Mitch McClain delivers both on and off the ice and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
The captain of the Bowling Green hockey team was announced as one of 11 finalists for the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award. The award is presented to college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions, not only to their team, but also to their community through leadership and volunteerism.
He is also his team’s nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, which is presented to the top college hockey player among NCAA Division 1 teams.
But he is also more than just a hockey player.
A mild-to-moderate intervention specialist major at Bowling Green, he carries a 3.515 grade point average entering his final semester.He also made the Dean’s list last season.
He also juggles his academics, hockey and still finds time as a student-teacher at Woodlane School in Bowling Green.
McLain said the nomination means more to him than any other award or recognition he has previously received.
“(Recognition) is not something I think about when I sign up to volunteer,” he said. “For me, I always look at the opportunity to volunteer like this — how much does it mean to the kids each day and how much does it mean to me.”
McLain’s involvement with his special education students and with the Bowling Green hockey program join annually, as he connects the students with the team when he organizes a field trip in which they visit the Slater Family Ice Arena.
In addition to volunteering more than 150 hours at Woodlane, McLain has also worked with the Crim Elementary Reading Tutor Program and its first grade students and has co-ordinated fundraisers and activities including the Rally Cap and Special Olympic Bowling.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping people,” he explained.
“I have always wanted to take what I’ve learned , what I’ve experienced and impact others around me. That’s the biggest reason why I want to teach.”
None of this comes as a surprise to Langley Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson.
“Phenomenal kid, on and off the ice. Just a truly inspiring kid. He is one of those guys who when things are tough, he makes you smile and be happy that you are at the rink,” Henderson said.
“I can’t speak highly enough about his leadership and character.”
McLain came to Langley from Baxter, MN. and spent two seasons with the Rivermen, the 2012/13 and 2013/14 campaigns.
He scored 14 goals and 32 points that first year and another 24 goals and 60 points in season two, also serving as team captain.
From there, he went to Bowling Green and is now a senior and captain for the Falcons.
“Even the degree he is pursuing, that just speaks to the character of the kid,” Henderson said.
“He is one of those guys that really could do anything in the professional world (and) he is focused on special education. Just a pretty neat guy.”
“To me, the students can do amazing things,” McClain said about why he chose to study special education.
“So when I got the chance in high school to work with them in a mentor role, it really hit me that this is what I want to do for a career. I want to help impact children’s lives in a positive way, I want to be that person they remember and hopefully inspire them to pay if forward to others.”
Henderson said that during McClain’s two seasons in Langley, he was heavily involved in Special Olympics floor hockey and in the Rivermen reading program where they went to local elementary schools.
And as for the nod as Bowling Green’s selection for the Hobey Baker Award, Henderson isn’t surprised by that either.
“He is one of those guys who just gets it done,” he said. “He has a knack for scoring big goals and creating momentum with his style of play.
“(Mitch) is a fiercely competitive kid, willing to sacrifice … and he plays the game the right away.”
From the list of 11 nominees for the humanitarian award, the three finalists will be announced in the coming weeks.