“It’s a medicine game,” says Tewanee Joseph, of the sport
richly steeped in North Vancouver’s Indigenous history.
Joseph twice helped lift the legendary North Shore Indians, pioneers
in the sport of box lacrosse, to national glory.
Beginning in 2018, Joseph has lent his experience and talent
to the school district’s lacrosse academy, offered through Carson Graham
Secondary and which Joseph helped shape.
His teachings go beyond skill development – catching,
carrying, passing, and shooting the ball – in Joseph’s holistic approach to the
Honouring the history and culture of the Squamish Nation and
their connection to Canada’s pastime is intertwined with skills training required
for success at field and box lacrosse.
Tewanee Joseph instructs Lacrosse Academy players at Fen Burdett field.
An overarching goal of the unique academy, open to students
in Grades 8 to 12, is to instill in the young players, values, skills,
attitudes and knowledge needed to be healthy, active and global citizens.
“We set goals to aspire to as a team and as a family,” says Joseph.
“The players are learning the skills and concepts. Through the game it’s
inspiring them to do other positive things in their lives.”
Grade 10 academy student Bryson Guss feels a special
connection to the game.
“I have great passion for lacrosse and I have loved the
sport since I first had a stick put in my hands,” says Guss, who was two years
old at the time.
Also Guss looks up to his dad Jordan – his hero – who played
North Shore lacrosse at the Junior B, Senior C and B levels.
Guss signed up for lacrosse academy, dedicating every other
afternoon during the school week, to learn new skills and to keep practising.
“It’s helped a lot
with field lacrosse because I didn’t have as much experience with field
lacrosse going into it,” explains Guss.
Academy teammate Ethan Mey travels for his last block of the
day a relatively short distance from Sutherland to the Fen Burdett field.
“Lacrosse is my life,” says Mey, “and I would take any
opportunity to get out to a box or field with my stick to improve.”
Mey was 10 when he first picked up a lacrosse stick – a move
that would change the trajectory of his sporting life.
“One of my friends asks me to join and it looked like fun,”
says Mey. “It seemed like a great crossover sport during my hockey off-season.
I now don’t play hockey anymore to be able to play more lacrosse.”
A love of the game compels Mey, a Grade 11 student, to
dedicate many hours a week toward playing lacrosse.
“There is something about the speed, intensity, and fluidity
of lacrosse that I just can’t get enough of,” explains Mey. “I also dedicate so
much time to the sport in hopes of being accepted to play for an American
Mey currently plays field lacrosse for North Shore Eagles
U18, Pacific Coast Lacrosse, and the Pinnacle Aces. Once spring arrives, Mey will
move on to junior-level box lacrosse.
Mey considers lacrosse academy to be an extension of family
and community, crediting the highly experienced coaches for aiding in his
“As players themselves, they are so passionate about the
game that it allows a real connection with the kids,” says Mey. “Within the
structure we learn the Creator’s Game, the origin and spiritual side that adds
to your game – and you can’t learn that anywhere else.”
More information about the Lacrosse Academy is available here. Student applications will be accepted from January 20 to February 24, 2020.
Learn more about this academy and other specialty programs during NVSD Secondary Enhanced Programs & Academies Night, Jan. 23, 7-8:30 p.m. at Sutherland Secondary School.