Oak Park's Hruby honored with lifetime achievement award by Michigan State

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

You won’t see Paul Hruby riding on a float or marching in Michigan State’s Homecoming parade on Oct. 22, despite the fact that his college alma mater recently honored him with the prestigious Jack Breslin Lifetime Achievement Award.

The longtime fixture at Oak Park's Ridgeland Common — they named the rink after the man in 2007 — will be busy coaching hockey here in Oak Park.

“They wanted me to come up and march in the parade with the Varsity Club, but this is my season,” said Hruby. “I’ll be busy here with hockey.”

Two weeks ago, Hruby received the Breslin Award during a dinner for alumni at Michigan State. The next day he was honored after the first quarter of the football game.  

“It’s truly an honor to be selected,” he said. “There are some great guys that have received the same award."

In 2006, Hruby, who played for the Spartans, was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame. He’s been coaching hockey in the community since 1960.

Hruby is so beloved in the area that Oak Parker Mike Sankowski is currently trying to get the legendary coach his own parking space at Ridgeland Common, a place with limited parking. Sankowski has started a Facebook page for Hruby, who at 76 still takes to the ice for frequent skates.

“I had surgery on a knee a month or so ago, and I need to loosen it up. So, what better way to do that than skate.”

Click here to read a story on Hruby from 2007.

Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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Larry Paveza from New Lenox  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 4:31 PM

Hey Coach. Thinking about you introducing us to organized Hockey back at Drexel School. Glad to see you are still with us. Larry Paveza Drexel School Class of 1961


Posted: October 13th, 2011 6:00 PM

Congrats Paul! Well deserved :)

Donna Peel  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 9:59 PM

Paul Hruby is inspirational. In his 80s he continues to find creative ways to involve all kids (girls! low-income! non-athletes!) in his beloved sport. Loaner hockey equipment. New program ideas. Telling parents to take buy the kid hot chocolate. AND, he continues to play his baritone. Really. Where is his parking space? Michigan State is right to recognize this alum who has contributed so much to his community.

Noah & Jack's Mom from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 12:07 PM

I think of all the kids who first learned to love the ice through Coach Hruby. I remember when my middle son was a tot and would just lie on his back in the rink. I finally asked Coach Hruby if it was worth continuing lessons. His answer: "He'll get up and skate when he's ready." And he did. Thanks Coach!!

Mike Cramer from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 11:25 AM

Congrats, Paul! Coach Hruby taught my sons to skate when they were toddlers, and is responsible for many people taking up ice hockey in their 30s, 40s and 50s. He has been a great positive influence on generations of Oak Park kids and adults, and is an inspiration to those who want to play hockey -- or live life -- with enthusiasm at any age.

Michael Hernbrott from Gurnee  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 10:37 AM

I have known Paul since I first met him at Ridgeland Commons in 1966. It is because of Paul that all these years later I am still involved in the sport as a coach, hockey director and administrator. The goals that I try instill in the children are exactly what Paul instilled in thousands of kids for over half a century. His legacy will go on forever.

Dana BombBird Ginsberg from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 10:17 AM

In the 80s Paul Hruby talked my dad into playing hockey again (after not having played since college). I only wish we could build Paul a better rink...

David Kindler from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 9:35 AM

Coach Hruby's lifetime achievement, while centered on hockey, goes well beyond it. He is also a musician and worked as an educator. His is a lifetime worth honoring. Oak Park is lucky we've gotten the benefit of his tremendous generosity and talent.

Hockey Mom  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 1:25 PM

Way to go Coach Paul! Coach Paul is so dedicated, so great with kids of all ages and just an overall awesome guy. Couldn't be happier for him, he deserves it!

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