Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Sara-Lynne Knockwood is understandably thrilled she’ll be one of the inductees this year into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.
But Knockwood, a former Taekwondo champion who is from the Sipekne’katik First Nation in the province, believes the impact of her induction will be much more significant.
“First and foremost, I was completely shocked and obviously honoured,” said Knockwood, who was introduced at a news conference on June 5 in Halifax as one of this year’s hall of fame inductees. “But where the real value (is) is for young Indigenous girls.”
Knockwood, who is 37, said seeing her display in the hall of fame will undoubtedly inspire Indigenous women and girls and show them what is possible in their own careers.
The Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame is housed inside the Scotiabank Centre, the largest arena in Halifax. The facility is also home to the Halifax Mooseheads, members of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
This year’s hall of fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 25 at the centre.
Knockwood is one of four athletes that will be inducted this year. Two builders and one team will also be inducted.
She plans to have her parents, as well as her partner Scott Sack and their three children, ages two, five and six, join her for the induction ceremony. Knockwood is hoping to also track down her former Taekwondo coach and have him attend too.
Knockwood is currently working as the director of sport and venue for the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which will be held next month, primarily in Halifax.
About 5,000 athletes are expected to participate in the Games, which will run from July 15 to July 23.
Knockwood is no stranger to the NAIG. She won two gold medals at the 2002 Games held in Winnipeg. And then she captured a gold medal and a silver medal at the 2006 Games staged in Denver.
Knockwood had originally been hired by the Halifax host committee as a NAIG sport manager back in 2019.
The upcoming Games had originally been scheduled to run in the summer of 2020. But the event was postponed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it was still deemed unsafe to host a multi-sport competition in 2021, the Games were postponed once again, indefinitely.
But now with travel and health restrictions lifted, organizers are positive they can put on a safe Games this summer.
Knockwood said helping to organize the NAIG is much different than being a participant in the Games.
“It’s a completely different perspective,” she said. “When you’re a young athlete, you don’t worry about how it came to be.”
But that line of thinking changes once an individual is an organizer.
“You have to worry about everything to create that stress-free week for the athletes,” she said. “You take on that stress so the athletes don’t have to.”
After a couple of postponements of the Games, Knockwood rejoined the NAIG host society in January 2022 in her current role.
During her competitive Taekwondo career, the year 2002 was the most impressive one for Knockwood.
That year she participated in the Pan American championships, the European championship and the world open tournament in Miami. She won a gold medal in the sparring discipline at the Miami event.
Knockwood, however, no longer participates in Taekwondo events.
“I’ve been trying boxing and kickboxing classes as a way to keep in shape,” she said.
The three other athletes that will be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame this year are Joe DiPenta, Suzanne Gerrior and Bill Robinson.
DiPenta, a former pro hockey player, won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Anaheim Ducks. Gerrior was a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer team. And Robinson was a star university football quarterback with the Saint Mary’s Huskies in the 1970s.
The 1993 Acadia Axemen, who captured the national university men’s hockey title, are being inducted via the team category.
The two builders who will be inducted are soccer coach John Kehoe and the late Joel Jacobson, who was a long-time volunteer, promoter and writer of Nova Scotian sports.
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Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.