By Brian Welch
Growing up I would spent summers in Upstate New York visiting family. It was there, where I learned about the game of lacrosse. The fastest growing sport played by over 5 million people, can be attributed back to the Syracuse area and the Iroquois Confederacy. This is where the best lacrosse is played, and this is the area I wanted to spread the word about a new lacrosse opportunity at Ancilla College!
When I learned that the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships were being played at the Onondaga Nation in the Syracuse area the fall of 2015, I knew this would be a great opportunity. This was the first international sporting event held on the indigenous lands, and Ancilla College was a part of it! Words cannot describe how great this recruiting trip was and how this became a once in a lifetime experience.
While taking the 10-hour train ride from South Bend to Syracuse to brush up on the 14 international teams vying for the World Championship Trophy, several passengers noticed my Ancilla College apparel and asked where and what I was doing. Once I explained my trip, they too said they were going and that their son/daughter plays lacrosse. I knew I was going to be busy talking about the great things Ancilla College has to offer, I just didn’t know it would be that soon. This was only a precursor of what was ahead for me.
Once I got to Syracuse, I hit the ground running to the Onondaga Nation and the village vendor pavilion where I would have my table. I forgot how beautiful and breathtaking the scenery was of the area. The massive hills and lakeside views up Route 11 made for a great setting.
I didn’t know at the time, but Ancilla College was the only institution being represented at the vendor pavilion. I had a prime location at the main tent, where all 14 nations were represented and some of the major lacrosse equipment providers where at, including Thompson Lacrosse. For those who don’t know, the Thompsons are the most recognized and decorated lacrosse players in the world! Their table was 15 feet away from me.
Friday evening kicked off the event with their opening ceremony. The history of lacrosse and the cultural importance it has on the Iroquois Confederacy was beautifully displayed with a light show, dancing, singing, and the introduction of 14 international teams. Truly a ceremony that rivals one with the Olympics!
The World Indoor Lacrosse Championships also brought out several celebrities and dignitaries to witness the 10-day event. I was fortunate enough to get a VIP pass and had the honor to sit next to former Vice President Al Gore and former NFL Hall of Famer and tremendous lacrosse player, Jim Brown.
After that ceremony, the Championships kicked off with the U.S. National Team playing the Iroquois Nationals. The jam packed arena saw the home Iroquois Nationals defeat the US 14-9, behind terrific play of Lyle and Miles Thompson.
Saturday and Sunday I had the opportunity to meet lots of prospective student-athletes from not only the area, but from all across the United States and several countries. I also made some tremendous connections that would benefit the college and the lacrosse program for years. From traditional powerhouse lacrosse programs like Akron High School in New York to the Hill Academy in Canada, the Charger Lacrosse program was discussed as a future landing spot for prospective student-athletes. One lacrosse organization that I had the pleasure of meeting and hopefully a start of a great relationship was the Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership. HLL is a school-based non-profit organization that provides intervention, leadership training and lacrosse to at-risk youth.
I also had the opportunity to watch some of the best lacrosse players in the world in some great facilities. The new $6.5 million Village Pavilion was better than advertised, as I watch Australia take on Switzerland.
It was an honor to talk about Ancilla College and what we have to offer academically and athletically. This trip will be one that I will never forget for all the connections I made to the historical and spiritual importance of the great game of lacrosse has to offer. Now I have the honor of growing the game by starting a new venture of Ancilla Charger Lacrosse.