Michael Kaufer knows you think hockey players are cool. He also knows you think they’re not very smart. Kaufer also knows biology, history, and math. In fact, the Paramus High School senior is equally adept in the classroom and on the ice and the New Jersey Devils have taken notice.
The New Jersey Devils’ Alumni Association awarded Kaufer a $’,500 college scholarship at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association luncheon on Sunday, May ‘1, in Edison. The award goes annually to four college-bound New Jersey hockey players who maintain a respectable GPA and devote considerable time to community service.
Kaufer, who will attend the College of New Jersey in the fall, says that while most hockey players try to emulate the Great One, not all skaters strive to get good grades.
"A lot of hockey players are not very good students. I’ve been one of the few who kept up my grades while playing hockey at the same time," said Kaufer, who played four years of varsity hockey at Paramus and also competes in a junior hockey league.
"This award is a payoff for hard work in school, and it shows that you can be a good hockey player and a good student, as well."
To illustrate the importance of hockey’s cerebral element, Kaufer highlighted Devils’ center Scott Gomez, whom Kaufer called "a smart player." He said that smart players are "generally the ones who don’t always put the puck in the net, but get the puck to players in the right places. Without them, the goal scorers wouldn’t score any goals."
Not surprisingly, Kaufer is extremely ambitious in his approach to school. He said his priority in college will be getting into medical school, even if it costs him his hockey career. And he already took the first step in that direction while the College of New Jersey might be a stepping stone towards medicine, it does not field a competitive hockey team.
It is that dedication to personal and professional success that drew the attention of the Devils’ Alumni Association, a group of former Devils’ players who organize fund-raisers as well as charity and community events. In choosing Kaufer, they singled out a player who is trying to enhance the game’s reputation.
Said Kaufer, "Hockey requires thinking and creativity. You have to use your mind to find solutions to problems, and do it quickly."