Kaeden Hawkins played for the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks.

GLEN CARBON - Most students enjoy their summer vacation swimming and enjoying the sunny weather.

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For Columbus Elementary fifth-grade student Kaeden Hawkins, his vacation was spent hitting the ice with the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks hockey team.

In the spring of 2014, Kaeden began the lengthy healing process after having a lacerated spleen. By December of the same year, Kaeden was back on the ice and was one of over 200 invite-only applications who tried out for the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks team.

Kaeden was welcomed to the United Center, the home of the Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks to show his stuff in the second round of tryouts.

Two weeks after the final try out, Kaeden got the call that he was offered a position on the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks team, which is coached by former NHL player Yanic Perreault.

Kaeden Hawkins and his teammates from the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks. As a Jr. Blackhawk, Kaeden travelled to Chicago during most weekends from March to June. After winning the Chi-Town Shuffle Tournament, the team traveled to the Top Tier Tournament in Toronto Ontario, Canada. Finally, the team headed to the Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament in Edmonton Alberta, Canada at the end of June and first week of July.

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The globe-trotting child had another opportunity presented to him. He was invited to participate in the Bauer World Hockey Tournament and Bratislava, Slovakia in early August. Not only did he have a chance to meet and spend time with other players from countries around Europe, he realized that although the kids had similarities and differences, each player from every country all shared the same respect for the sport as he did.

While in Europe, Kaeden travelled to France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Italy with his parents Rhett and Jennifer and his younger sister. This experience opened his eyes to some of the breathtaking beauty in this world.

Kaeden Hawkins at the Colosseum in Italy. Kaeden was amazed by the Colosseum and the Vatican in Italy and the FC Bayern Soccer Stadium in Munich, Germany.

When Kaeden isn’t globetrotting with the Jr. Blackhawks, he plays for the Affton Americans Squirt Central States team. Between travelling to Chicago, Michigan and Nashville for tournaments, Kaeden is just a regular kid who loves to call Columbus Elementary School his home.

“My favorite thing about my school is that it is the oldest school in Edwardsville, with a playground that allows me to hang out with my friends,” Hawkins said.

While in school, it goes without saying that Kaeden loves his P.E. class and wishes he could have it every day. He enjoys experimenting with science but doesn’t really enjoy writing in language arts.

“My favorite teacher from my school is my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Maddox,” he said. “Not only is he a great teacher, he also serves our country.”

With everything Kaeden has already accomplished, he should have no problem pursuing his dreams of becoming a NHL player. He also hopes to become a general manager of a hockey team. When he isn't playing hockey, Kaeden is playing Tigers select baseball and enjoys the games at third base and behind the plate as catcher. 

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