Throughout the years, many star lacrosse players from Six Nations have realized that ultimate dream of being an NLL first-round draft choice.
Prominent names such as Cody Jamieson (Rochester Knighthawks, 2010, No 1 overall), Johnny Powless (Rochester Knighthawks, 2011, No 5 overall), Randy Staats (Georgia Swarm, 2015, No 6 overall) and Brendan Bomberry (Georgia Swarm, 2018, No 7 overall) are just a few of the many first round picks who have represented Six Nations well by putting up some solid numbers in the National Lacrosse League.
The latest first round Six Nations product to electrify in the NLL with his immense talent is former Onondaga Community College lacrosse standout Austin Staats who at the 2018 NLL draft, was selected first overall by the expansion San Diego Seals.
Months before the draft, Staats was coming off a magical spring, which saw him dominate by scoring 43 goals, 75 points and leading Onondaga Community College to that ultimate goal of a junior college national championship, and raising his stock even higher as a can’t miss rising star.
Staats, who finished up his dynamic two-year Onondaga Community College playing career with 156 points and two national champions under his felt, officially made history when on Tuesday September 25 2018, he became the expansion San Diego Seals first ever draft choice selection. A short time later, this 6 foot 200-pounder, who was a two-time All-American Attacker in college, officially inked his name on a rookie contract.
“We’re very excited to lock in Austin,” Seals GM and head coach Patrick Merrill said at the time. “Austin has championship pedigree and is a perfect player to start a franchise with and build around.”
Saying that Staats has championship pedigree is not an exaggeration as he has quite the impressive resume. On this resume are several accomplishments including helping the Six Nations Chiefs to a 2016 Mann Cup along with winning three Minto Cup championships in 2014, 2015 and 2017 with the Six Nations Arrows.
Other huge playing highlights include hoisting the Founders Cup with the 2013 Six Nations Rebels and back in 2018 when he lived the thrill of taking home bronze at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships where he earned a spot on the All-World Team.
Wasting no time, Staats made a strong statement in his NLL debut as this generational talent grabbed the spotlight. Proving why he was chosen first overall, Staats scored four goals and added five assists in leading the expansion Seals to their first win in franchise history, which was a 17-12 decision against the Colorado Mammoth.
Riding that momentum, Staats went on to have a historic season as he was named NLL Rookie of the Week on four occasions in a magical first year which saw him finish first among rookies in goals with 32 and total points with 61.
Not surprisingly, a few months after the season Staats made history when he was officially named the 2019 National Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year.
“It’s an absolute dream come true,” Staats said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamt of being a professional lacrosse player. I’m honored to have won this award for my family, my team and for the fans in San Diego.”
Three years previously it was Swarm rookie and older brother Randy Staats who was in the spotlight as he tallied 36 goals and 95 points in winning the 2016 NLL Rookie of the Year.
“We’re incredibly proud of this honor that Austin has received,” Merrill said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach him since he was in junior lacrosse and it’s been fun to watch him develop as a man and a player. On top of being a talented lacrosse player, what sets Austin apart is his competitiveness and his ability to be a good teammate. We’d like to congratulate Austin for being named the NLL Rookie of the Year on behalf on the entire Seals organization.”
No question, this was a proud moment for the Six Nations community, as this was the first time that brothers have won the NLL Rookie of the Year award.
Another notable name from Six Nations who is a past NLL Rookie of the Year recipient is Craig Point who as a rookie in 2008, scored 27 goals and 61 points in winning the award.
Unfortunately for Austin Staats, it wasn’t a storybook ending to his rookie season as he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee which caused him to miss the last few games of the season and playoffs.
The following season, on February 1, 2020, Staats was brought back onto the Active Roster. During a season which was cut short in March due to COVID-19, Staats played in five games where he scored 10 goals and 26 points.
Meanwhile, just embarking on his NLL career is another Six Nations phenom in Marshall Powless who was taken seventh overall in last months 2020 virtual draft by the Saskatchewan Rush.