This is Nels’ story and the inspiration for this hockey scholarship foundation.
The Nels Venerus Hockey Scholarship Fund
Each season, the Nels Venerus Hockey Scholarship Fund awards scholarships and grants to Spokane’s youth hockey players.
The Early Life of Nels Venerus
In 1949, Nels Venerus was born in Cordenons, Italy. He immigrated with his family to Cochenour, Ontario, Canada when he was 6 years old. Upon his arrival in Canada, he started playing hockey and fell in love with the game. Nels came from very modest means. It was only because of the financial support provided to him by his community that he was able to develop his skills as a young hockey player and pursue his dream of hockey. Nels never forgot that help and this became a driving force in his life. Starting in childhood, Nels devoted his life not only to the game of hockey but to helping those less fortunate.
Nels’ Professional Career
At age 15, he began his junior hockey career in Flin Flon, Manitoba, with the Flin Flon Bombers. He then played for the Fort Francis Royals for two years followed by a season split between the Winnipeg Jets and the Saskatoon Blades.
He turned pro and played two years for the San Diego Gulls. After playing a season for the Cranbrook Royals, he joined the Spokane Flyers in 1974, and rose to local fame.
He was an integral part of the Flyers, and later, the Spokane Chiefs, winning Allan Cup championships in 1976 and 1980 and retiring as the Chiefs’ team captain in 1985.
Nels Venerus After the Pros
After his professional playing days were over, Nels continued to play hockey for the next 25 years. He stayed connected to the Spokane hockey community as a player with the Spokane Oldtimers Hockey Association, as a founder of the Spokane Grinders Hockey Association, and as a coach in the Spokane Americans Youth Hockey Association. He also gave his time selflessly as a fundraiser and organizer for anything related to hockey. His entire life revolved around the game of hockey and the people associated with the game. His closest friends were “hockey people”. He truly believed that these relationships and the game of hockey were the most rewarding things in his life.
Given his background, it is not surprising that Nels wanted to give back to the local hockey community. He wanted to ensure that any player in Spokane would be able to play, even if there was economic hardship. The Nels Venerus Hockey Scholarship Foundation was born out of the desire to assist others as Nels, himself, had been helped.
Nels’ life ended too early in 2011, but the NVHSF works to keep his vision alive.
Join us in carrying on Nels' legacy to support youth hockey players in the pursuit of their dreams, regardless of their economic circumstances. Your generous gifts directly support all three funds through the Innovia Foundation giving portal.
Over $20,000 Awarded
Nels Venerus Hockey Scholarship Foundation
Providing scholarships and grants to Spokane-area youth hockey players.
NELS VENERUS HOCKEY SCHOLARSHIP FUND
P.O. Box 48073
SPOKANE, WA 99228
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