Swarm Team Reaches out to native youth

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Coach Duane Jacobs (far right), from the Six Nations Reserve, consults with his coaching staff at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.The new owners of the Minnesota Swarm professional lacrosse team in St. Paul build outreach program to the Native people in the Twin Cities and Minnesota.

Baseball might be the all-American sport, but lacrosse is a game that can only be called the First American sport. Eastern nations such as the Cherokee and the Haudenosaunee (people of the Iroquois Confederacy) consider lacrosse to be a game given to them by the Creator. Lacrosse still enjoys deep religious and cultural ties to these First Nations.

It is these strong cultural ties that the new owners of the Minnesota

Swarm professional lacrosse team in St. Paul hope to build on with an

aggressive outreach program to the 55,000 native people in the Twin

Cities and greater Minnesota and a renewed commitment to developing the

next generation of homegrown American Indian lacrosse players.

“We owe the great game of lacrosse to Native Americans and we have a

strong desire to honor the tradition of the game by helping young

natives in Minnesota reconnect with the game that has been so important

to their heritage,” said owner John Arlotta. “Our hope is that the

examples set by the Native American  player and coach on the Minnesota

Swarm will serve as an inspiration to young natives to take up the game

of lacrosse.”

The rosters of the Swarm and the other 11 teams of the National

Lacrosse League are made up of 23 percent American Indian players.

Lacrosse is not just the oldest, but the fastest growing sport in the

U.S.

Members of the Swarm ownership and management met with members of the

American Indian Community in March at the team’s headquarters to

brainstorm ideas for increased involvement in the local native

community and suggestions for an American Indian night planned for the

April 18 game against the New York Titans.

Among the attendees were representatives of St. Paul, Minneapolis and

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schools (three of the state’s four largest

districts, each with significant American Indian student populations),

as well as native business owners, parents and youth. The group urged

the team to focus their efforts on the long-term and to make sure that

their outreach to native youth had a strong cultural component.

The American Indian night planned for April 18 will actually begin that

afternoon with a player clinic on the field for native youth. Travis

Hill, a hard-hitting defenseman and crowd favorite, will be on hand to

inspire the next generation of native lacrosse stars. Hall of Famer

Duane Jacobs, coach of the Swarm and native of the Six Nations Reserve

in Canada, will join Hill for the clinic and a private

question-and-answer session after the game. Special lower-level tickets

for the 7 p.m. game start at $10.

“We are looking to build on this event each each year to incorporate

more features to help educate the Swarm fans about the history of

lacrosse and its native roots,” said owner Andy Arlotta, John’s son.

“Eventually, we would like to bring the traditional outdoor game to

Minnesota and allow our fans to learn more about lacrosse. With the

help of the native community, we can encourage children to be excited

about playing lacrosse again.” 

The team will also be working with local school leaders to expand

lacrosse into schools with significant native student populations. The

Swarm also plans to continue its meetings with local native community

members to strengthen relationships and gather ideas for more

collaborative programming.

Schedule:

American Indian Night

Minnesota Swarm vs. N.Y. Titans

7 p.m. Saturday, April 18

(youth-player clinic begins at 3 p.m.)

Xcel Center, St. Paul

Lower-level tickets start at $10

For more information contact: Brett Miller, (651) 312-3494 or bamiller@mnswarm.com