The ECAC Hockey conference announced today it would rename its female Student-Athlete of the Year award after Mandi Schwartz, the Yale University hockey forward who passed away in 2011 after a bout with leukemia. The award is given to the player who demonstrates leadership qualities on and off the ice while participating in over 50 percent of her team’s games.
In a press release from ECAC, each head coach nominates a student-athlete for the award, and a committee of school adminstrators from throughout the conference are tasked with selecting the recipient. The qualities encompass everything Schwartz stood for while she played and while she attacked the intrusive disease.
In 2008, Mandi Schwartz was sent to see a doctor by teammates after she appeared to be dealing with chronic fatigue. Struggling to keep up with play was not one of the hallmarks of the Yale Bulldog, who had appeared in 73 consecutive games and developed a reputation of tenacity and spirit. It was in that 2008 season that Schwartz was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She would return to her native Canada and Saskatchewan for treatments, and after five rounds of chemotherapy treatment, she was pronounced in remission in the winter of 2010.
But the cancer returned in April of that year before she could return to the Bulldogs for the 2010-2011 season. Mandi received a stem cell treatment in September but was told the cancer returned in December. In April of 2011, she passed away at the age of 23.
As part of her fight, the Yale community banded together as thousands volunteered to become bone marrow donors. They created a “White Out For Mandi” game, where students and fans pack Ingalls Rink in New Haven, all wearing white in support of the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registry and the fight against cancer and leukemia. In addition, the Mandi Schwartz Foundation was created with the mission of supporting young hockey players suffering from cancer. It’s part of a drive from Yale to keep Mandi’s memory and spirit alive. Now, with this announcement, the Elis’ ECAC brothers and sisters have joined together to help them in the fight against leukemia.
For more information on the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, visit www.mandi17.org. Yale is at St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend, but they return home for their Senior Weekend next week, when they host Colgate and the national power Cornell team.