Matt Maldovan doesn’t shy away from the idea that, someday, he could be the head doctor — or at least the on-call orthopedic surgeon — for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“That would be pretty cool,” said the Liberty Union High School senior and winner of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation 2013 High School Hockey Scholarship worth $10,000. Maldovan, 18, is attending Ohio State University this fall and majoring in Biology. He wants to be a doctor — specifically, the son of Dan and Jill Maldovan wants to work in orthopedics. “It would be great helping people. And orthopedics, if I specialize, I could stay close to sports.”
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For Shelby York, winner of the $10,000 CBJ Foundation John H. McConnell scholarship, her dreams are fueled by her work with Special Olympics — the 17-year-old wants to study molecular genetics at OSU this fall, too, and become a genetic counselor specializing in Down Syndrome work.
“Genetic counseling gives me the chance to talk to people and be involved in science,” said the Pickerington Central High School senior and daughter of Stephen and Kristin York.
She said not only has her work with Special Olympics and Down Syndrome children provided her a career path, but it’s proved a life-changing experience.
“Every time I go (and work with the kids), I come out with a smile on my face. Sometimes they aren’t able to dribble the ball all the way down the court or finish a lap on the track, but they always have a smile. It’s definitely inspirational; it’s given me a new outlook on life. I can’t imagine what those families go through; it makes me realize how blessed I am. It makes me go into every situation and give my best, as well as making sure to cheer on other people and help them.”
Character that’s exhibited through hard work, commitment to academic excellence and dedication to community are core requirements in each of the scholarships won by Maldovan and York.
Maldovan is not only the captain of his club hockey team, but he’s also maintained a 4.1 GPA while becoming a state qualifier in cross country and running track and field as its captain. He’s the trumpet section leader of his high school’s marching band and student council president. In addition to taking post-secondary college courses at Ohio University-Lancaster as part of his high school curriculum, he earns money by being a Level 1 USA Hockey Official, refereeing kid’s hockey games.
York not only works with the Special Olympics, but she participates in a program developed by her classmates called the “Butterfly Project,” which helps teenage girls overcome self-esteem and self-image issues. The daughter of a military father, who was deployed in the Middle East, she’s moved around a lot, living in Germany and all over the United States. But once she got settled in Columbus, she made the varsity soccer and track teams, received the sportsmanship award twice for her soccer efforts, then became secretary of the student council and president of the National Honor Society, an academic excellence group. Oh, and she works, too, earning money by putting in hours at the local pizza joint.
“It’s an amazing opportunity that I’ve been chosen to be a representative of this scholarship out of all those amazing applicants,” said York, who won a scholarship that was created in 2008 to honor the life and legacy of the team’s late founder John H. McConnell. The scholarship is meant to, according to the Foundation’s website, “honor Mr. Mac and his deep-rooted belief in the importance of giving back to the community … Mr. Mac was an honorable man who believed in the golden rule, ‘Treat others as you want to be treated.’”
“Your parents can teach you a lot of stuff, but when it comes down to it, it’s up to you how much of an impact you make in this life,” said York. “My parents taught me responsibility and helping others, but when I got into high school, it got to me (seeing all the opportunities) and I wanted to help people.”
Maldovan’s scholarship had a slightly different requirement — the winner must have “excelled in their commitment to hockey,” according to the Foundation’s website. Maldovan has certainly done that with his club team, acting as its captain this year and being part of the team when it won the state club championship in 2011 before participating in the USA Hockey Nationals, where the team made it into the quarterfinals. But hockey has been a part of Maldovan’s life since he was a tiny tot.
“It worked out almost perfectly, I was in kindergarten and that was the CBJ’s first season; I went to the (inaugural) game and started hockey lessons shortly thereafter,” said Maldovan, who admitted his first love was baseball. But once he saw his first hockey game, he was hooked.
And it was his beloved grandma, who passed away a few years ago, who kept his interest going as he grew up.
“I had roller blades. And I used to go over to my grandma’s house and we’d play hockey in the basement using laundry baskets as goals. And we’d use cheap, wood badminton rackets for the sticks. She really didn’t know much about the game, but she would play with me.”
Both Maldovan and York were given the opportunity to attend the Blue Jacket’s season finale, where they were given a tour of the arena and had the chance to meet Matt Calvert.
“That was the icing on the cake,” laughed Maldovan. “It was awesome. A great night. It’s an honor.”
For high school seniors interested in applying for Blue Jackets Foundation scholarships next school year, go to the Foundation’s website at www.bluejacketsfoundation.org for more information.