June 14th, 2024

Lacrosse is thriving, says player/coach

By Dale Woodard on August 5, 2021.

The sport of lacrosse is alive and well amongst the youth.

As he gets set to move from his playing days to the next part of his career in the sport, Jeff Shattler said lacrosse is ready to be handed down to the next generation.

As he hosted the first day of The Creator’s Game – a two-day lacrosse and coaching clinch – Wednesday afternoon at the Servus Sports Centre, it was all about passing the proverbial torch as athletes began to filter in for the first session.

“Lacrosse is really getting bigger,” said Shattler, a member of the Saskatchewan Rush of the National Lacrosse League.

“It’s expanding and there are more and more kids playing. So my job is to teach them the basics and the proper way of playing lacrosse, catching and throwing. We’re going to do the basics and then hopefully progress and play a game at the very end and have some fun with it. I’m looking forward to it.”

Not only is lacrosse thriving among the younger ranks, it’s a also a sport that has been very good to Shattler, something he hopes to pass on.

“I’ve had opportunities to travel all through Europe and down into Australia and across North America in Canada and in the States,” he said “It has given me a lot of opportunity. Now, it’s time to show the next age groups there is opportunity out there and it’s only getting bigger. With the NLL, Wayne Gretzky is jumping on board with a program. Lacrosse is starting to grow and you’re really starting to see it, especially in Saskatchewan. It’s almost like when the Roughnecks came to Calgary. Calgary didn’t really have that many players, now look in Lethbridge and you guys have a team.

“When I moved (to Calgary) when I was 20, 17 years ago, there were only two teams in all of Calgary that I knew of. Then it exploded. It was massive and now there are teams all over the province.”

With Ojibwe and Inuit roots and international experience with the Iroquois Nationals, including winning the silver medal at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in 2011 and 2015, Shattler now looks to help Indigenous athletes get the same chances he’s enjoyed.

“I’ve worked with a lot of reserves in Saskatchewan and with the Dream Catcher fund out of Ontario,” he said.

“I’m trying to spread the word, especially on reserves, to show our youth that there is opportunity and you can do it. You can get off the reserve and participate in the sport and you can go to school. We have opportunities for schooling and opportunities for funding for schooling and opportunities for sport. We just want to give them as many options as possible and by doing so, it gives them more and more opportunity to succeed in life.”

Shattler has been doing lacrosse clinics for nearly a decade, but in the last three years he has started doing them on his own.

“I usually just helped out with other associations or programs, but then I started the Shattler Lacrosse Academy and it just exploded. I work for myself and a new career path for myself with coaching.”

Shattler is the head coach for the Anishinaabe World Junior team which is going to Ireland next year for the World Championship and is also on the board of directors for the Indian Lacrosse Association.

“I’m trying to get my hands in as many pots as possible and trying to spread the word and help out where I can.”

In seven years, there will be another goal to shoot for with the Olympics recently accepting lacrosse into the 2028 Games.

“That’s what we’re shooting for, to have our own team in the Olympics,” said Shattler. “You have to have a goal, so we’re hoping we can get in there with Team Iroquois.”

Day 2 of The Creator’s Game runs from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“What I like to start off with is I always want to see where their skill level is at and then once we learn where they’re at, we’ll section them off into certain groups. We want to teach them the basic skills,” said Shattler.

“In lacrosse, what I’ve learned, especially at a younger age and teaching the younger kids from the grass roots up, you have to teach good habits. If you teach them bad habits, it only gets worse. I see a lot of it in Saskatchewan and I saw a lot of it in Alberta over the last couple of years.”

On hand for The Creator’s Game clinic was 12-year-old Ardyn Reimer, who picked up lacrosse three years ago.

“It’s the adrenaline and the rage you feel in the game. It’s really fun to just be there,” said Reimer, who plays for the Crowsnest Ravens, a team consisting of players from Pincher Creek, Piikani and the Crowsnest Pass.

Having just wrapped up his season last month with a schedule of two games a weekend, Reimer was ready to learn a thing or two from Shattler.

“He’s going to teach us how to be a better player,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Shattler also hosted a presentation at the Servus Sports Centre, speaking of “The Cultural Significance of the Creator’s Game (Lacrosse)”

Today’s clinic starts with a sport psychology session with Josh Hoetmer, Mental Trainer for the Alberta Sport Development Centre Southwest from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and is followed by a skills camp with Shattler and Chad Chief Moon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The second part of the Aboriginal Coaching Module – facilitated by Trudy Yellow Fly and Darcie Vielle – runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. while a second skills session with Shattler and Chief Moon goes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Closing celebrations, remarks and door prizes complete the day from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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