Ooks Hockey Alumni Association helps shape men’s hockey

Published on January 25, 2024

The Ooks Hockey Alumni Association (OHAA) first established scholarships for NAIT’s student athletes in 2003. Now over 20 years later, with a new 6-year investment of $180,000, the OHAA continues to grow its legacy of support for the NAIT Student Awards program.

“This latest agreement emphasizes the incredibly positive and constructive relationship that we've had with NAIT since the formation of the OHAA,” says Curtis Chmilar (Computer Systems Technology ‘02), OHAA president. “We’ve always worked hand in hand with NAIT to ensure that we are in alignment with the goals of the men’s hockey program and the school as a whole.”

About the scholarship

Each year, up to 30 men’s hockey players are eligible to receive an Ooks Hockey Alumni Scholarship based on their athletic and academic standing.

“The student, first and foremost, is our priority,” says Curtis. “The scholarship program is grounded in encouraging academic success for the student and making room for sport success for the athlete and the team – students first, athletes second.”

“Our full-time student athletes must juggle commitments to their education and to their sport,” says Jordan Richey, NAIT director, Athletics and Recreation Facilities. “They don’t have time to work, so rely more heavily on financial support. Student awards, like the Ooks Hockey Alumni Scholarship, are imperative to their success.

“As former men’s hockey players, the OHAA understands what it means to be a student athlete. They’ve all experienced the balancing act before and want to give back to keep the program successful, recruit talented players and support those players throughout their educational pursuits.”

What recipients say

“I want to thank the OHAA for this scholarship,” says Brandon Lawson. “This money allows me to breathe easy and focus on my trade, Woodworking & Carpentry, as well as my hockey, without any stress of paying for my courses and rent costs. I am truly grateful for this support; it has allowed me to pursue my hockey goals while going to school, and in my financial situation, that wouldn’t be possible without the support of scholarship dollars like what you have provided for me.”

“I have been in the Bachelor of Business Administration program, with an emphasis in Marketing, for the past 3 years and this financial help means the world to me,” says Eric Lacombe. “If it wasn’t for support, like yours, I would have to get a part-time job and it would take away from my academic success and my performance on the ice. This scholarship allows me to focus on the things that are important to me right now and set up my future. I’m truly grateful that you have chosen to support NAIT Hockey and I will continue to do my part to excel in the classroom and on the ice.”

Reaching milestones in philanthrophy

In addition to surpassing 20 years of support and being one of NAIT’s most-involved alumni groups, with this newest agreement, the OHAA will also pass the threshold of over $500,000 in total support for NAIT’s men's hockey program.

“Back in 2003, our first scholarship was given to a single player in the amount of $500 funded by OHAA membership dues,” says Curtis. “Later, in the early 2000s, we secured our casino license and since then we’ve been able to expand that funding to support the entirety of the team.”

“The OHAA supports men’s hockey with more than just scholarships,” adds Jordan. “They fundraise and contribute operational dollars at times when the team is in need. Without the OHAA, we couldn't really operate the men's hockey program as we do today. For that, NAIT is extremely grateful.

Ooks 00-01_Marc Chmilar_Curtis Chmilar_Troy Eberhardt_Tim Donnelly_Allen O'Toole Ooks men's hockey players 2000-2001: Marc Chmilar, Curtis Chmilar, Troy Eberhardt, Tim Donnelly and Alan O'Toole

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and skilled trades. With more than 34,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads help fuel the economic engine of the province. NAIT also contributes to Alberta's prosperity by helping businesses and communities become more competitive through industry-driven research and corporate training. Recognized as one of Alberta's top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, industry partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.

About Ooks Hockey Alumni Association

The Ooks Hockey Alumni Association (OHAA) was founded in 2000 by former players Andrew Hore and David Quaschnick. The OHAA supports the well-being of the current men’s hockey team through fundraising, maintains a database of former players who wish to keep in touch, and hosts social functions such as weekly Saturday skates at NAIT. The OHAA also organizes an annual Alumni Cup event.