By Mac Cerullo
---- — PHILADELPHIA — Jeffrey Reppucci, a Newburyport native and a senior on the Holy Cross ice hockey team, has been honored as this year’s recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
Presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen, the Hockey Humanitarian Award is one of college hockey’s most prestigious awards, and athletes of both genders from all divisions are eligible to win. Reppucci was named one of five finalists in February, and yesterday he was presented with the award at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Reppucci was honored for his extensive service work, which has primarily been focused on bringing sports and wellness programs to poor communities around the world. He is the founder and president of the nonprofit Students Helping Children Across Borders, which has designed, raised funds for and executed more than $125,000 worth of infrastructural development projects in five different countries.
He is also the founder and executive director of Working for Worcester, a project that seeks to mobilize local college students to help make similar improvements around the city.
“It’s a great, great recognition for our work and our organization and these projects,” Reppucci said. “I am so excited to get to represent Holy Cross, our team and hockey program. It’s been a crazy journey over these past few years working on these projects. It’s been such a wonderful experience, and this is an award that I share with a lot of wonderful people who have supported me and helped me. So it’s great to get this recognition.”
In terms of using the award to maximize his organization’s exposure, the timing couldn’t be better. Tomorrow, Working for Worcester will be holding its big annual project, which will see 1,200 volunteers from 10 local universities go out and install $100,000 worth of playgrounds, basketball courts, gardens and other improvements across the city.
“Getting this award helps us get the word out and show that people not just in Worcester but outside as well are also really excited about the work we’re doing,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful shot of energy for the whole organization.”
Though he didn’t win last year, Reppucci was honored as a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award last season. He has also been honored as a 2013 Truman Scholar and as a 2013 Rhodes Scholarship finalist.
Outside of his service work, Reppucci serves as a student assistant coach for Holy Cross. He was originally a defenseman, but after concussions ended his playing career last season, Reppucci decided to stay on so he could help coach the team’s younger defensemen.
Going forward, Reppucci said he is excited for the projects he has coming up, including one this August where he and a group of volunteers will travel to Tanzania to build a soccer field for girls in Zanzibar.
As far as the award goes, he said it’s a huge honor to be recognized by the hockey community, especially given how his experience with sports was one of the primary inspirations for his service efforts in the first place.
“Being a hockey player is a huge part of who I am and will always be, and so much of these projects and so many of these great experiences I’ve been blessed with over the years, have been such a natural extension of the hockey community and of the wonderful experience I’ve had as a hockey player,” he said.