ROCHESTER —  The Iroquois Nationals have named Curt Styres the general manager for the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. The Rochester Knighthawks Owner and General Manager will lead the four-time silver medalists into next year’s worlds in Langley, BC.

“It’s a huge honor to be part of the process of putting together a world team,” said Styres. “Just to be part of the history of the team is pretty incredible.”

Over the past two decades, the Mohawk from Six Nations has established himself as one of the top sports executives in North America. He recently completed his eighth season as the Knighthawks’ GM. During his tenure, the Knighthawks have advanced to the playoffs six times, reached the Finals on four occasions and won a league-record three straight championships from 2012-14. In 2011, he was named the winner of the General Manager of the Year and Executive of the Year awards.

This past season, which was his 10th as the franchise’s owner, Styres added a second General Manager of the Year award after retooling the Knighthawks back into a Cup contender. It was a fantastic turnaround over a two-year period for the Knighthawks, who returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. He rebuilt the roster through trades, free agent signings, and the draft.

The success of the Knighthawks strengthened Styres’ bid to become the Iroquois Nationals general manager.

“It’s a great opportunity for our program to have somebody of the caliber of Curt coming on board,” said Ansley Jemison, who is the Executive Director of Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse. “He brings professionalism, knowledge, and understanding of the game. Similar to the Knighthawks, he knows what it takes to build a program. Now, he is taking his talents to the world level and having the opportunity to compete internationally. It’s a new and exciting moment.”

“A lot of people have seen what he’s done with the Knighthawks and where he has taken them in terms of building (a winner),” he added. “It’s great for our communities to see the Knighthawks, a professional organization, and our national organization come together. It’s one of those synergies we like to see, having somebody who’s in the professional ranks coming on board and helping us with our national teams.”

Since Styres bought the Knighthawks on June 19, 2008, Rochester has won 28 year-end league awards and earned 12 All-Pro honors. In 2017-18, Rochester was recognized a team-record 10 times by the NLL. The Knighthawks had three All-Pros and set a franchise record with three All-Rookie Team selections.

In his role as GM with the Knighthawks, Styres has assembled highly-successful coaching and lacrosse operations staffs. His current staff includes Knighthawks Hall of Famers Mike Hasen, Pat O’Toole, and Mike Accursi. They are complemented by lacrosse experts Jason Johnson and Marshall Abrams.

On the lacrosse operations side, Styres has hired skilled professionals who are well-versed in analytics and player development. The seasoned group of veterans includes Knighthawks Hall of Famer Jody Gage, who is the team’s VP of Player Personnel, and head scout Stuart Brown, who is the founder of highly-successful Edge Lacrosse. Former goalie and Six Nations product Kevin Hill is the second-longest tenured member, having first started with the Knighthawks in 2011. Bruce Clark made the move to the professional lacrosse ranks as he accepted the other Western Scouting job with the Knighthawks in 2012. 

Gewas Schindler joined the team in 2016 after serving as a coach, general manager and director for the Iroquois Nationals for five and a half years. Before the 2017-18 campaign, Styres strengthened the department with the signing of Six Nations Arrows GM Jake Henhawk and Six Nations Chiefs General Manager Duane Jacobs.

Styres plans to use the same blueprint to construct his staff for the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. Abrams, who played for the Iroquois at two WILC tournaments, admitted that Styres’ management style will benefit the Nationals.

“First of all, choosing Curt was a good step in the right direction for the Iroquois,” said Abrams. “We are having more of our people in high-level positions in lacrosse; I think that’s going to breed success for our program.

Styres is uniquely qualified for the position of GM of the Iroquois Nationals because he has dedicated his life to not only growing the game at the professional level but the youth level as well. He has spent countless hours coaching and managing teams and scouting talent in Six Nations. Styres also played for the Iroquois during the team’s tour of England in 1984.

“Curt is a good choice for GM because I don’t think anyone has seen more lacrosse over the past eight years than him,” said Iroquois veteran and Knighthawks forward Cody Jamieson. “He is a guy who knows almost every player in the league, knows their stats and knows their tendencies. I don’t think anyone is as prepared as him to take on a tournament like this.”

In 1998, Styres began his career in lacrosse as a scout for the Six Nations Arrows lacrosse team. Six years later, he partnered with the Junior “A” team and opened the 3,000-seat Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA). Styres, who founded Arrow Express Sports (AES), manages and operates the arena, which gives local athletes a place to improve their skills, and it has led to one of the strongest youth programs in Canada.

Arrow Express Sports has also taken the game outside its borders through its support of TeamEights, which provides school communities with an opportunity to participate in lacrosse. The program was developed, implemented and co-founded by Jamieson. Stressing the core values of equity, honor, and respect, students learn fundamental lacrosse skills, tools to live an active lifestyle and the indigenous history behind the game. Through a partnership with Under Armour® Lacrosse, each school receives 30 sticks to ensure that the game remains a part of the school community for years to come.

“We introduce lacrosse to schools and kids who may not have heard or seen the sport,” said Jamieson. “I talk about where the game came from and how I use it to heal because it’s a medicine game.”

Two players who benefitted from the support of Arrow Express Sports and the world-class facility at the ILA are Jamieson and Sid Smith. Both Six Nations products broke into professional lacrosse after being selected first overall in the NLL Entry Draft. The former Arrows’ captains played significant roles in Rochester winning three straight championships. During the run, Jamieson became only the second player in NLL history to win back-to-back Championship Game MVP Awards and was in the running for a third in 2014. That season, he was, however, honored as the regular season most valuable player. Smith has been the steady team captain and was the first to hoist the Cup after the Knighthawks earned titles in 2013 and 2014.

Styres laid the groundwork for the Arrows, who have produced some of the top names in the NLL, like Alex “Kedoh” Hill, Brayden Hill, Cody Jamieson, Doug Jamieson, Craig Point, Johnny Powless, Quinn Powless, Austin Staats, Randy Staats, and Sid Smith. Backed by future NLL stars, Six Nations won the Ontario Championship four straight years (2004-07) and captured the 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2017 Minto Cups (Canadian Junior “A” Lacrosse Championship).

With his extensive background in the National Lacrosse League, Styres has been able to bring the same world-class training and management to all of his teams, from his Bantam Provincial A championship club to his U-19 World Junior Lacrosse Championship men’s gold-medal winning box team. Achieving success as the head coach and GM of the U-19 team was extra special because he captured the 2016 world title at the event hosted at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Six Nations.

“He is the perfect person (for the job),” said Iroquois transition player Jeremy Thompson. “He is a smart guy, obviously, from a business standpoint and what he does on a day-to-day basis. Curt looks at everything from a bird’s-eye view and sees things from different angles. I’m pleased that he was the final choice. What I learned from Curt and have seen with his actions, is that his success rate is pretty high when it comes to the sport of lacrosse and across the board. With Rochester, he has three championships under his belt.”

Thompson also recognized Styres’ investment in his culture. Everyone who knows anything about the Thompson brothers understands their grassroots approach and how they exude traditional values and beliefs. Styres has a similar connection by supporting people like Cayuga sub-chief and faith keeper Leroy “Jock” Hill.

“I just like to acknowledge that,” said Thompson. “Curt has been an important factor and supported my father-in-law, who runs a program for Cayuga language and culture. To us as indigenous people, it is important to revitalize that information and knowledge. It’s important to our livelihood and keeping that fire alive. It’s that fire that burns in our heart and identifies us. What identifies us is our language and culture. A part of that is lacrosse. As a youngster growing up, lacrosse was amongst us and across all of the nations of the Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois Confederacy. Everything is just intertwined. I appreciate that about Curt and, from a grassroots level, what he does to give back to not only the sport but culturally, as well.”

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