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Blazing Trails

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Jack Connolly: Leading By Example

Few people are willing to blaze a trail for others. Jack Connolly’s legendary hockey career was distinguished by numerous honors, including the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He upheld UMD’s tradition of excellence both in his academic achievements and his volunteer work in the community. Those who can, lead by example.

Jack Connolly with Hobey Baker Award

Alumnus Jack Connolly received the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award which honored his strength of character and integrity both on and off the ice, as well as his outstanding skills in all phases of hockey.  

Jack Connolly’s legendary UMD hockey career was distinguished by incredible stats and stellar honors. In 2011, he helped the Bulldogs win their first NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship. The following year, he received numerous awards, including Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, the WCHA Player of the Year, and the College Hockey Player of the Year Award.

But Connolly (’12) strived to be more than just a hockey player at UMD. This scholar-athlete worked hard to set the tone and give back to the community. It is little wonder that he was honored with the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which recognizes not only outstanding skills in all phases of hockey, but also strength of character and integrity both on and off the ice.

Connolly was looked to as a leader at UMD. “I thank everyone associated with the Bulldog hockey program, especially my coaching staff, for giving me that opportunity.” He took the role seriously. “I feel that leadership is about leading by example, where others will look at what you have done and try to follow in your footsteps. I tried to set good examples both in the classroom and on the ice for people to try and emulate if they wanted to,” he said.

The Duluth native volunteered with local organizations such as Boys and Girls Club of Duluth, the Northern Lights Foundation, and various cancer fundraisers. He also made countless appearances at local youth hockey team practices. “I wanted to be involved in the community as much as possible, not only because it set a good example for other student-athletes, but I believe it backed the incredible reputation and tradition that UMD has and what the University stands for.”

He credits the Rasmussen Scholarship with helping him graduate in four years “The Rasmussen Scholarship provided me with the opportunity to receive an education and play the sport I love without having to take out student loans and finish my college career in quite a bit of debt.”

The Rasmussen Scholarship also enabled him to focus his energies. “I had the mindset that since I was receiving a scholarship towards my education, I wanted to try and take full advantage of it and take classes towards my major and minor.” He maintained a 3.3 cumulative grade point average and graduated with a major in communication and a minor in business administration. He currently plays for Forested BK in the Swedish hockey league.

Connolly believes that UMD was the right fit for him, both academically and athletically. “It was a wonderful opportunity for me to get a great education while being able to play hockey at the highest collegiate level in front of my family and friends. Looking back at my time at UMD, I enjoyed every minute of it, and I feel that it allowed me to mature as a person while being able to have fun with my fellow classmates and teammates.”

Jack Connolly with NCAA trophy
In 2011, Connolly held the Bulldog's first NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship trophy as his teammates looked on.

Those Who Can, Duluth


Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, December 2012

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