The Premier Lacrosse League returned to Minneapolis this weekend after a two-week break. The PLL has taken up the torch of growing and honoring the game beyond the field through its PLL Assists initiative. One of the goals of PLL Assists is to honor the game’s heritage. This weekend in Minneapolis the PLL celebrated its third annual Indigenous Heritage Weekend. Each of the eight teams wore specially designed jerseys, and the players wore orange chin straps to raise awareness of the Every Child Matters initiative.
Since its inception, the PLL has worked through PLL Assists to bring a sense of awareness and activism in addition to helping to grow the game of lacrosse. Paul Rabil, Co-Founder and President of the Premier Lacrosse League, shared why this weekend was so important for the league and the sport. “As the PLL continues to grow, it’s important that we pause to honor and learn from the Indigenous roots of lacrosse – the Baaga’adowe and Ddehoñtjihgwa’és games.” It started with the Thunderbird on each of the eight team’s jerseys.
The Thunderbird: A Symbol of Power and Strength
Each team wore a limited edition Champion jersey designed by Patrick Hunter a 2Spirti, Ojibwe artist. Hunter selected the Thunderbird for its connection to multiple indigenous cultures across North America and because it represents power and strength. The PLL Cannon’s Marcus Holman echoed this sentiment in the postgame press conference. “The game that we all love has given us so much in our lives and the words associated with the Thunderbird were strength and power. Playing with that spirit and honoring the game through how you play. Trying to make your teammates better and respecting your opponent by competing as hard as possible against them.”
Holman lived out those words in leading the Cannons in a 19-12 win over the Atlas. In addition, Holman scored the 300th and 301st goals of his career, placing him 4th all-time goal leader in professional lacrosse. It was also an incredible moment for Cannons’ head coach, Brian Holman, Marcus’ dad who shared he had his dad hat on for the moment. “I’m all dad there. I mean, how could I not be you know, just so proud to be able to share this with him and be on the same field, I’m a blessed, lucky man.”
Every Child Matters
In addition to the custom jerseys, each player wore an orange chin strap to honor Every Child Matters. The orange shirts and chin straps honor and remember the 150,000 Indigenous children attending residential schools in Canada between the late 1800s and the 1990s. There are an estimated 5,000 children that died under residential care. Those who survived and their families still face the trauma of the abuse they experienced at their schools.
Fresh off his bronze medal finish with the Haudenosaunee men’s national team, Jeremy Thompon joined the broadcast on Sunday and spoke of the importance of the weekend for the league and initiatives like Every Child Matters. “As the Creator’s Game has evolved into a World Game, sharing our Indigenous culture and traditions core to the modern game of lacrosse has taken on new importance. I’m honored to join ESPN for their broadcasts and participate in the PLL’s efforts to honor the game and raise awareness for Every Child Matters.”
Sharing The Roots of the Game
PLL Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan and PLL Chrome head coach Tim Soudan shared in their post-game press conferences how much they appreciated the weekend’s festivities and how it made a strong connection to their lacrosse roots. Copelan an upstate New Yorker, shared how he grew up near the Onondaga reservation. “Those are my roots and the box scene up there, so it’s obviously a huge part of the sport and just pay our fair respects appropriately. I think is an awesome thing that the PLL continues to take on and make a priority.”
Soudan shared how he appreciated the league’s taking the time and effort to honor the indigenous people during this weekend and at the activation ceremonies before the start of play each weekend. “The PLL has done an incredible job of making a huge point of the indigenous people and the roots of this game. Before every game, we salute, and today’s was a really special one. I’m just grateful I had some opportunity back when I played some box across in Kahnawake on a Mohawk Reservation outside Montreal. I’m grateful to the PLL for how much they’ve invested in telling the real story.”
Jeremey Thompson shared a final quote that captures the weekend festivities’ sentiment. “Where we come from, lacrosse is much more than a sport. It’s a medicine to the individual and the people, and as we all move into the future with joyful and passionate thought the game will continue to bring peace to the world.”