Merit Contractors Association Announces Budz and Sandstrom as Recipients of Inaugural AJHL Scholarships

The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), in partnership with Merit Contractors Association (Merit), have selected Drumheller Dragons Captain Derrick Budz and Whitecourt Wolverines Captain Adam Sandstrom as the inaugural recipients of the Merit AJHL Scholarship.

The newly created scholarship will be awarded annually to one recipient from both the Viterra AJHL North Division and Viterra AJHL South Division.  Eligible applicants must be currently playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and prepared to attend a post-secondary institution during the year of application.  The winners each receive a $2,000 scholarship.   

?Merit Contractors Association is very pleased to provide scholarships to these two fine young men of the AJHL,? said Malcolm D. Kirkland, President/Chief Executive Officer for Merit. ?The AJHL does more in the development of these young men than simply providing them with an opportunity to play hockey advanced level. Upon review of their biographies you will notice the active, positive involvement in communities in Alberta. This is a huge factor in our selection criteria.?

?Although both recipients experienced an unexpected and unfortunate end to their AJHL careers due to COVID-19, we know they will achieve great things with their post-secondary opportunities,? said AJHL Commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk.  ?The dedication Derrick and Adam have made to their athletics, academics and community is worthy of recognition and deserving of the Merit scholarship.?

Forward Derrick Budz (Yorkton, SK) can be described as the ultimate leader.  ?Derrick is a player that leads by example on and off the ice, taking on responsibilities that extend far beyond the hockey rink,? says Drumheller Dragons GM & Head Coach Kevin Hasselberg.  ?His dedication and commitment are second to none.?

?Derrick volunteers countless hours in the Drumheller community, working with a variety of organizations, schools, and community services. He was selected Captain of the team in his final year and has embraced the role with dignity, commitment and accountability. He has learned what it takes to be a leader with exceptional communication skills, courage, compassion and a tremendous work ethic. The future generations of students and athletes are fortunate to have someone of Derrick?s character to model over the past three years.?

?As a three-year veteran of the AJHL, I am honoured to play in such an elite league,? says Derrick Budz.  ?I appreciate the growth and life lessons I have learned from my teammates, coaches, the league, billets, and community.  Sometimes life isn’t perfect, but hockey has taught me how to manage and overcome adversities.?

?As Captain this year, it is a new experience but a rewarding one.  Being the ultimate teammate and friend, aside from my passion, is why I play hockey.  The game has taught me more than goals or defensive zone coverage, it has ultimately taught me to be a good person on a daily basis.?

Defenceman Adam Sandstrom (Red Deer, AB) of the Whitecourt Wolverines credits the development of his character and work ethic to his experiences in hockey.  ?In my last two years in the AJHL, I was the Captain of the Whitecourt Wolverines. My team looks to me for guidance and leadership.  I have adapted and learned how to motivate and lead a group of players towards a common goal and help everyone to stay focused on the tasks at hand. Being Captain has assisted me in establishing and building relationships with people of different backgrounds and perspectives.?

?In my immediate future, I will be playing hockey for the NAIT Ooks while I earn a Business Degree and I plan
on pursuing my dream of becoming a lawyer.  I know the skills I have gained through hockey, will benefit me as I move onto the next phase of my life.?

?I believe Adam to be an exemplary student-scholar as well as a person of tremendous character with significant leadership skills,? stated Wolverines General Manager & Head Coach Shawn Martin.  ?Adam has a refreshing style of leadership that is not commonly seen in 20-year-old hockey players these days. His enthusiasm and energy have been matched over the course of the season with a discipline that is truly remarkable for someone his age.  His discipline is a commitment to personal growth. It is this discipline and maturity that allows me to have full confidence in his academic endeavors next Fall.?

?Away from the rink, Adam put his name forward to be our RBC Community Ambassador this season. This position
thrust him into many community spirit initiatives in which he was able to connect with many individuals both young
and old that came from all walks of life.  As a result of this position along with other community involvement initiatives, Adam has volunteered over 70 hours in our community, while also maintaining a part-time job.?