Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mandi Schwartz remembered fondly by teammates

The members of the Yale women's hockey team had already attempted to find the words to describe their late teammate Mandi Schwartz at the funeral service in her hometown of Wilcox, Saskatachewan earlier this month.

On Wednesday night with Schwartz's No. 17 jersey hanging from a candle fixture inside the Calhoun College dining area, they paid tribute to their friend whose gallant two-year battle with leukemia ended with her death on April 3.

However, neither the service in Canada or the one at Yale were as much about Schwartz's death as it was a tribute to her life.

"You can’t describe in words what Mandi means to our team, it just doesn’t do it justice," Yale senior goalie Jackee Snikeris said. "We just tried to do our best and tried to make it funny and memorable stories about Mandi, also what she meant to us as a person and how she will always affect our lives in the future and inspire us to Mandi’s standards.

"It is important to be a part of Yale, come back to Yale and share her story and our message to the Yale community because they have been so helpful and supportive throughout everything."

Snikeris joined fellow seniors Bray Ketchum, Samantha MacLean and Lili Rudis in telling good natured stories about Schwartz's fierce competitiveness as an athlete but selfless qualities as a person.

It was all part of the grieving process for her teammates and the Yale community.

"It definitely helps," Snikeris said. "Going to the service (in Wilcox) was the most beneficial for us as bad as that sounds, it was a terrible circumstance but I think we will definitely grow from it. It’s a life-changing experience that I don't think anybody can get out of their head any time soon."

Former Yale assistant coach Harry Rosenholtz agreed with Snikeris' take on how the memorial services have helped the team members move forward from a terrible loss.

"They need to heal," Rosenholtz said. "This is a part of the process. The healing process is going to continue for a very long time. This is a major step in helping them heal and work through some of the pain."

Schwartz's spirit will be front and center again on Thursday as Yale holds its third annual bone marrow registry drive named in her honor. The event will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Yale Commons. Those who took part in the past don't need to have their cheeks swabbed again because they are in the registry.

Rosenholtz is taking things a step further. At next week's American Hockey Coaches Association Convention in Naples, Fla., Rosenholtz is going to suggest that every college hockey program start a Mandi Schwartz Bone Marrow Donor Drive.

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