Makenzie Russell, a senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, was awarded the Keith Magnuson Blackhawk Alumni High School Hockey Scholarship Award.
The award will give Makenzie $30,000 over her four years in college. She plans to attend Western Michigan University majoring in aviation flight science. Makenzie was selected based on her academic record, community and volunteer service, extracurricular activities, leadership, character, financial need, coach’s recommendation and a personal essay.
As a winner, Makenzie will be invited to various Blackhawks events, including scholarship luncheons and Scholarship Awards Night at the United Center and the Stan Mikita Golf Outing. She also will have access to the alumni suite at the United Center and attend Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association meetings.
Makenzie also received the WMU Medallion Scholarship given to outstanding freshmen. She will receive $16,000 per year toward tuition, and her room costs will be covered.
When she was 3, Makenzie started figure skating lessons at the H-F Ice Arena. Several years later, she recalled seeing a hockey practice and told her mom she wanted to switch. “I just fell in love with the sport,” she said.
Makenzie played with the ice arena’s hockey league and then joined the St. Jude Girls Hockey team practicing out of Crestwood.
Makenzie was one of two female players on the H-F Vikings Hockey team for three years. For her senior year, H-F disbanded its team and she and fellow H-F players joined the Cobras made up of high school players from the south and southwest suburbs to continue competing.
She admits it’s sad to be ending her hockey career, but there are few colleges that offer both her major and a women’s hockey team. Her intention is to play pick-up hockey games, as time permits.
At H-F, Makenzie is a member of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honors society, and the National Honor Society. Each organization requires members to give volunteer hours, and Makenzie has tutored math students, coached her younger sister’s hockey team, given time to organizations that encourage young girls to play hockey, volunteered in 2022 to plant trees in Flossmoor and wrapped holiday gifts for Trinity Services.
Her sophomore year was remote learning due to the pandemic. Makenzie said it wasn’t too stressful for her. Going back to school required a bit of motivation because the schedule was different from remote. She will miss H-F because she will be leaving friends, but she is ready for her next step.
She can’t say why she chose aviation science for a major, except that “it’s cool.” Her grandfather may have been an influence. He’s a mechanic for American Airlines and when she was younger he would take her to look at the planes. Makenzie plans to get a pilot’s license when she’s in college.
She is the daughter of Jenifer and Brian Russell of Homewood, and a graduate of Infant Jesus of Prague School.