NEWBURYPORT – Though his playing days are officially over, Jeffrey Reppucci is still making an impact both on and off the ice.
Since concussions derailed his hockey career at Holy Cross, the Newburyport native has successfully transitioned into a new role as student assistant coach for the hockey team.
Though the former Phillips Exeter product has earned praise for his work with the team’s younger defensemen, Reppucci has made a much bigger impact is in the lives of young, disadvantaged youth from around the world, and for his humanitarian efforts he has been nominated as a finalist for two of the nation’s biggest sportsmanship awards.
The humanitarian seed was first planted in Reppucci after his freshman year at Holy Cross, when he spent a summer abroad in Russia. He said the experience was eye opening, and that his adventures outside of Moscow into the countryside gave him a whole new perspective of what things are like in other parts of the world.
“While I was there I got to engage some of these small towns, meet some people, and also notice some of the problems that were going on there,” Reppucci said. “Especially with regard to really high instances of alcoholism, and especially in youth.”
Inspired by his experience and following the university’s motto of “men and women for others,” Reppucci decided he wanted to go back, and ultimately he came up with a project to introduce sports and wellness education programs to rural and underserved communities around the world.
To do so, Reppucci founded the nonprofit organization Students Helping Children Across Borders, and as part of his first project, he designed and implemented a $22,000 community building project centered on fighting alcoholism in children through sports and recreational programming in the small Russian village of Suzdal.
SHCAB has since executed more than $125,000 worth of infrastructure development in the U.S., Russia, Argentina, Haiti and Uganda, and Reppucci has made sure to take care of his own backyard too. Last year, he organized the Working for Worcester event, in which 540 college students from across the city went out and helped build more than $62,000 worth of infrastructure improvements at 12 of the city’s recreational spaces.
“So now we’re in year two, and the goal has been to grow the reach of the project and get more kids involved and do more projects around the city,” Reppucci said. “But now that I’m a senior, it’s also to develop a leadership pipeline and develop organizational practices so that this can sustain and become an annual event for years to come.”
Reppucci’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, he was named a finalist for the prestigious Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, an award given to a collegiate and a professional athlete who have made the greatest positive influence in the lives of others.
Then last week he was also named one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which recognizes college hockey’s finest citizen. Both awards are open to athletes of both genders across all divisions, and the Wooden Cup is open to any collegiate athlete in any sport.
“It’s really encouraging for the organization and for all the students involved to see our work getting noticed at the national level and seeing both of these award foundations really recognize what we’re doing in Worcester and beyond,” Reppucci said. “And it’s awesome, it’s really encouraging for us, it helps us get more excited about building these programs and keep them growing in the future.”
The winner of each award will be announced in the spring, with the Hockey Humanitarian Award presentation coming at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia on April 11, and the Wooden Cup presentation coming at the Atlanta History Center on April 22.