meals On Wheels program.
In the summer of 2012, he was part of a group that went to El Salvador and volunteered at an orphanage, spending time with the children and helping to teach about the importance of sanitation and basic health concerns at a nearby medical clinic. The following summer, he traveled to Nicaragua, helping construct homes, bathroom facilities and retaining walls.
He was recruited to play college hockey at Penn State — a school with a rich history as an American Collegiate Hockey Association program — but one that was beginning just its second season of play at the NCAA level and looking to establish an identity for the program. In his four years at the school, he’s helped build the culture of the men’s hockey team through his commitment to his education, his team and helping others.
“We knew he was an excellent student and people spoke very strongly of his character and that he was very involved in his community,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said, reflecting on what he learned about Goodwin during the recruiting process.
We heard he was an excellent person and he served, but I had no idea to this extent.
It didn’t take long for Gadowsky and the Penn State community to find out.
Goodwin quickly endeared himself to the Penn State campus, becoming involved in the Student-Athlete Advisory Board and “Be a Part from the Start” — a school-sponsored program designed to help introduce freshmen to the university. He’s also been very involved in Penn State’s THON, a well-known philanthropic event that raises millions of dollars annually and awareness for pediatric cancer.
In the community, he and his teammates have participated in a reading incentive program at Easterly Parkway Elementary School and have helped out at events like walkathons to benefit cancer, volunteering to hand out water at the annual Mt. Nittany Marathon, assisting with trick-or-treating events at Penn State’s All-Sports Museum and the school’s “Try Hockey for Free” program, among others.
“He doesn’t do them to put down on a resume — he does them because they are good things (for others),” Gadowsky said, after describing Goodwin’s service efforts. “The truly most amazing thing about all this is that it’s not like he’s figured out how to do this one time … it’s how he lives every week … the consistency in his service and his performance on the ice and in the classroom.”
Goodwin is appreciative of the support he and other student-athletes at Penn State receive from the athletics program.
“I think it’s really important to reiterate the support that this university has given me, whether it be academically with the resources they have for the student-athletes or even the support that my coaches have given me in my desires to go on these trips in the summer and maybe miss out on a little bit of training,” Goodwin said.
As a member of Penn State’s hockey team, he’s the first and only 100-point scorer in the program’s history and led the team in scoring during his junior season. His teammates voted him to be the captain for his senior season — an honor that speaks to his leadership qualities on and off the ice.
Goodwin has also maintained a focus on his education throughout college. He’s set to graduate in May with a double-major in Economics and Spanish. His 3.65 grade-point average has helped make him a member of the Academic All-Big 10 Team each year he’s been at Penn State.
This past summer, Goodwin traveled to Cuba to continue his philanthropic efforts in another foreign country.
“I spent just under seven weeks in Cuba, mainly teaching English to Cuban university students and then in the evening time, I would go outside of the city and tutor some younger kids — probably the equivalent of second, third and fourth graders — in reading, in math and some of the basics,” Goodwin explained. “That was a huge trip for me and something that I really hope to continue (after I graduate).”
Goodwin’s college hockey career is drawing to a close and regardless of what his future holds on or off the ice, he plans to continue his service efforts.
“I want to be a great representation of this university and most specifically, the hockey program. It’s something I take a lot of pride in and I’m hoping when I leave in May that I’ve left a legacy of the importance of getting involved and the importance of giving back.”