"I don't know if I'd be able to go to Penn State without the scholarship because college is expensive," said Lucas, 18. "It's a complete honor to be recognized for your hard work every once in a while because hard work often goes unnoticed."
Flyers chairman Ed Snider founded the Youth Hockey Foundation in 2005 with the objective of lending a helping hand to kids who, without the foundation's efforts, would not have the opportunity to play ice hockey. The foundation's mission is to teach a variety of life lessons such as commitment and positive character to the young participants while stressing the importance of education. The program has grown to more than 3,000 participants.
The NHL has teamed with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to create the scholarship opportunity for participants in the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone initiative, which is the league's official program for youth development.
"We are very proud of what Ricky has been able to accomplish," Snider said in a statement. "When I created the foundation, this was exactly what I had envisioned - helping to produce scholar/athletes who understand the importance of staying in school and accessing post-secondary opportunities. Ricky is a perfect example. I have no doubt that he will succeed at Penn State, and in life."
A native of Feasterville and a senior at Neshaminy High, Lucas said he was first introduced to the foundation in 2009 through word of mouth, after spending time at the Simons Recreation Center in Mount Airy. The foundation had renovated the center and expanded it to a year-round facility.
Although Lucas said he is a huge hockey fan, he never before had the opportunity to get involved as a player and, like many other young adults, would not have had the opportunity to get on the ice without the foundation. Lucas is a goaltender with the foundation's midget 18-and-under travel team in Philadelphia.
Lucas was asked to submit a résumé that included his hockey, work and volunteer experience, to go along with a 500-word essay on society's most important issue before being chosen for the scholarship. Lucas, who is passionate about the education system in America, chose to go above and beyond by writing a 1,000-word essay on the issues with public education in America. Lucas believes the essay was the most impressive part of his application.
"I think that it's a rather large issue," said Lucas, who excels in the classroom with a 3.6 grade-point average. "Our public schools seem to set low standards. You'll see teachers let a student slide by, especially if they're involved in varsity sports . . . I find it to be unreal."
Lucas and his family spent some time in the nation's capital for the formal announcement of his scholarship. They met Pennsylvania's U.S. Reps. Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick, who provided a private tour of both the Senate and House of Representatives.
"I'm really enjoying meeting all the people," Lucas said. "All the people I should be honored to meet, they seem to be honored to meet me. It just feels really special."