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11/25/2012 - 9:14pm

By Travis Larner,— It was the night everyone in the Rochester Knighthawks organization had been patiently waiting for since winning the Champion’s Cup over the Edmonton Rush on Saturday, May 19th.

At the team’s Championship Banquet on Friday, November 23 at the Radisson Riverside Hotel, the Knighthawks’ players, coaches and staff each received their 2012 championship rings. The night was the last for the players to celebrate their 9-6 come-from-behind victory over the Rush as the Knighthawks officially opened the 2013 season with fitness testing and the first day of Training Camp the following afternoon.

Before handing out the rings, Rochester Owner and General Manager Curt Styres talked about the long road he traveled to build his championship team, starting with the Six Nations Arrows. In 2003, Styres began his partnership with the Junior “A” Arrows, a team which at the time featured a young duo of Cody Jamieson and Sid Smith, future first overall draft picks by Rochester. He never could have imagined that the players who he supported in Six Nations would eventually lead him to a National Lacrosse League title.

“It was a journey to get here. We kind of took the scenic route to get here,” said Styres. “We started with the Arrows in 2003. Todd Montour asked if I wanted to get involved in lacrosse. I said, ‘Sure, I’d love to.’ So away we went.”

He continued to explain how he built the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena to give the players the facility they needed to practice and play in, and how Jamieson and Smith’s professional careers began by training in that arena. By supporting the Arrows, Styres gave those players the opportunity to become champions.

“The team that you see in 2012 is the team we started building in 2003. It was almost 10 years before it all came together…We talk about destiny or luck, but how do you explain having the two players put right there in front of you,” said Styres referring to Smith and Jamieson.

All of the players echoed the same sentiment as they received their rings. They were all thankful for everything Styres had done to make Rochester a wonderful place to play, and making them part of a championship team.

“When you are part of this organization, you are part of an extended family, and Curt is really big on family. The connections that my kids made with the players are all about the family that Curt creates. I think that’s the reason that Curt is successful in business and is successful with whatever he puts his mind to, is that he surrounds himself with good people and he makes everybody feel like they’re in his home,” Mike Accursi said when he received his ring.

Styres designed the rings without giving the players knowledge of what the final product would look like. They had to wait until all 26 players had received his box before they could open them to see their personalized ring.

“Like everything Curt does, he goes above and beyond. He definitely exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t have designed it any better,” said Matt Vinc.

“It was very symbolic of our team we had last year. We called ourselves a wolf pack. Having a wolf right front and center on the heart of the ring says it all,” added Jamieson.

Tom Richards, Mayor of the City of Rochester, was also present at the banquet. He proclaimed November 23, 2012 to be Rochester Knighthawks Day.

“On behalf of the City, we are proud of you and appreciate what you’ve done, and wish you the best in the future. Not just because you won, but because you’ve become an important part of the community. You do a lot to things for the community and a lot of people in the community, particularly young people, look up to you. We are proud of you,” said Mayor Richards.

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