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The Warrior Games: Much more than just a game

By Paul Tutka, 11/10/17, 8:15AM PST


Photo: Sherri Thomson

The fact that the Thompson Brothers are attending the inaugural Warrior Games is fairly fitting.


The game-furthering foursome – Miles, Lyle, Jeremy, and Hiana – have labelled their wildly popular, booming brand as… More Than a Game. It’s a tagline – actually, scratch that – it’s a lacrosse inspired way of life that also perfectly defines the US Box Lacrosse Association’s newest and unquestionably most unique event as well…

The Warrior Games: Keepers of the Western Door

The tournament is shaping up to be much, much more than simply a USBOXLA-sanctioned event. Sure, the Warrior Games will provide Native, American, and Canadian youth a skilled and safe outlet to play a ton of legitimate box lacrosse, but the Seneca Nation hosted three-day tourney will provide players attending significantly more.

Taking place on both the Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories (New York) from December 27-29, the Warrior Games will be a sharing of cultures, an education, a history lesson, an opportunity to become a better player, a chance to have fun, and quite simply a box lacrosse experience that will provide memories to last a lifetime. 

“Lacrosse is the traditional medicine game of our people and has since grown into the sport we see today,” said Cattaraugus Community Center Director Brad John, who has worked closely with tournament organizers since the early summer in preparation of the Warrior Games. “We want the players attending this event to be able to witness firsthand the progression of the sport, what it means to our people on and off the floor, and that lacrosse is more than just a game.”

While some stateside simply look at box lacrosse as an additional training tool to help them score a scholarship, John and so many other Seneca Nation Indians have a much deeper appreciation for what the sport supplies them. 

For one, it serves as an opportunity for them to come together as a community.

“We want to share our culture with everyone and show them how we not only enjoy the sport of lacrosse, we respect everything it gives us,” added John. “We hope, whether teams are coming from another state or Canada, they can take some of that culture and love back with them and share it with their own communities” 

Photo: Thompson Brothers Lacrosse

Fellow Community Center Director Josh Becker, who is based in Allegany and played for the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks this past year, has similar hopes for what players will get out of the Warrior Games. “I know when I was in college and my friends would come back to visit me, they would say it’s like walking into a different world,” said Becker. “They loved the experience and I feel it left an impression on them. 

“We want all the players from outside of our communities to leave with an unforgettable experience they will cherish and remember fondly.”

The event will mark the first time USBOXLA has sanctioned a tournament with a First Nations Community. “I think this really is one of the most exciting projects we’ve worked on since we formed back in 2010,” said USBOXLA Co-Founder Shaydon Santos. “One thing we’ve always strived for is to provide our members with the most legitimate and authentic version of the sport we possibly can.

“Players attending the Warrior Games will not only be playing first-class, high-level box lacrosse for three straight days, they’ll experience the sport in a way only our First Nations friends can provide. I’m very grateful USBOXLA will be able to play a small part in making the inaugural Warrior Games a reality.”

As mentioned earlier, the Thompson Brothers will be attending the event, where they will provide clinics in both Allegany and Cattaraugus. 

But like others attending, the brothers will be there for much more than simply to spectate or teach. The Thompson will be there for the experience. 

“The partnership with the Thompson Brothers happened very organically,” said Warrior Games Director and Team USBOXLA Coach Allie George. “This wasn’t us just hiring a company to work an event. 

“We shared our vision, our goals, our passion, and the partnership with them just naturally came together. The Thompsons truly want to be involved and help make a difference.”

Like well known Seneca lacrosse products Zach Miller, Zed Williams, and Frankie Brown have done in the past, Becker feels the Thompsons and USBOXLA’s involvement will serve as inspiration to those within the community. “Our kids don’t always get the chance to compete in high profile events like USBOXLA runs all over the country,” said Becker. “This is their chance to play in their own USBOXLA tournament, it’s their chance to learn at a clinic hosted by their heroes, and it’s their chance to experience the modern version of the sport on another level. This means a lot to them.”

Warrior Games Tournament Director and Team USBOXLA Coach Allie George at the 2017 Trevor Wingrove Memorial (Photo: Sherri Thomson)

While game play will represent the modern version of box lacrosse, USBOXLA has reviewed its rules to ensure the past is properly represented as well. 

Updates to the USBOXLA Rules & Situational Book have recently been made with the goal of honoring the tradition and culture of the sport’s native roots. Players will be able to participate at this year’s Warrior Games with a wooden stick, while USBOXLA members from the peewee division down will be able to do so as well at any association-sanctioned game or tournament moving forward. 

“Wooden sticks have been banned throughout the modern game, which is unfortunate,” said George. “In our culture, they are not intended to be used in a negative or harmful way.

“The use of a wooden stick is a right of passage for our youth. Our children are given their sticks at a young age and are taught to be respectful of them and those they compete against. These sticks play an important role in our culture and are a source of pride. To be able to use them and educate others of their importance at this year’s Warrior Games is extremely appreciated by our community.”

Photo: Thompson Brothers Lacrosse

In addition to the Thompsons involvement, Iroquois Nationals General Manager Ansley Jemison and his staff will be on hand to provide beneficial educational sessions. They will speak to tournament goers about the current lacrosse landscape, how to prepare to be good student athletes, and what opportunities this deep-rooted sport can provide them in years to come. 

The tournament will shed light on the sport’s past, present, and future.

“Players will be playing in a modern lacrosse tournament at the Warrior Games, but they’ll also see elements of our history, our culture, and our community,” added John. “They will see the backyard lacrosse our youth grows up playing, the beautiful outdoor boxes we have, and then the modern lacrosse facilities we utilize today. They will see what the sport means to us.”

Team USBOXLA standout and University of Albany commit Keelan Seneca (Photo: Sherri Thomson)

George, whose stepson Keelan Seneca has been playing under the USBOXLA umbrella for a number of years now, shares John’s sentiments. “We want North America’s three lacrosse nations to gather under one roof and play a sport we all love,” he said. “We want communities to come together, learn from one another, and enjoy one another’s company.”

“I hear from people in the community, who’ll say, ‘Hey, your tournament is really coming together,” and I just tell them, ‘You mean our tournament, because this really is all of ours to share.’”

To borrow from the Thompson Brothers’ meaningful mantra one last time… The Warrior Games will be much, much more than simply a sport or just a game.

What will the Warrior Games provide you? Make sure you’re there to find out… 

There are still opportunities to play at this year’s Warrior Games. Visit for more information and register soon before novice, peewee, bantam, and midget spots sell out.