Air Force’s Dylewski takes home prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award
Air Force senior Chris Dylewski is this year’s recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented by BNY Mellon Wealth Management.
Finalists included Kyle Criscuolo, Harvard; Jamie Murray, Babson; Morgan Richardson, Cornell; and Alison Rolandelli, Brown.
The award recognizes college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team, but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism. Presented since 1996, the award is open to players from Divisions I, II and III.
A goaltender, Dylewski’s achievements in the Cadet Wing and in the Colorado Springs community are unparalleled. From being a Division I athlete double majoring in international history and political science, to founding a nonprofit organization and two cadet clubs, Dylewski’s achievements are more than impressive.
The Colorado Springs native founded RISE, Inc. in 2014, which seeks to develop ethical and inspirational leadership skills in young people who have a passion for serving their community. RISE accomplishes this mission by supporting young people through the process of running their own community service projects, and providing a mentoring, advisory, and support program to build these skills in the young person along the way.
The group places an emphasis on supporting underprivileged youth. One RISE project was a Cadet Wing shoe drive, which collected more than 900 pairs of shoes that were then donated to needy families in Colorado Springs — the project is now an annual effort. In 2015, Dylewski created an Air Force cadet club, Operation Safe, which is committed to raising awareness within the USAFA about important humanitarian issues like sex trafficking.
Dylewski is also the recipient of Spirit of the Springs award, presented by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. He was honored for his leadership in arranging for the Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena to be the practice ice for a Wounded Warrior sled hockey team. Dylewski, along with several other cadets, assisted the sled hockey team with everything from equipment management to sled preparation and repair to coaching on the ice.
As a sophomore, moved by a classmate who committed suicide, he founded a program that produces an annual Guide to Cadet Life for freshman cadets to help them adjust to Academy life. The publication has been produced for three straight years; it is seen as a valuable tool for acclimating to a difficult first year at the Air Force Academy.
Dylewski has taken the lead on several community outreach programs with the hockey team. He worked with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for the Cure and made numerous trips to elementary schools, reading to children and talking about the importance of education. In addition, he has volunteered with the following: Blue Star Mothers of America, Special Olympics programs in several states, elementary schools and nursing homes, the Oklahoma Aquarium and various community centers. Dylewski has also has participated in cleanup projects, including one that targeted the Air Force Academy Memorial Wall, honoring graduates who fall in the line of duty.
“Chris is a vital member of our team who sets the tone in practice, in the weight room and in team meetings,” Falcons head coach Frank Serratore said. “Despite not seeing a lot of ice time on Friday and Saturday, he absolutely makes us a better team with his work ethic Monday through Thursday. Nobody works harder than Chris. He has been a great mentor on a team with so many young players. He is an excellent student at a challenging academic school. He does everything that being a Division 1 athlete entails, while being an excellent leader in the cadet wing and in the community. No one has spare time here at the Air Force Academy, but he finds a way. That’s what makes him so remarkable.”
Militarily, Dylewski has held the highest possible military rank and position in each of the first three cadet years, including a stint as Cadet Wing Command Chief, where he was directly responsible for 3,000 of his fellow officer candidates. This year, Dylewski has taken on the role of Squadron Character Officer, where he oversees all of the community service and character development activities of a 100-person cadet squadron. He is also chief editor of Icarus: United States Air Force Academy Literary Journal and leads a Mellon Grant-funded initiative – the Democratic Dialogue Project – to bring together military cadets and civilian college students for a dialogue on civilian-military relations.
The award was presented to Dylewski at the Tampa Theatre on April 8 as part of a broader celebration of college hockey, which included the presentation of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. In addition to the trophy, Dylewski received a $2,500 check for RISE, Inc. All HHA finalists received a $500 check for their respective charities. These donations from the Foundation are made possible through the generous support of the award’s partners.