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NHL announces recipients of annual Thurgood Marshall college fund scholarship for 2016

The scholarship recognizes outstanding youth hockey in partnership with the NHL's Hockey Is For Everyone program.

On Thursday, the NHL named the four recipients of the 2016 NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarship. Akeem Adesiji of the Columbus Ice Hockey Club, Prasanthan Aruchunan from the Hockey Education Reaching Out Society in Canada program, Katherine Baker of Fort Dupont Ice Hockey in Washington, D.C. and Ava Olsen of Philadelphia's Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation were announced as winners of the academic scholarship.

Since 2012, the NHL and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund have been partnering together to award outstanding youth hockey players. The scholarship works hand in hand with the league's Hockey Is For Everyone nonprofit organizations that are "dedicated to providing youth of all backgrounds an opportunity to learn essential life skills, play hockey, and learn its core values of commitment, perseverance, and teamwork." Since its inception in 1998, the program has reached more than 45,000 boys and girls.

The scholarship -- open to any member of the Hockey Is For Everyone program in the United States and Canada -- awards a four-year merit of $6,200 to the students to pay for tuition, room and board, fees and textbooks.

"These outstanding young people are skating toward a bright future," Commissioner Gary Bettman said in an NHL press release. "While our Hockey Is For Everyone programs provide the structure, discipline and life lessons that our sport teaches so well, each of our scholarship winners was committed to proving the path to higher education can be paved with ice. We congratulate them for making the most of the opportunity and for earning an NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarship."

Last year, the NHL awarded the scholarship to three prospective college students: Wyatt Christiansen from Calgary's HEROS program; Cassidy Guthrie from the Columbus Ice Hockey Club; and Austin Verissimo from the Hockey in Newark program.