Soldier Competes to Honor Late Wife
(August 16, 2010)
Army Maj. Kenneth Knight competes in the Scottish
games wearing his family's traditional kilt. Knight competes in honor of his
late wife, who took pride in her Scottish roots.
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind., Aug. 13, 2010 – The
installation support unit safety officer here is competing in this year's
Scottish Highland Games 2010 Masters World Championships in Colorado's Rocky
Mountains to honor the memory of his wife, who died in October.
“It gives me a way to keep my wife's heritage alive,” Army Maj. Kenneth Knight
said. “It's a way to stay close to her.”
While earning his Bachelor of Science degree in history from the College of the
Cumberlands in Kentucky, Knight met his wife in the late 1980s. The college
sweethearts were married in 1991.
Knight's wife began researching her genealogy and found she had Scottish blood
on both sides of her family as well as certain levels of Bruce family royalty.
This sparked their interest, the major said, and they began researching Scottish
games, rules and guidelines.
The games started sometime around the 15th century, when Scotland was conquered
by Great Britain. The Scots weren't allowed to practice with weapons due to fear
of revolt, so they used everyday items such as rocks, hammers, stakes and logs
in competition to see who was the strongest and fastest and who would take the
role of protecting clan chiefs. In modern times, the feats have become
sport, with participants across the world competing.
Knight and his wife traveled together, learning and participating in different
Scottish sporting events. They developed their own unique family kilt. He even
constructed his own homemade equipment using chains, weights and rocks.|
Common events in the competitions include the “hammer throw,” “weight throw” and
the “sheath throw,” which essentially is a 20-pound bundle of straw tossed for
distance with a pitchfork.
“It's a very inexpensive sport in a sense,” Knight said, noting that the
traditional sport stays true to its roots, created with whatever the Scottish
people had on hand.
Knight said he practiced his throws in his backyard regularly until something
happened that put an end to that. “I put a hole in the side of the house,” he
recalled, laughing. “After that, the wife was like, ‘You're done!' Now I go out
to a field at my kid's elementary school and throw out there.”
Knight shared his commitment to the sport with his wife, who filmed his
practices. They would spend hours together studying video of Knight throwing,
analyzing his form and contrasting it with video of professionals.
“It was a team partnership, said Knight. “She would always go to all of the
competitions with me. It was a family affair. She got a chance to talk to the
other wives, make new friends and have a good time learning the Scottish
culture. We took the kids, and they loved it also.”
He and his wife stayed at it.
“My first year was spent really getting introduced to the sport and learning
techniques from other competitors and some of the pros,” he said. He's proven to
be somewhat of a natural, placing 12th worldwide in his division. He has created
a stir in the Scottish games world and was invited to this year's championships.
“My first games were a lot of fun,” Knight said. “I had to compete against a
couple of world champions at my first one. I beat them at the first event, which
caught their eye. They were like, ‘Who's this guy?' I ended up in fifth place
out of 10 guys in that competition. They started showing me some techniques.”
Knight competed in eight more games that season. His wife became ill and died
Oct. 11, three days before his birthday. This year, Knight plans on improving
his skill and competing in her memory.
Between his Army duties here and raising his four children on his own, Knight
studies and travels to compete in his sport several times a year. He even has
his children and his brother-in-law involved, practicing with him.
“It's a gentlemen's and a family sport,” Knight said, noting that people 16
through 70 are welcome to participate.
Knight said he plans to keep up with the sport until he is an old man and can't
throw any more. Meanwhile, he said, he'll compete to keep his wife's memory
“This year is her memorial season,” he said. “I'm just going to continue
Article and photo by John Crosby
Camp Atterbury Public Affairs
American Forces Press Service
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