Lacrosse More Than Just a Game in Six Nations
Aug 22, 2014
When you grow up in the Six Nations community, lacrosse isn’t just a game, it’s a way of life.
Lacrosse is one of the few remaining, traditional native sports that is widely practiced on an organized level by Six Nations members.
“I’ve grown up in the arena watching my Dad play, brother play and now my sons,” said Amy Bomberry, mother of forward Brendan Bomberry. “It’s like that for a lot of families with the team. This goes back as far as our ancestors,” she said. “The arena is like a home.”
“My youngest was still in his walker and he had a lacrosse stick in his hand,” said Laurie Powless, mother of Johnny Powless. “It’s just something we give them basically right after they’re born.”
Even though the community of Six Nations is one of the largest Indian bands in Canada, they’re all a very close knit group.
“Everybody is related in one way or another,” said Arrows fan, Nicole Point, whose brother plays for the Rochester Knighthawks.
“Even though a lot of them are distantly related, they all feel like my nephews,” said Powless. “All the mom’s feel like that with all our boys. We’re all a big family.”
To say the Arrows fans are passionate would be an understatement. The support they get from the community is unheard of at the junior level. The Arrows even have their own merchandise set up at the Minto Cup, where they’re selling player t-shirts and hats.
“We don’t even think twice about it,” said Bomberry. “We want to be there to show our support, it’s just what we do.”
No matter where the Arrows play, whether it’s in another city or province, they know they will have plenty of supporters in the stands. This year’s Minto Cup has seen members of the Squamish First Nations make the trip to Langley to cheer on the Arrows.
“We’ve supporting lacrosse teams for years,” said Jenny Seward, member the Squamish First Nations. “Every time Six Nations or any other nation come out here, we drum for them.”
“We’ll start off with three or four, then end up with thirty,” said Seward. “We got a lot of energy when it comes to lacrosse. When some stops drumming, someone else will start and then we’ll all get going again.”
“I just get the chills whenever I hear them,” said Powless. “It’s awesome when they come out and get the crowd going. We’ve all made friends with one another now”, she said.
There’s been numerous success stories to come from Six Nations. One of the more recent ones is Johnny Powless. The 21 year old Arrows captain is also a member of the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks, which have won the last three NLL Championships.
“The support when Johnny signed was wonderful,” said Laurie Powless. “It was nice to see the community proud of Johnny. This is a great place to live and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Another member of the Arrows poised for big things is Brandon Montour. Montour was drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft. The 20 year old will head off to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst later this year.
“Brandon’s paved his own path,” said Bomberry. “He’s had a ton of support. It’s great to see the boys working towards college scholarships,” she said. “Lacrosse isn’t just a part of who we are, it’s become a way to make a living and play at the highest level possible.”
“Being drafted to the NLL or the NHL, it gives the younger kids on the reserve something to strive for,” said Point.
For most of the Arrows, it’s their first experience on a big stage, being in the Minto Cup Final. Back home, however, these players are treated like royalty.
“These boys are all such big role models in the community”, said Point.
“To be idolized, it’s a little surreal for the boys,” said Bomberry. “The schools have a special day where the players come in and sign autographs, take pictures and talk to the kids.”
If the Arrows were to win the Minto Cup, it would the franchise’s third title, and first since 2007.
“To make it this far has been a dream come true for these boys,” said Powless. “They’ve been playing together since they were six or seven years old.”
“I remember being at home when the Arrows brought home the Minto Cup in ’92,” said Bomberry. “The whole community came out and it was like a hero’s welcome when they brought the Minto Cup home,” she said. “It’ll be an amazing experience for the boys and everyone at home.”
For more details, visit http://www.LangleyEventsCentre.com/2014MintoCup
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