I grew up in a neighborhood consisting of an uncle that was 5 years older than me and two cousins one of which was 6 months older and the other was 15 months younger. My youth was spent with the majority of it playing field hockey on approximately 8 acres, which included houses surrounding the border of these parcels of land. We’d spend hours constructing home made goals with old 2’x4’s and chicken wire with a couple of sheets of plywood we would stand up behind the nets. All before we “dropped the puck”.
My uncle had befriended the Mohawk crew who lived about ¼ mile down the road and also consisted of 4 team mates, Chooch, Wade, Matt and Jason. Theyd come over to our “rink” where we’d spend hours playing 3 on 3 with a goalie in each net. Those were some of the highlights of my childhood!
I wouldnt consider us “sheltered” but in reality, we never played lacrosse together. Hell, we didnt even own sticks! I did hear, though, that my older uncle played in high school where I was told he was quite good! Unfortunately, our Native sport wasnt very familiar to us. It wasnt until I moved back home from college to the Seneca Territory when I realized how popular lacrosse had become! I found that the different sectors of the reservation, Pinewoods (where I grew up), Indian Hill, Bucktown and Newtown all had their own lacrosse boxes, similar to hockey rinks, funded by donations.
The Gil Lay Arena, in Irving NY no longer supported hockey but was now geared for our lacrosse youth. When we would have family get togethers, the kids, both boys and girls, would break out their sticks and put together a game! It was a new era that I was becoming quite proud of!
I recall one time as I was visiting “Granny-goats”, standing outside talking to one of my cousins as he was bouncing his lacrosse ball off the nearby shed. He watched as his dad began to cross his path of where he was shooting the ball and bounced the ball off the shed missing his dad’s face by inches. It was all by design! His dad shot him a look as my cousin grabbed the ball with his stick and continued to bounce the ball off the shed. You should have seen the smirk on his face!
Now, it seems a lifetime later, the sons of my youth are taking lacrosse to the next level; the professional level. Boys that I watched throwing the ball around in the backyard and The Gil Lay Arena, are now playing for The National Lacrosse League! From Zeddy Williams(a distant cousin) playing for Colorado Mammoth to LeRoy Halftown(another cousin) to Larson Sundown(I gotta confirm the lineage, but I believe he is also a distant cousin) and Ron John who both currently play for The Riptide!
It was both a privilege and an honor to see them both play in my backyard here on Long Island as they went head to head with the Rochester Knighthawks! I would also be remiss if I didnt mention the rush of pride I felt hearing the fans excitedly cheer as their names were called over the P.A system as they were being introduced. Even though the scoreboard didnt display a favorable outcome at the end of the game, its hard to believe how these young men have made their dreams come true from playing a pick up game in the backyard!
Here are a few highlights of Ron John and Larson Sundown