“You need to find what you’re passionate about. We’ve been given so much, and with great power comes great responsibility. We need to be intentional about what we’re doing with that platform.”
There’s more to life than hockey for Sidney Peters.
That much was evident when the University of Minnesota standout senior goaltender was named the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award recipient earlier this month. The annual award honors college hockey’s “finest citizen” for leadership in community service.
“A lot of times we focus on talent, but I think this is a special award because it recognizes character in hockey,” Peters said. “Hockey can’t be our whole life. They created an annual award that, to me, symbolizes the total athlete for what they do other than their accomplishments on the ice.”
The award is given to a student-athlete who makes significant contributions to not only his or her team, but also the community-at-large through leadership and volunteerism. Peters, the 23rd winner in the award’s history that dates back to 1996, was nominated alongside finalists Camil Blanchet (Bowdoin College), Courtney Pensavalle (Yale), Luke Rivera (SUNY Fredonia) and Lauren Spring (Ohio State).
“I’m incredibly honored,” Peters said. “The recipients who won in past years have all done remarkable things and I’m so impressed with the quality of people associated with the Hockey Humanitarian Foundation. I’m very honored and thankful to be associated with people like that.”
Peters, a fifth-year senior, finished as a four-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota and two-time NCAA national champion. She backstopped Minnesota to an NCAA Frozen Four berth last season, finishing her career with a 1.93 goals-against average, four shutouts and 602 saves. She appeared in 75 games with a career 49-14-6 record.
Peters’ 49 career wins, 15 shutouts, 1.65 goals-against average and 1,270 saves all rank fifth all-time in Minnesota history, and her .918 save percentage is sixth.
Peters admits her time on the ice was exciting, but her off-ice service proved just as invaluable, if not more.
“For me, service and the opportunity I’ve been given through hockey to connect with people has been what my whole collegiate experience has been about,” Peters said. “I love hockey, and I’m excited about how much I learned and grew, but the stuff I’m going to look back on and be the most proud of, is what I did outside of the rink. That’s what I want my life to be about. I want to serve others and make a difference. The service is what I’m really proud of.”
It all started with the University of Minnesota’s Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community (MAGIC) program, which is a student-athlete development organization.
“The MAGIC program played a huge role, especially in my early years as a student athlete,” Peters said. “They have a website where you can go online and sign up for all different events, and I signed up for all sorts of things. I figured out what I liked and what I didn’t like, and that’s when I started volunteering on my own. It kind of gave me a taste of everything.”
Peters volunteered in high school, but she found her service niche in college. She said the MAGIC program offered an opportunity to get out into the community and meet others.
“MAGIC is such a phenomenal program and made it easy to log hours,” Peters said. “They do most of the work, they set the whole thing up and all you have to do is show up. It definitely kick-started the service mindset that I grew into as a student.”
That included more than 800 volunteer hours with various community outreach volunteer activities. Peters, a certified Emergency Medical Technician, spent a significant time volunteering with the University of Minnesota EMS and the Rush-Copley Emergency Department in Aurora, Illinois, near her hometown of Geneva.
She found her future career through volunteering.
“Medicine is what I fell in love with,” Peters said. “That’s why I decided to become an EMT.”
That led Peters to Haiti during the summer of 2016 with Project Medishare, an organization dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for all Haitians by empowering them to provide and receive access to comprehensive, quality health care.
Peters spent eight days in Haiti, volunteering at the country’s only critical care and trauma hospital, as well as the only newborn and pediatric intensive care unit.
“It was a great learning experience,” Peters said. “It opened my eyes to how much suffering there is in the world. You don’t see a lot of it in day-to-day life as an American. That was a pivotal point in my journey with medicine because it confirmed my love for medicine.”
Peters also served as the head goalie coach for Hockey Ministries International at the organization’s camp in Chicago for two years. She used to attend the camp as a youth.
“That was one of my favorite places to volunteer,” Peters said. “It’s a fantastic organization, and I think they do a great job of teaching kids to not only be great athletes, but great people as well. Plus, selfishly, I loved going to camp and it gave me a chance to be a camper again. I would recommend Hockey Ministries to anyone and when I got older, I knew it was an organization I wanted to give back to.”
Peters admitted Hockey Ministries International was the most fun she had as a volunteer, but the trip to Haiti was the most meaningful.
“I learned a lot and was exposed to things I wouldn’t have been exposed to in America,” Peters said. “The most enjoyable was definitely Hockey Ministries. It was such a blast hanging out with the kids.”
But that barely scratches the surface of all Peters’ volunteer work, which has included such other organizations as Special Olympics Minnesota, The Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities and much more.
“I didn’t get a lot of sleep and I was pretty stressed for a lot of my college career, but it was what I wanted to do,” Peters said. “I felt like it was worth it. When you care about the people you’re working with and you like what you do, it makes it easy to give up a little sleep.”
Peters graduated with a degree in kinesiology and a minor in biology. The same day she won the Hockey Humanitarian Award, Peters was accepted into medical school at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., where she will eventually serve as a physician in the Air Force.
Peters was also given a $2,500 check, which will be donated to Project Medishare.
More importantly, Peters encouraged other student-athletes to get involved in service and volunteer opportunities.
“As athletes, we’re given a big platform and a lot of people are interested in what we have to say,” Peters said. “You need to find what you’re passionate about. We’ve been given so much, and with great power comes great responsibility. We need to be intentional about what we’re doing with that platform.”