History will be made in 2021, when Six Nations lacrosse legend Ross Powless takes his place in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
In what was obviously a proud moment for the Six Nations Community, it was made public on Wednesday, May 27th that Powless was among the elected hall of fame class consisting of six athletes and five builders who will be enshrined into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this class will have to wait until 2021, before the official induction is held.
In what will be a historic making event Ross Powless, who will be inducted into the Builders category, will along with his late son Gaylord Powless, be the first father and son lacrosse duo to be members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and the fourth father and son duo.
“I feel proud,” Richard Powless, who is one of Ross Powless’ sons said. “Proud and happy. He helped get minor lacrosse and hockey in the (Six Nations) community. He won several championships.”
Richard Powless also added about his late father’s nomination, “It was elation. It was happiness and sadness he couldn’t be here.”
Meanwhile Ross Powless, who will be the eighth lacrosse member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, unfortunately passed away in 2003 at the age of 76.
“I think he would have been humbled and proud to represent his community,” Ross Powless’ granddaughter Gaylene Powless said.
As a player, one of Powless greatest moments came during the 1950’s, when in his prime he starred for the Peterborough Timbermen, where he achieved that ultimate goal of winning four straight Mann Cup championships in 1951, ’52, ’53 and ’54. Recognized for his dominant play, in ’53, after that third Mann Cup, Powless took home the Mike Kelley Memorial Trophy as the Mann Cup series MVP.
Considered the father of modern lacrosse, Powless continued to dominate. Making the transition to a player/coach of the Hamilton Lincoln Burners Senior ‘A’ team, Powless from 1956-58 didn’t slow down as he won a league scoring championship along with MVP, best defensive player and coach of the year.
A few years earlier, in 1951 and ’52, Powless added to his impressive resume of accomplishments by winning the Tom Longboat award as most outstanding First Nations athlete in Ontario.
Finishing up his playing career in 1967 with the Hagersville Warriors, Powless experienced the ultimate thrill by playing against his son Gaylord who at the time was with the Oshawa Steelers.
Two years later, in 1969 is when his standout play was really recognized as he took his rightful place into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
“As a resident, it makes me proud that we have such talented people of all aspects in our community, and great to see recognition,” Gaylene Powless said.
Making his mark in the coaching ranks, Powless proved once again that elite players can be great coaches as he coached the Canadian Senior Men’s Lacrosse squad to victory against the U.S.A. during Expo ’67 which of course was held in Montreal.
Achieving success behind the bench, Powless also collected three national titles, including two years after Expo ’67, leading the Rochester Chiefs to a Can-Am Lacrosse League Championship.
Showing leadership and passion for the youth, Powless played a major role in having hockey and lacrosse leagues form in the Six Nations community.
His hall of fame coaching career continued to grow when during the late 1960’s and early 70’s, Powless coached the Brantford Warriors, who were a vastly talented lacrosse squad, which included four of his sons in Gaylord, Gary, Harry and Greg.
“He assembled several good teams. There are some really good lacrosse players here. (In community) I’m just proud,” Ross Powless said.
The high point in coaching the Warriors wasn’t just coaching four of his sons, but also in 1968 winning the Canadian Senior ‘B’ Championship.
Continuing to make his mark on the game, Powless was instrumental in creation of the Iroquois Nations Cup Tournament during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Powless, who coached native and non-native teams to various championships, experienced a huge thrill in 1974, when he created life long memories by coaching and winning a national title with the Ontario First Nations team, which had six of his sons playing on it. This event took place in Nanaimo B.C.
In total, Ross and wife Wilma Powless had 14 children named Gaylord, Gail, Gary, Audrey, Greg, Harry, Arlene, Richard, Victor, Darryl, Karen, Tony, Jeff and Jacqui.
One of Ross Powless’ daughter, Gail Powless Ayres, referred to the news of her father getting inducted as a proud moment for the family.
“I just cried,” Ayres said. “It was something we talked about after Gaylord got inducted. That we needed to do this for dad.”