Knapiks battle cancer on skates

Aaron and Tania Knapik have done well to battle cancer through their love of hockey. 

The couple recently served as organisers for the third annual Cayman Hockey Fights Cancer youth street hockey tournament. Put on by the Cayman Islands Youth Roller Hockey Club, hundreds of kids stormed the road in front of Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. 

Aaron, originally from Canada, states this year’s tournament raised more than $10,000. 

“We have raised approximately $20,000 for charity in the first two years and hope to raise an additional $10-$12,000 this year,” Aaron said. “This year, the monies raised will be split 50/50 between the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and into the further development of Cayman’s youth roller hockey programme. 

“Thank you to all our sponsors, volunteers and support of the media without which an event like this would not be possible.” 

The last two years of the tournament raised funds for local charities like Cayman Hospice and UNICEF Cayman Kids. In 2012, many of the 160 participants were involved in the youth roller hockey league at Kings Sports Centre. Helping to organise matches on the Cayman International School campus were members of the local hockey fraternity like 
Dave Champoux. 

Aaron states there were nearly as many kids taking part this year. 

“The tournament was a great success! We have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from both the kids and parents – everyone really enjoyed themselves and were happy to help raise money for the Cancer Society. We had almost 150 kids registered in the tournament this year and many more parents, friends and siblings came out to watch and cheer them on.  

“The continued support from the community, including our major sponsors Camana Bay, Ernst and Young and Dart Foundation and our other sponsors which included Mourant Ozannes, Willis Global Insurance, Re/Max and Greenlight RE, is greatly appreciated. Without them, this event would not be possible.  

“Additionally, we have a great group of hockey mums and dads that continually step up to help whenever needed. Countless volunteer hours are required to put on an event such as this and we truly appreciate their support.” 

For 2013, the tournament attracted kids on the local sports scene such as Little League talent Adam McWatt, multi-sport athlete Shawn Lansdell and hockey star Ethan Finlason. The officiating crew saw the likes of Champoux getting assistance from Jagger Hope, 15. 

This year’s tournament saw four-on-four action split up into age divisions covering the six and under, 8U, 10U, 12U and 15U segments with a hockey mum category on offer.  

The parents put on a spirited display, with Tania Knapik showing her skills by teaming up with Fiona McLeod (a Sunset football club player and former hockey starlet) on the winning Mourant Ozannes Chicks with Sticks team. The losing side was Joanne Remillard’s Desperate Housewives. 

Other division winners were first place Cayman Stars and second place Barracudas (6U), Streetastic and Eagles (8U), Mullet Monsters and Mohawks (10U), Tarmac Terrors and Mourant Ozannes Bozo Boys (13U). 

This year’s event tied in with the return of the National Hockey League as the pros recently ended a 119-day lockout. Aaron states many attendees showed their enthusiasm for their favourite clubs. 

“Many of the kids and parents are very excited about the start of the NHL season. We saw logos of the Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning. The more opportunity the kids have to watch the professionals play, the more interest they have in 
the sport.”