As collectors studied the 2013-14 NHL Upper Deck Series One checklist they saw the name of a hockey player that never played one game in the NHL. Upper Deck staff had been working closely with the family of Mandi Schwartz and the Yale Athletic Department to create a unique collectible as a way of honoring the late Yale womens’ hockey star while also creating awareness for her charitable organization the Mandi Schwartz Foundation (www.mandi17.org).
“Mandi’s name kept coming up as we talked internally about finding an inspirational hockey athlete to honor with a trading card,” said Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s sports marketing manager. “Mandi Schwartz is certainly not the prototypical hockey player that appears on Upper Deck’s hockey cards, but that’s what makes her inclusion in a mainstream set like this so great because she is so different. As we found out more and more about Mandi’s story, everyone in the building began to draw inspiration from her and we became very excited about this project. A player like Mandi deserves a trading card and the one we created is very special.”
Mandi’s parents donated the blue Yale jersey to Upper Deck. The company intentionally short printed the game-worn jersey cards available in packs but is making the lion’s share of them available to be sold through The Mandi Schwartz Foundation.
“It certainly means the world to us that Mandi’s legacy will be carried on by Upper Deck creating this special card,” said Carol Schwartz, Mandi’s mother. “Mandi has always been a tremendous example of commitment and dedication for student athletes, especially for those who play hockey. I can think of no more fitting tribute to her than that of sharing her passion for hockey and life with her very own Upper Deck card. It is our hope the card will inspire people from all walks of life to learn about her story – the story of a good hearted, generous and hardworking girl from Saskatchewan who remained incredibly positive throughout her battle with cancer (acute myeloid leukemia). She inspired her own little army of all that knew her to help raise awareness of the world need for marrow donors, cord blood donors and blood donations.”
“Mandi was a hockey player and a motivational teammate, but more than that, she was an exceptional person,” said Aleca Hughes, former teammate and co-founder of the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. “Her character was fundamentally kind and compassionate, and for that reason, Mandi’s story has transcended beyond the hockey community and those who had the pleasure of knowing her. Mandi’s legacy continues to inspire humanity and we hope her Upper Deck card will remind athletes and sports fans the responsibility we all have to give back.”
Schwartz was initially diagnosed with cancer in December 2008, during her junior year at Yale. After treatment put her in remission, she returned to school in January of 2010 and was planning to play hockey again, but relapsed. She passed away at home in Saskatchewan in April of 2011 at the age of 23.
“Mandi Schwartz has remained an important part of the Yale family and the source of continued inspiration for the Yale Bulldogs women’s hockey team,” said Sam Rubin, Assistant Director of Yale Sports Publicity. “Each year Yale runs a Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive in the spring to add potential donors to the Be The Match Registry. Yale continues to host an annual ‘White Out’ game where we encourage fans wearing white to pack Ingalls Rink to show support for Mandi. It is a fundraiser and this year it will take place on Friday, January 24. Donations to the foundation will be accepted at the door. I’m sure the foundation will also be selling these special cards at the event.”
The Mandi Schwartz Foundation will be releasing details on how fans can purchase these limited-edition collectibles in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Upper Deck encourages everyone to check out the official Mandi Schwartz Foundation website, to follow the Mandi Schwartz Foundation on Twitter and to like the Mandi Schwartz Foundation Facebook page.