The Western Hockey League announced today Jake Gricius as the WHL Western Conference Humanitarian of the Year for the 2019-2020 season.
In his overage season with the Winterhawks, and as an Alternate Captain, Jake wanted to take on more responsibility and give back to a community that has supported him for four seasons. He reached out to an organization called Specialty Athletic Training, a group of personal trainers who exclusively train individuals with special needs.
Jake spent time in the summer before the season started connecting with their owner, Ryan Lockard, discussing ways the two organizations could collaborate. He organized a trip to one of their facilities, Stephen’s Place where the team toured the housing unit, met with the clients for autographs and ended the visit with some planned workouts. Jake took initiative and showed leadership through the whole process and helped integrate the players with clients during the visit.
Later that month, Specialty Athletic Training attended a Winterhawks game and hung around for postgame autographs. Jake is in the process of coordinating the group to visit the Winterhawks for an informational lesson on hockey and watch practice. With the huge emphasis on community relations, Jake has created a partnership with Specialty Athletic training that both parties can benefit from.
Aside from taking on his own community project, Jake has made countless visits to William Walker Elementary School, a local Elementary School the Winterhawks have “adopted” for the year. He has spent hours practicing reading, writing and spelling with kindergarten students through fifth grade. Jake visited the Ronald McDonald House Charity to meet the kid captains who are a part of our Hockey Challenge program. He has spent many mornings working with Friends of Trees, the Union Gospel Mission, the Oregon Food Bank, Shop with a Hawk and other local hospitals. And Jake is also part of a mentoring program with Winterhawks Junior Hockey; attending practices, assisting with skills and meeting and skating with kids.
The amount of time, efforts and energy Jake Gricius put back into the community makes him the epitome of what the WHL Humanitarian Award is about.