Blaine, Minn. (April 10, 2019) – Snow may be in the forecast this week, but that won’t deter the 45 teams playing in the 21st annual Stick-it to Cancer hockey tournament at the National Sports Center this weekend. After all, they are playing for a higher cause – finding a cure for breast cancer.
The annual Stick It to Cancer hockey tournament, set for April 12-14, will draw both youth and adult female teams, as well as Co-Ed teams, to play for a championship, but more importantly, to raise funds to fight breast cancer.
“At most tournaments the goal is to win a championship,” said tournament director Kathy Brodzinski. “And that’s important at Stick-it to Cancer for sure. But our teams never lose sight of the greater purpose -- the mission of fighting breast cancer. I think that makes winning a championship even more meaningful.”
National Sports Center staff members make the presentation of $61,009 at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center after the 2018 tournament.
Over the two decades the tournament has been held, a total of $870,732 has been donated to breast cancer research. For most of those years, the beneficiary has been the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and this year’s donation will go to the same organization. Last year’s donation total was $61,009.
“It’s rewarding to see people come together for a cause,” said Brodzinski. “They’re still playing a competitive sport, but the most important aspect isn’t winning the game, it’s helping people raise money, and also to honor people affected by cancer, both those we have lost and those who are survivors.”
Teams are encouraged to fund raise extra donations on their own, and many teams take up the challenge to win the fund raising race.
Click here to make a donation on the Stick-it to Cancer website:
Another unique aspect to the tournament is that the referees and supporting officials work for free, essentially donating their fees to increase the cancer donation.
“It’s amazing that you have referees who get $50, $60 a game, and they donate that to the cause,” said Brodzinski. “It’s really touching. A lot of people want to do it for the cause, whether it’s for their wives or mothers, or daughters one day.”
Each division at the Stick-it tournament comes with a story. Here is the program page that tells the story of Susan Gietzen, honoree of the Women's C2 division.
Several years ago, tournament organizers started naming the competition divisions after family and friends of players who had passed away from cancer, or successfully battled the disease. Honorees are nominated by participants in the tournament.
Organizers of the tournament announced the names of the cancer victims and survivors who will be honored with their name on a competition division.
Here are the tournament division honorees:
College: Lori Dorff
B1: Merecie Domagala
B2: Marian Burch
B3: Jean Engels
C1: Lisa Skeate
C2: Susan Gietzen
C3: Tudy Fowler
U16: Adyson Hansen
U12: Audrey Friedman
Co-Ed: Pam Bealke
The Stick It to Cancer Tournament also annually honors Jody Anderson, who is unique among the honorees. She was the original inspiration for the creation of the tournament, back in 1999.
Her friend Nan McDonald wrote the following tribute to Jody, that explains how the tournament started.
“Jody passed away in 2000, a Saturday morning before Easter. We started the Stick It to Cancer tournament the year before she died, in 1999, as a fundraiser for her battle. It was to support her family, as her treatment brought her down to Texas, a long way from family in Minnesota.
“She attended (proudly bald and strong) and was so happy to see everyone playing and was surrounded by love and support. Her mom told me she was as happy as she was at her own wedding.
“She fought hard to make it back for the second tournament but passed away about a week before.
“Jody's spirit is alive and living on at Stick It to Cancer. Everyone loved Jody and we continue to play to honor her fun spirit.”
Jody’s son, R.J. Anderson, played hockey for the Gophers from 2005-2009.
USA Olympic gold medalist Hannah Brandt skating during the Celebrity Game at the 2018 Stick-it tournament.
Games will begin at 4:50 pm on Friday, April 12, and will continue Friday evening, all day Saturday, concluding with the crowning of division champions throughout the day on Sunday, April 14. Click here to see all the tournament schedules:
This year’s tournament offers several special events:
Opening Ceremony on Saturday from 12:45 – 1:30 p.m., on rink 4, featuring a parade of teams. Special guests will be Dr. Heather Beckwith, an oncologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Masonic Cancer Center; retired Minnesota Wild player Wes Walz, who has lost his mother-in-law to cancer; and tournament director Kathy Brodzinski.
Celebrity Game on Saturday from 1:45 – 2:45 p.m. on rink 4. Featuring professional players, ex- or current Division I and III college players. Here is the player roster for the celebrity game:
Lauren Barnes, Minnesota Whitecaps
Bethany Brausen, University of Minnesota
Kalli Funk, Minnesota Whitecaps
Meghan Lorence, University of Minnesota
Lisa Martinson, Minnesota Whitecaps
Marley McMillan, Dartmouth College
Amy Menke, Minnesota Whitecaps
Abby Ness, St. Cloud State University
Sami Reber, Harvard University
Becca Sonnek, Augsburg College
Amanda Arbogast, St. Cloud State University
Jonna Curtis, Minnesota Whitecaps
Callie Dahl, St. Cloud State University
Allie Duellman, Bemidji State University
Margo Lund, Minnesota Whitecaps
Sadie Lundquist, Minnesota Whitecaps
Allie Morse, Providence College
Meaghan Pezon, Minnesota Whitecaps
Allie Thunstrom, Minnesota Whitecaps
Angela Zevnik-Girtz, St. Anselm College
Haylea Schmid, Minnesota Whitecaps
Amy Schlagel, Minnesota Whitecaps
Celebrity players will be available for autographs immediately after the Celebrity Game.
Here are some of the other special events on the schedule:
Bake Sale: Saturday, April 13, 8 am-4 pm.
Silent Auction: Open during the tournament. Closes Saturday, April 13 at 8 pm.
Raffle: Saturday, April 13 at 8 pm.