Iditarod exec Hooley receives Manchester Alumni Honor Award
As Stan Hooley’s path has never been paved with gold. It’s rarely been paved at all – and he finds that far more valuable.
As a kid growing up on a farm in northern Indiana, he was drawn to the outdoors, escaping what he calls “the beaten path” whenever he could. His older brother, John, usually led the way, instilling in Stan a love for the outdoors that grew into a fascination with Alaska in particular – the outdoors of all outdoors.
Little wonder, then, that Hooley eventually found his way to Alaska, where he’s served since 1993 as executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee, which oversees the 1,150-mile route of the iconic Iditarod Sled Dog Race. His fascination with that was fired by pioneering champion Libby Riddles’ victory in 1985. When the Iditarod Trail position opened up eight years later, he packed up and headed north.
Twenty-three years later, he confesses he could occasionally see himself doing something else. But he could never see himself living anywhere else.
“I don’t think I could be satisfied anywhere else,” he likes to say. “I think the best thing for me personally is if I’m gonna experience the wilderness experience, if I’m gonna experience the best fishing on the planet, if I’m gonna experience the beauty of the mountains and spending time in them, I’m literally minutes away from what for most people is a dream vacation or the trip of a lifetime.”
It’s a dream that was nurtured at Manchester University in northeast Indiana, where he followed John, a 1972 graduate. Stan played football and ran track at MU. He stayed on for four years as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator before moving on to a position with the Amateur Athletic Union.
Ultimately, the lure of the outdoors – the lure of Alaska – was too great. And what he has found in the people there is the same sense of community that remains one of his alma mater’s core values.
“People here (in Alaska) in general support each other and do things for each other more readily,” Hooley says. “That’s such a core philosophy of not just Manchester but the Church of the Brethren, to be an active part of the community. For me, making a difference started even before my Manchester years. It was instilled by my family. So I think it’s always been in my DNA.”
He has served his community with organizations including the Matanuska-Susitna Convention & Visitors Bureau, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, Wasilla Sunrise Rotary Club and the Manchester College “M” Association.
For making that difference, and for his continued devotion to Manchester University and the values it represents, the 1980 graduate has received the Alumni Honor Award, the highest recognition the Manchester University Alumni Association can bestow upon an alumnus.
Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,600 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training, a Master of Pharmacogenomics and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy.
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