An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award was established in 1998 and is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. Other selection criteria include outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.
The award selection process begins in February, when NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey head coaches are asked to nominate players for the award. Players who are nominated by two or more coaches are then placed on an official ballot, which is sent back to the coaches to vote for the top 10 finalists. An independent accounting firm tabulates the ballots.
The three finalists, as well as the recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, are chosen by a 13-member selection committee comprised of NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey head coaches, representatives of the print and broadcast media, at-large members and representatives of USA Hockey, the National Governing Body for the sport of ice hockey in the United States.
Patty Kazmaier represented the spirit, character and on- and off-ice excellence upon which The USA Hockey Foundation national women’s ice hockey award is based. A gifted scholar-athlete, Patty battled a rare blood disease for more than a year before passing away in 1990 at the age of 28. A loving mother and wife, she left behind her husband, Mark J. Sandt and an infant daughter, Serena.
Athletic excellence ran in the Kazmaier family, as her sister, Kathy, played college ice hockey at the University of New Hampshire and her father, Dick Kazmaier, a graduate of Princeton University, won the Heisman Trophy in 1951, beating out Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford.
Patty continued her father’s athletic and academic excellence at Princeton. A four-year varsity ice hockey letter-winner, Patty anchored the Princeton defense and led the Tigers to the Ivy League Championship in three consecutive seasons (1981-82 through 1983-84), while earning multiple league honors.
A truly exceptional individual, Patty Kazmaier’s achievements in life and in sport will serve as an inspiration for all women who play ice hockey now and in the future.