ONONDAGA — The Iroquois Nationals announced the appointment of Rich Kilgour to the head coaching position for the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship (WILC). Kilgour will resume his role with the Nationals for the second time in his career.
“Bringing him back on board lets him finish the job he started back in 2015 when he was selected as the head coach of that team,” said Ansley Jemison, Executive Director of Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse. “He brought a level of professionalism to the team and a level of expectations. I think he did a great job with the tools we gave him to be successful.”
Kilgour, who played for the Iroquois Nationals in 2003, led his nation to a 4-2 record and a silver medal at the 2015 tournament in Onondaga Nation. The Iroquois finished second in pool play and advanced to the WILC Finals against Team Canada.
“I thought we had a good shot last time,” said Kilgour. “I was hoping I would get another shot at it. Thank God they picked me again. I love having another chance to bring that world championship back for the Iroquois Nationals.”
This time around, the Iroquois enter the biggest World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in history, with 21 countries competing for gold in Langley, BC. The 2019 tournament features nine newcomers: Austria, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Slovakia, and Sweden. The Nationals will also face longtime rivals, Canada, England, Australia, and the United States.
“They’re getting better, so we have to keep getting better,” said the Tuscarora Nation product. “There’s an old saying, ‘You can be on the right track, but if you don’t keep moving, sooner or later, the train’s going to get you.’ We are going to keep moving down that track, improve a little bit more than them, and improve a little bit more to catch Canada.”
Kilgour was recently named one of the head coaches for the National Lacrosse League’s Buffalo Bandits. The 49-year-old spent the previous eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Bandits, following an 18-year playing career in Buffalo. He was a mainstay with the Bandits from 1992-2009, serving as captain for 12 seasons and winning four championships. Kilgour was rewarded by being inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
He also excelled at the Junior “A” and Senior “A” levels, capturing one Minto Cup (1990) and four Mann Cups (1993-96). Kilgour has continued to achieve success on the bench, earning three Mann Cups (2013, 2014 and 2016) as the head coach of the Senior “A” Six Nations Chiefs. Cody Jamieson, who coached alongside him in 2015 with the Iroquois, and played for him with the Chiefs, said Kilgour possesses certain qualities that have made him so successful.
“He is a players’ coach,” said Jamieson. “He played at the highest level for almost 20 years and was a leader on all those teams. Rich played at the world level with the Iroquois Nationals. He has done it all with lacrosse. His transition to coaching was just the next step of his leadership. I think he is a good choice (to coach the Iroquois).”
Kilgour now joins Rochester Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres on the Iroquois Nationals staff. Last week, Styres was named the general manager for the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. It’s quite the dynamic duo, as the two seasoned lacrosse executives have combined to win seven National Lacrosse League titles.
“Both of them are professionals and have multiple levels of experience,” said Jemison. “I am excited to see the two of them work together. I think they are a great match. I am looking forward to seeing who they put together for the rest of their coaching staff.”
The Iroquois are building a staff and a team that can challenge for that elusive gold medal. In their quest to dethrone the four-time defending champion Canadians, the Nationals are confident that Kilgour is the right coach for the job.
“He brings a championship presence with him. He has been to a lot of places and has been very successful,” said Styres. “His success as a player speaks for itself. The success he has had as a coach is because of all the work that he puts into it. He is always talking to people and trying to take that next step.”