Turtle Island Lacrosse about providing mentorship for Indigenous youth

In retrospect, Turtle Island Lacrosse couldn’t have come along at a better time.

Following a frustrating summer which saw Six Nations sports cancelled due to COVID-19, youth finally received some exciting news when in late September, they were given that opportunity to grab their lacrosse stick and head off to the OMSK field.

This was not just an ordinary run of the mill game of lacrosse they were playing, as these aspiring young players through Turtle Island Lacrosse, got to experience the thrill of getting some up-close tips from Six Nations legends such as Cody Jamieson, Tyson Bomberry, Warren Hill along with Brendan Bomberry and Randy Staats to name just a few.

Brendan Bomberry and Staats, who are established stars on the NLL’s Georgia Swarm and the co-founders of Turtle Island Lacrosse made history when on September 26 and 27 at OMSK in Six Nations, they held what was called the Iroquois Nationals Camp. This camp targeted young Indigenous boys and girls lacrosse players from 13-17 years-old. It was a proud moment not only for Bomberry and Staats but also for the Six Nations community who after having no lacrosse being played this summer, could finally feel strong pride with two representatives of their community making a difference with the youth.

Turtle Island Lacrosse will be holding camps not only in Six Nations, but across various indigenous communities as Staats and Bomberry look to answer questions, give lacrosse pointers, offer encouragement/direction and inspire young up and coming players from these various communities to work towards their ultimate dreams.

“I don’t have that connection with the youth, and you want to have that connection and be a mentor,” Staats said about the importance of Turtle Island Lacrosse. “It’s awesome when you correct them on something and then they do it right, and they give you a big smile afterwards.”

A couple of months following the Iroquois National Camp, these aspiring young lacrosse players from Six Nations and places nearby got to once again hit the floor and learn from their lacrosse heroes only this time Turtle Island Lacrosse were holding their clinics at Athlete Farm Training in Brantford.

Every Thursday from November 26 through to December 17, training sessions for the girls age 13-17 were held at Athlete Farm Training, while boys trained for an hour every Tuesday starting on November 24 to December 15th. Being focused on was improving speed, footwork and stickwork through the various drills.

“There were definitely restrictions we had to work with,” Bomberry said in reference to the ongoing pandemic. “We were capped at 15.”

Bomberry, who as a player excelled for Denver University and Syracuse Orange, and was a 2018 NLL first round, seventh overall draft choice of the Georgia Swarm went on to add,

“We hope to show the youth how we train and the different things we do to train. I know both Randy (Staats) and I definitely didn’t know too much about fitness when we were younger. We wanted to do different exercises that focused on speed and agility. We focused on speed and agility. Pretty simple but effective drills that the young could do at home once they experienced it.”

Turtle Island Lacrosse, which has the ultimate goal of promoting the game to different communities, is made up of two athletes in Bomberry and Staats who know a thing or two about what it takes to win. Bomberry’s impressive playing resume includes such highlights as helping the Six Nations Arrows win the 2014 Minto Cup, before doing it again the following year at the ILA against once again the Coquitlam Adanacs with Bomberry winning MVP.  Reflecting on the talent level he has seen during this most recent Turtle Island Lacrosse Brantford clinic, Bomberry couldn’t express enough praise.

“The kids have been awesome,” Bomberry said. They have shown a willingness to learn and want to get better. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know them.”

Bomberry, has also played on the world stage for such squads as the Iroquois Nationals, and currently plays for the Chesapeake Bayhawks (Major League Lacrosse), Six Nations Chiefs (Major Series Lacrosse) and of course the NLL’s Swarm. An objective of Turtle Island Lacrosse is to help the youth get the most out of the game.

“It’s really rewarding knowing that I was once in their position but can now use my experiences to give back and help the youth,” Bomberry said.  Just being around the kids, it’s a lot of fun to see them working hard to accomplish something that we have put forth.”

Meanwhile Staats, who is looked upon as one of the best players in box and field lacrosse, has like Bomberry a burning desire to share his knowledge and experience to the younger indigenous players. Staats has on numerous occasions played for the Iroquois Nationals and along with the Swarm also plays for the Boston Cannons. (MLL) He has also showcased his skills with the Six Nations Chiefs (Major series lacrosse), Six Nations Arrows and Division 1 at Syracuse University. His achievements include winning the NLL, and helping the Chiefs win two Mann Cups to name just a few of his accomplishments.

During what has been a trying time due to the COVID-19, the definite highlight during summer of 2020 has been the emergence of Turtle Island Lacrosse, which continues to build momentum heading into the New Year.

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