A few weeks ago, schools let out in Sweden. But before the kids were freed for the summer, a special scholarship was awarded to two special 16-year-old student athletes, Sebastian Mattson and Julia Holmstrom.
According to gd.se, the students received the Nicklas Backstrom scholarship, which they got straight from the Capitals superstar himself. They traveled to Backstrom’s hometown of Valbo to receive the prize.
It’s the fifth time the Caps first-line center has presented the award. Every year, it goes to two promising talents who graduate from the same school Backstrom did eleven years ago. The initiators of the scholarship, gym teachers Stefan Fougman and Tobias NorlÈn, select two students who are good at sports, balanced, humble, and dedicated.
Holmstrom, a promising right wing for the soccer team Hagastroms SK, was honored and humbled by the award.
“Of course it motivates you to make the most of yourself when you look at what a superstar Nicklas has become- even though he’s from a small [town] like this,” Homstrom said. She added, “I’d love to go to college in the US and play soccer over there.”
Mattson, a winger for Brynas’s U16-team that won silver last winter, was awe-struck. Backstrom is his idol.
“It’s huge to win this award,” Mattson said. “My goal is to get as good of a player as I can and I’ll work really hard to try and make it happen.”
For Backstrom, it’s a matter of pride to present the award every year.
“I remember my time here at Sofiedal with joy, and I’m not surprised there’s a lot of good young athletes coming from this school,” he said. “Myself, I practically lived in the hockey rink, on the soccer fields, and in the swimming pools.”
Before leaving, Backstrom noticed a few hesitant young boys and girls who were unsure if they should approach him.
“Come on, guys, just come over here,” Backstrom said. He signed autographs for everyone in attendance.
Despite a disappointing Olympics and missing the playoffs for the first time in the NHL, Backstrom has a lot to celebrate. His first child is approaching her first birthday. And he’s a role model for the next generation in Valbo.
Translation by Magnus Cadelin (@DenTadd) for RMNB.