Standing Buffalo field lacrosse team creating educational opportunities for players
STANDING BUFFALO DAKOTA FIRST NATION -- What started with a single team over a decade ago, has now ballooned into full on lacrosse fever on the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation, with the introduction of outdoor field lacrosse.
“A lot of pride, hard work, dedication from our athletes, from our parents, from our coaches, from our families. For our nation,” said Roberta Soo-Oyewaste, the Chief of the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation.
She remembers when the sport was first introduced into the community, just west of Fort Qu’apelle.
“We started off with a novice team,” Soo-Oyewaste said. “10 years later we have a team in every division with box lacrosse.”
However, the players were craving more. So together with Rush transition player Jeff Shattler, the community decided to create a field lacrosse team.
“They have very good hands, they can pass in tight, very good box lacrosse players, but field lacrosse is a whole different game,” said Shattler. “We’re trying to learn about the fundamentals.”
Moving forward the players will work to adapt to the outdoor game.
“The biggest thing I noticed was stamina, it’s a lot of running, it’s a lot more running than box,” said Keanu Noon, who has played box lacrosse for four years.
The Standing Buffalo team is the only First Nation member of a lacrosse league, in this case the Saskatchewan Lacrosse League, in Western Canada. Nearly 40 kids in the community of just 500 participate.
“We want our athletes to excel, we want them to have opportunities,” said Soo-Oyewaste.
Lacrosse isn’t just a sport in these communities, it’s a spiritual endeavour. Known as the Creators Game, the Iroquois invented the sport as early as the 12th century.
Now, Shattler is hoping it can provide educational opportunities.
“Scholarships are the way to go. NCAA, I have a lot of friends who play at Division 1 schools [like] Denver, Yale, Harvard,” said Shattler. “They went to all these schools on a full ride so why not give these kids an opportunity here in Saskatchewan.”
“Field lacrosse offers scholarships all over the United States and Canada. Starting this league, this year will give them those opportunities to excel and become professional lacrosse players,” said Soo-Oyewaste.
The team is unsure when they’ll get to play their first official game, but Shattler plans on bringing them to the U.S. when the opportunity presents itself, so the players can get exposure to scouts, increasing their recruiting prospects.