Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards presented Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres with the Key to the City during the team's Championship Parade and Celebration honoring their back-to-back titles on Monday. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
On Monday, the 2013 National Lacrosse League champion Rochester Knighthawks were honored by the City of Rochester and its mayor for once again bringing a championship to the Flower City.
Fans lined Exchange Street outside of The Blue Cross Arena to cheer for the players and staff members, who were escorted to City Hall in a procession of vehicles. The impressive assembly of vehicles included the Watkins Glen and Ohsweken Speedway pace cars, a Knighthawks-themed SUV owned by season ticket holder Jason Childers and Curt Styres’ personal Shelby Mustangs.
“I definitely had to get my dad out here because it means so much to him,” said Michele Hartney, who attended the parade with her daughter, Addie, and her parents, Bill and Pat Dwyer. “My father is a long-time fan. He has had season tickets since the beginning. Last season he was sick, but this year we were able to bring him to a couple of games. He was so excited.”
Following the parade, the crowd gathered on the footsteps of City Hall for a presentation by Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards.
“I get to do presentations all of the time, but I don’t get to do presentations to people who won national championships all of the time,” Richards said. “It’s a pretty big day for Rochester. Twice in a row, that’s really something to be proud of. It’s hard to do; I don’t care what you’re doing. It is impressive.”
“It’s a great day to be here in Rochester with all of the Knighthawks fans,” said Styres, the Owner and General Manager of the Knighthawks. “As a young boy, I used to watch TV and one day dream of being in a parade and going to City Hall to get a gift. It’s a great honor to be part of this. I’d like to thank all of the fine people of Rochester and Tom Richards.”
On behalf of the team, Styres presented the mayor with a personalized Knighthawks jersey.
“From the players, we just wanted to thank Mayor Tom Richards, the city and the fans of Rochester for putting on such a fantastic day,” said Knighthawks Assistant Captain Mike Kirk.
In return, to recognize the Knighthawks for returning the Champion’s Cup to Rochester, Richards rewarded Styres with the Key to the City.
“Let me tell you about this key to the city; I have to admit it doesn’t open anything,” said Richards with a laugh. “However, it does open the hearts to the citizens of Rochester, and that’s what it represents.”
The mayor concluded his speech with some words of encouragement for the Knighthawks, who became the first team in the NLL in a decade to win back-to-back titles.
“What we’re going to do, we’re going to see you right back here next year,” he said.
“It has been a common theme the last two years to be here, so let’s make it three next year,” said Kirk to a loud cheer from the fans.
The Knighthawks held a Championship Celebration at The Blue Cross Arena in the evening following the parade. Kirk, Mike Accursi, Dan and Paul Dawson, Angus Goodleaf, Cody Jamieson, Sid Smith, Craig Point and Joe Walters were on hand to sign autographs for the fans and take pictures with the Champion’s Cup. The players were joined by Styres, Knighthawks President Lewis Staats, Vice President of Player Personnel Jody Gage, Vice President of Lacrosse Paul Gait, Assistant Coach Paul Day, Broadcaster Craig Rybczynski and front office staff.
With an 11-10 win over the Washington Stealth on May 11 at Langley Events Centre in British Columbia, Rochester became the first team to win back-to-back NLL titles in a decade since the Toronto Rock did it in 2002-03. The championship was Rochester’s fourth in the team’s 19-year history.
“The championship was bittersweet in the sense that we did win it but we wanted to make sure we could share it with our fans; we didn’t have the opportunity to do that playing out in Langley,” Dan Dawson said. “This is a way to thank them. They were as much a part of this championship as the players were.”
To check out photos from the Parade and Celebration, visit the Knighthawks Facebook album here.