Inaugural Jake Kneece Memorial Tournament played in memory of former Aiken resident
Every Nov. 5, on the anniversary of Jake Kneece’s death, his family performs random acts of kindness all over Aiken in his honor.
“My parents are the driving force in keeping his memory alive, and I’m very proud of that,” said Jake’s big sister, Lindsay Kneece, on Sunday afternoon at Whitney Field.
Lindsay was with her mother and father, Pace and Barbara Kneece, at the polo venue for the championship game of the inaugural Jake Kneece Memorial Tournament.
“This is another way we can remember Jake,” said Barbara of why she and her husband decided to sponsor the new competition during the Aiken Polo Club’s spring season. “We also wanted to give back to the horse community that is such a blessing to Aiken.”
The Kneeces invited around 130 friends and relatives to join them under a big white tent to watch the title match and enjoy a catered lunch.
“We have ribs, barbecued chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, green beans and baked beans -- the whole nine yards,” said Barbara of the menu.
The Jake Kneece Memorial is sanctioned by the United States Polo Association.
“We hope to continue doing it for many, many more years to come,” Pace said.
Pace owns Aiken County Farm Supply on Park Avenue. Before he died at the age of 27, Jake worked for his father.
“He had such a bubbly personality,” Pace said. “Everybody loved him. When he walked into a room, you knew it. He was into horses and the SPCA, things like that.”
Added Barbara: “Jake was interested in everything Aiken. He knew a lot of the polo players and a lot of people in the horse community because they would come into the store.”
Pace’s cousin, Tiger Kneece, is a former professional polo player who is the junior polo director for the Aiken Polo Club. Tiger’s wife, Susie, is the Polo Club’s director of sponsorship and advertising.
“Susie and Tiger approached Pace about sponsoring a tournament, and he called me,” Barbara said. “Together, we made the decision to do it. We thought it was a great idea. There was no hesitation on our part.”
Livin The Vision/Aiken Dry Goods defeated El Cedro Azul/Banks Mill in the championship match.
The “Father Knows Best” Round Robin Family Tournament also was held.
The members of the three participating teams were dads and their children. They included Tiger Kneece and his daughter, Summer.