Posts Tagged ‘lacrosse’

Photo: Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times
Lyle, Miles, and Ty Thompson have ignited a scramble for Native American recruits at lacrosse programs.

Maybe everyone who follows lacrosse knows that Native American players of the game that Indians invented tend to go to Syracuse University for college sports, but I didn’t.

I read the sports section only if there is a human-interest story, and today a NY Times front page article about a family of exceptional lacrosse players drew me in.

Zach Schonbrun writes, “The Albany lacrosse coaches stared at a small projector screen, searching for the black streak of a three-foot-long ponytail swooping toward the goal.

“They were watching Lyle Thompson, an Onondaga Indian from upstate New York, who has become a Wayne Gretzky-like figure in collegiate lacrosse. …

“He is a strong contender for this year’s Tewaaraton Award, lacrosse’s Heisman Trophy, which has never gone to a Native American. If he does not win, it could easily go to his older brother, Miles, who scored 43 goals in 12 games for Albany last season. And if Miles does not win, their cousin and teammate, Ty, has a chance.

“The Thompsons, who grew up on a reservation in upstate New York, are more than exceptional athletes thriving in the sport of their ancestors, a sport that is still endowed with deeply spiritual significance to Native Americans. They are trailblazers who have upended the athletic world and reservation life, and their success has ignited a scramble for Native American recruits at lacrosse programs across the country.” There’s lots more to the story here.

I especially liked this part, “One recent afternoon, Lyle Thompson, 21, took out a rattle made from the shell of a snapping turtle he had caught while golfing with his oldest brother, Jeremy. He uses the rattle to make music, part of the way he stays connected with Indian culture. Learning the Onondaga language is another.

 Art: Smithsonian Archives
What began as stickball, a Native American Indian contest played by tribal warriors for training, recreation and religious reasons, has developed over the years into the interscholastic, professional and international sport of lacrosse. See Federation of International Lacrosse.

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Another great one from the “Only a Game” show on WBUR radio.

Bill Littlefield describes a tournament between young lacrosse players in Harlem and middle schoolers from the Boston suburbs: “There are many stories that have built up over the years of kids being asked questions in Harlem as they carry the lacrosse stick on the subway, including, ‘What is that thing? A fishing pole? ’”

“Charles Gildehaus, a board member of an organization called Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership, is one of the people responsible for children in Harlem mystifying their friends on the subway.

“Gildehaus, who is also president of the youth lacrosse organization in Concord, Mass., where he and his family live, spoke with me on a recent Sunday afternoon on the lacrosse field at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. There 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys from Concord and some of Boston’s other western suburbs had formed teams with players from Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Academy.

“ ‘Concord’ may have mythical implications [to the Harlem kids] now, but according to Gildehaus’s wife, Pamela, a driving force in the event they call ‘The One Nation Tournament,’ at first the trip just seemed scary.

“’We picked the kids up,’ she remembered. ‘They arrived in Concord in the pitch black, and they got off the bus, and everyone was quiet and shy, and very fearful. And we put them in our car, and this one boy looked out the window at all the trees and said, “Oh, my gosh, are there wolves in these forests?” And then I pulled the car into the garage, and another one said, “You put the car right in the house?” ‘ ”

“During her first experience hosting the boys from New York, Pamela Gildehaus and her husband took in 12 lacrosse players. Ms. Gildehaus became concerned about the only one of the dozen who wasn’t active and loud.

“ ‘This one boy was sitting very quietly in a chair, reading a book. And I said, “Are you okay?” And he said, “I’m just in the middle of a really great book.” And my daughter, who was 11 at the time, said, “Oh, my gosh, I’m reading the same book.” ‘ ” More here.

I love how Littlefield seeks out these offbeat sports stories. He covers pro sports, too, and invites lots of expert commentators on, but for me the delights of his show are in stories like this one, the one about the K9 Fitness Club, and oddball “games” that only he would think qualify for a sports show. Every story has the perfect musical bridge, too, but Littlefield says it’s a guy on the WBUR staff who picks the music.

Try to catch the show. It’s hosted in Boston but picked up in other markets.

Photo: Bill Littlefield/Only A Game
The One Nation Tournament in Concord, Mass., brings middle school lacrosse players from New York and Boston’s suburbs together. 

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