INDIAN BROOK: Sara-Lynne Knockwood doesn’t like the spotlight, but knowing it may inspire the youth in her community of Indian Brook she put all those fears and worries aside, and tackled the notion head on like she would an opposing rugby player.
When the very humble Knockwood was approached by author Jason Peters to be in his recently launched paperback novel, Aboriginal Sports Heroes: Atlantic Canada, she agreed because she liked the idea. Little did she know her appearance as one of five Mi’kmaq and Maliseet sports athletes discussed in the book, would gain her such a following.
“It’s humbling,” Knockwood said. “When Jason called me to be in the book, I was a bit hesitant. But when Jason told more about it, and he told me who else he was trying to write about, I decided to do it. It’s for the greater good.
“For him to share this with other communities, I hope that it’s inspiring to them so they can reach an achievement in their life whether that’s in school or sports.”
The sports and recreation worker for First Nations youth has embraced the spotlight the DreamCatcher Publishing book has shined on her, her past achievements as a world taekwondo champion, and her community of Indian Brook.
“I think the stories and ideas in the book are great,” said Knockwood. “It’s important to tell those stories for the youth coming up to know about it. For myself, to be in it, I don’t know. It makes me shy.
“It makes me proud, and I think my families proud and that’s the bigger thing behind it. I tried to leave my own feelings out of it and see how my family reacts. They feel honoured. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. For me, I am honoured and I was very surprised by it.”
Aboriginal Sports Heroes includes other notables like Fredericton product Josh Hepditch, who played with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; Canadian football pivot Josh Sacobie, from St. Mary’s First Nation; Allison Brooks a quarterback, also from St. Mary’s First Nation; and Tex Marshall, the chairman of the Aboriginal Sport Circle, Sport Animator from Eskasoni.
“Going through the book, everyone has a different story,” she said. “They’ve gone through the same thing, but in a different way. I think it’s important for any youth— not only First Nations— to be able to read the book and connect with someone’s story, and realize they can achieve whatever they’re trying to achieve.
“I think that’s the importance of the book, is to really connect with it.”
The very personable and bright Knockwood admitted to not being able to come to terms with being in a book about Aboriginal Sports Heroes given her young age.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” she said.
Knockwood’s story participation in the book centers on when she was 16-years-old. She was in the sport of taekwondo and ended up winning the gold medal at the open world taekwondo championship in Dec. 2002. She had only begun the sport three-years earlier, and rose up the ranks of the sport quite fast winning 11 medals from 2001-2002.
She can’t quite pinpoint what made her make the switch to a more physically demanding sport like rugby.
“It turns out I’m attracted to physical sports,” she said. “I played basketball in high school and I played rugby. In general, people say it’s not a physical sport, but when I played it was a physical sport.”
She said she was introduced to the sport in Grade 9, and has always played since then.
“I’ve always liked it,” she said. “The boys started the Enfield RFC, and the girls came along after that. I came home from St. F.X., and have just kept playing.”
Knockwood said the rugby club makes things fun for everyone, and has allowed her to renew acquaintances with people from high school.
“They’re a fun group. I like that they’re involved in the community,” she said. “Even with Indian Brook, they’ve been here a few times to put on rugby clinics, and the community really enjoys it. It’s more than just rugby.”
She believes the book shines a good light on First Nations residents.
“It shows people overcoming things,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that a lot of the media looks at these communities in a negative light. They tell the story, but they don’t know the full story. A lot of the time it’s blown out of proportion, or its’ taken completely different.”
“For something like this, hopefully the book gets a little more attention. I hope this makes people realize, there’s good things happening.”
Knockwood feels her story doesn’t quite fit the title as an Aboriginal Sports Hero.
“I don’t understand why (I’m included), I don’t feel like I fit the title,” she said. “At the time, I was doing what I like. I won a couple things, and one just happened to be a taekwondo world championship.”
Aboriginal Sports Heroes: Atlantic Canada can be purchased online through Amazon.com (search for the book’s name), or through DreamCatcher Publishing by clicking order now at www.dreamcatcherpublishing.ca.