Gage Pope is spearheading a community hockey tournament to commemorate his cousin and keep her legacy alive.
Pope’s cousin, Ashley Schlag, was killed in a car accident in August 2012. Her memory not only lives on in the hearts and minds of family and friends, but also in the form of the Ashley Schlag Memorial Scholarship. The goal is to award an annual bursary to a female student at Glenlawn Collegiate in St. Vital and Springfield Collegiate Institute in Oakbank. Schlag attended both schools.
Schlag and Pope, 17, were born just weeks apart, grew up together and were like brother and sister. And while playing hockey with friends, he came up with the idea of organizing a charity tournament to raise funds and awareness for the scholarship fund.
"It’s what she would have wanted," said Pope, who attends Windsor Park Collegiate, noting his cousin was an avid soccer player, snowboarder and wakeboarder.
"She was a nice person and was always making someone smile. She always wanted the best for everybody."
The First Annual Schlager Cup tournament will be held at Winakwa Community Centre (980 Winakwa Rd.) on Sat., Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pope hopes the eight-team tournament — which will feature a silent auction with prizes, including Winnipeg Jets tickets and gear — will attract the attention and imagination of the community and hopes individuals will turn out to support the cause.
"It means a lot to be able to do this for Ashley and I know she would have liked it. It’s an honour. It would be great if everyone can come out to support a great cause and have some fun," he said, noting the generous support of the community, including prize sponsors and organizers at Winakwa C.C. who have donated the ice time for the tournament.
Pope’s mom, Cathy, is grateful for the support of the community and touched by the efforts of her son and his friends.
"We’re so grateful for this support, you can’t imagine," Cathy said, noting how her son’s teammates surprised him at a recent game in Southdale by following his lead and revealing they now all share name bar SCHLAGER 95, which was sewn in the bottom backs of their jerseys by one of the moms.
"Losing Ashley has left a gaping hole in all our hearts and I think it’s amazing to think that this group of kids is banding together to support their friend as he copes with the loss of his cousin. It just gives you a sense of the type of kids I’m talking about."
To donate to the event or the silent auction, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Schlag, the scholarship and the event, visit www.ashleyscholarship.org.