Mark Burish may have had his doubt about being a hockey parent, but much to the benefit of University of Wisconsin athletes, he eventually warmed up to the idea.
Years ago, Mark’s wife Helen (who, like her husband, is a UW graduate) called to tell him their neighbor had recommended bringing their two children, Adam and Nikki, to a local ice rink to learn to skate.
To Mark, that signaled the start of a hockey parent’s life he didn’t want to lead. The sport grew on him though, and his two kids went on to be captains of NCAA championship ice hockey squads at UW.
Following their title seasons in 2006, both Burish siblings continued to pursue lofty aspirations.
Adam, 30, went on to play forward in the National Hockey League for the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and, currently, the San Jose Sharks. He was part of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup championship roster.
Nikki, 28, returned to her alma mater and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
In honor of what their children accomplished through hockey, Mark and Helen established the Adam and Nikki Burish Family Scholarship, which will support Badger student athletes for years to come. Seeing the difference UW made in their kids’ lives, and knowing how their support could impact the lives of other student-athletes, made the decision to start the scholarship an easy one.
Madison Packer, the Wisconsin senior hockey player who received the award this year, is certainly appreciative.
“I saw an envelope in my stall at practice one day and it said that I had received the award,” she said. “I have never received a specific scholarship before. It was cool. I’m so honored to have been chosen.”
Packer, an English and creative writing major from Birmingham, Mich., who won an NCAA title at UW as a freshman, hasn’t had the chance to meet Mark and Helen yet; she sent them a thank you note after getting the scholarship. She has had the opportunity to spend time with Adam, though.
“Adam comes back to Wisconsin in the summer so I’ve been around him a bit,” Packer said. “It’s cool to get an award from a family that has had such an impact on the UW community. A lot of us are here on scholarships, but it’s nice to be acknowledged with a specific one. I’m very grateful to them.”
The Burish family hopes many more students like Packer will be able to benefit from their love of hockey and of everything Wisconsin.