Royal Recognition program honoring LAKHSHL academic stars
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The league’s Royal Recognition program honors its student-athletes who maintain a grade-point average of 3.8 or higher, and there are currently 55 players who meet the standard and wear the Royal Recognition sticker on their helmets.
Kings president and 19-year NHL veteran Luc Robitaille said it is important to recognize academic success.
“We’re excited to be able to honor our student-athletes’ academic achievement through the Royal Recognition program,” Robitaille said. “It is a top priority for us to ensure that the players in the L.A. Kings High School Hockey League develop as well-rounded individuals and not just hockey players. The fact that so many of our players have maintained such impressive grade point averages is a source of tremendous pride for me and everyone involved with the league.”
The league recognizes a student of the month every 30 days throughout the season and rewards that player with two tickets to a Kings game.
Dylan Durrell is one of the students recognized by the program. A senior at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch who plays forward for the Wildcats, he has a 3.7 cumulative GPA.
“I think the program is awesome – it’s a great way to motivate students to focus on balancing their education with hockey,” said Durrell, whose career goal is to become a mechanical engineer. “Even if you think you may be going somewhere in sports, having a good academic foundation is important so you have something to fall back on.”
Having posted a 4.0 during the first semester of his senior year at Heritage Christian High School in Los Angeles, Ryan Delichte also wears a Royal Recognition sticker as a member of the East County Outlaws. He has been accepted to Minot State University in North Dakota, and while he hopes to play hockey (and possibly baseball), his main focus will be studying criminology.
“Academics are important to all of us,” Delichte said. “Our world is becoming so advanced, and because of that, getting a great education is even more vital. I love hockey, and if I could play it until the day I die, I would. But I know it’s not realistic to make a career out of it, so there are other things that I need to do to get to where I want to be in life.”
On the Burbank Cougars’ junior varsity team, freshman Chance Thomasy is already making waves in the academic world. He attends St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge and estimates his GPA to be 4.0. He is interested in chemistry and other sciences, as well as history, and hopes to attend a high-level college when that time comes.
“I’d like to play hockey in college, but I’ll definitely put academics first,” Thomasy said. “For a lot of kids in this league, hockey is not going to be their profession, but academics can help them achieve a good job and a good future.”
Derek Armstrong, who played six of his 14 NHL seasons with the Kings and now serves as commissioner of the LAKHSHL, said he and the league’s other leaders realized early on that it was vital to promote academic success.
“High school sports are important for every kid, and education is the most important part of the experience,” Armstrong said. “For kids to get recognized for the academic piece of it as well as being a good athlete, I think that’s really crucial. It’s great for our league.”
— Greg Ball
(Feb. 22, 2019)