George Alexander sports column

George A Portrait thumbnailStanding Buffalo First Nation is a small Dakota community some 45 minutes northeast of Regina, Saskatchewan. Yes, right smack dab in the middle of the Canadian Prairies. Probably, not the first place you’d think of when unearthing a lacrosse sporting mecca, however, it is just that. Over the past four years, Standing Buffalo has been recognized as Western Canada’s most successful First Nations lacrosse program.

The lacrosse program in Standing Buffalo has very recent and humble roots. Just seven years ago they started playing in the Queen City Minor Box Lacrosse League in Regina. Coach Russ Matthews has taken the team to new heights despite some obvious obstacles. In fact, the community does not even have a proper box lacrosse facility and practices under the confines of the local school gym. Yes, that school with a student body population of just 120. Combined with neighbouring communities, several formidable teams have still been assembled.

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Bantam team at Sask Rush game March 12, 2016. Photo credit: George Alexander

Standing Buffalo has garnered several prestigious championships and titles in its brief lacrosse program history. In 2011, they captured gold at the Calgary International Novice Tournament, and 2013 proved to be their most glorious season in capturing a Provincial Pee Wee Championship, along with tournament titles in both Regina and Calgary. The Fighting Sioux were named the SaskTel Aboriginal Team of the Year in 2014. Not to be outdone, the 2015 Bantam club won gold at the Calgary Canada Day International Bantam Lacrosse Championships.

The success of the Standing Buffalo lacrosse program has not gone unnoticed outside their region. Just this past weekend, the Saskatchewan Rush of the pro National Lacrosse League honoured the Bantam club in pregame ceremonies in a match vs the Georgia Swarm. The youth were on the field with the big club, sharing their communities triumphs with the entire province. The kids were humbled yet obviously inspired by their professional idols.

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Players honoured on field at Sask Rush game March 12, 2016. Photo credit: George Alexander.

It’s not where you come from but it’s where you are going. This is a motto the Standing Buffalo lacrosse program could easily adopt. Coach Matthews pointed out, that five boys on his current bantam club are as good as any lacrosse players their age in the entire world. A brash, bold and confident lot they are. The kids are rising above many of the typical societal problems being faced in First Nations communities. They are focused and disciplined and supported throughout. This will pay dividends. I can seriously envision many of these youths moving on to both the collegiate and/or professional lacrosse ranks in the not so distant future. More importantly, I know they are great kids right now.

Follow George Alexander on Twitter @Big_G_09





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