In memory of Mandi
The Mandi Schwartz Challenge tournament, put on by the University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team, serves as a time for players and coaches to prepare for the regular season. However, it is more about remembering the fantastic player and person that Schwartz was.
“Mandi’s undeniable caring heart and selflessness will never be forgotten,” the Cougars women’s hockey team wrote in a statement. “Not only was Mandi an incredible athlete and hockey player, she was an amazing person and will be remembered for that.”
Schwartz was born on February 3, 1988. Growing up in a hockey family Schwartz did what any kid from a Saskatchewan family with two brothers would do: play hockey. Schwartz’ hockey skill quickly set her apart from other girls in her age group and after attending the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan Schwartz went on to play NCAA division one hockey with the Yale Bulldogs in 2006.
In 2008, during her junior year with the team Schwartz was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Although the cancer seemed to be responding quite well to treatment for a brief period of time, it had returned in April 2010. Schwartz fought a hard battle with the cancer until it eventually took her life on April 3, 2011 at the age of 23.
In honor of Schwartz the Cougars organized a six-team tournament where they would not charge admission but rather ask for donations in memory of Schwartz. Seventy-five per cent of donations made over the weekend went to a bursary in Schwartz name at Notre Dame, the remaining 25 per cent was donated to the Leukemia and Lymphonia Society of Canada.
In game action, the Cougars earned a 3-2 win over the Alberta Pandas on Sept. 23 and a 7-5 victory over the Saskatchewan women’s under-18 team the next day. In the last day of competition, Regina dropped a 1-3 decision to the Balmoral Hall Blazers, an all-girls high-school team from Winnipeg..
Taylor Woods, a player for Balmoral Hall, who also played for Notre Dame, was honored to play at a tournament in memory of Schwartz.
“Mandi really fought hard,” Woods said. “I went to her funeral. She was a great trooper, and to have something to honour her is great. She is a great hockey role model and a great female icon and it is good to recognize her.”