Jan 15, 2017

Savvy Simon main.jpgBy Andrea Chevalier -- As the Rochester Knighthawks celebrated the roots of the game of lacrosse during the Native American Night celebration, the team had one of the most inspirational people in attendance at Connors & Ferris Field at The Blue Cross Arena: “Savvy” Savannah Simon.

Savvy graced the team and fans with her presence during the Jan. 7 game against the New England Black Wolves. As she took to the field, she encouraged everyone to be an eagle, not a seagull because the eagle flies alone and closest to the Creator and the seagull is a follower and travels in a flock. Eagles are brave enough to fly alone and avoid the evils and trouble that come from being a follower.

“She did a good job encouraging young people to be part of their community and speak up, and be proud of their culture,” said Knighthawks season ticket holder Chantal Oke.

The oldest of three children, Savvy said her role model is her 91-year-old grandmother, who taught her to use her talents and gifts. Now a parent herself, she tries to emulate her nurturing ways when tending to her 10-month old son, who she says is her motivation. Savvy wants her son to grow up knowing he can fly high like the eagle and not be subjected to the negativities in life.

This is exactly why Savvy speaks freely about her stance on alcohol and drug use, especially to Native children. She was proud to proclaim her lifestyle to everyone at the game Saturday night and encouraged fans to take a similar stance and stay true to who they are.

“I loved halftime and the motivational speech,” said Knighthawks season ticket holder Tim Knab. “It is something the kids in the audience can look up to, not only Native American kids, but kids that might be having a hard time. (She said) if you believe in yourself you can do anything.”

A native of the Mi`kmaq tribe of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Savvy’s big break was creating the #SpeakMikmaq revolution. Through social media, she made learning Mi`kmaq easy in an effort to keep her traditional language alive. At the Knighthawks game, she got the crowd to learn some words as she started her presentation. Her commitment to her people and her message were very powerful.

“I really appreciated, even as a non-Native person, what she is trying to do,” Knighthawks fan Jason Childers said. “It’s bringing enthusiasm to everybody, finding positivity in life and keeping her language alive. There are so many languages that are dying out, even in Europe there a lot of languages disappearing. I thought she was great. I saw her after the game and she waved at me and thanked me for coming. I had a really good impression of her and wouldn’t mind seeing her in a smaller room.”

The second Savvy stepped onto the turf, she captivated the attention of everyone sitting in the seats at the arena. Her presence and positivity stuck with the fans and team. She did exactly what she set out to do, inspire the team to be the best they could be and win the game.

Savvy and the Knighthawks didn’t know what would transpire next after she spoke to the fans during the halftime break. Rochester, however, who trailed at halftime 5-4, came out firing after Savvy’s speech to outscore New England 11-3 in the second half and cruise to a 15-8 victory.

[32136000316_b1f6435408_o] Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres invited Savvy Simon to come speak to the team and fans because he admired her inspiring words. She was thrilled to accept the invitation and have the opportunity to speak to a professional sports team.

On Friday night, she joined the coaches and players for dinner. Following the meal, she shared her life story and handed out advice and free hugs. She ended the motivational speech by telling the team that she was confident what would transpire Saturday night.

“I believe there are good things coming,” said Savvy. “You worked hard to get here today. You are going to have an awesome game and you are going to win tomorrow.”

The team took Savvy’s words to heart when she spoke to them Friday.

“Savvy shared a great story of perseverance,” said Knighthawks defenseman Dylan Evans. “Her message of the power of positivity was enlightening. After her presentation, I couldn't help but to take a step back and be grateful for all the good things in my life that I might normally take for granted."

Defenseman Joel Matthews especially appreciated her being there with the team. He said he felt like he could relate to her on a personal level considering they both grew up in similar environments.

“Savvy Simon was incredible. I really loved her messages,” he said. “I related to her because I grew up with a mom who battled for everything I have today. I enjoyed her positivity and genuine spirit. I hope we can have her back for another meeting.”

Her stop in Rochester marked the beginning of her tour. In her travels she will speak about her belief that, “Today is a good day to have a good day.” As one of Canadian Living’s top 40 Female Change Makers, Savvy will continue to live her life like an eagle, flying high and independently. Her message touched the thousands of fans and the entire team last weekend and she will continue to touch the lives of everyone she meets and hugs.

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