John Etzel

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - smil­ton@thes­ 905-526-3268 | @mil­to­natthes­pec

For John Etzel, com­ing to Six Na­tions and, specif­i­cally, the Iro­quois Lacrosse Arena was like a young hockey player ar­riv­ing at the Air Canada Cen­tre. “That’s ex­actly how it felt to me,” says the 17-year-old Team B.C. lacrosse player from the Tsawout First Na­tion on Van­cou­ver Is­land. “I’ve al­ways wanted to come here. It’s what I’ve al­ways thought of since I was a lit­tle kid, and just to be here right now is just an amaz­ing feel­ing.” Etzel, who plays in­ter­me­di­ate lacrosse for the Nanaimo Tim­ber­men, is from one of the coun­try’s lacrosse hot­beds and is a big fan of the Na­tional Lacrosse League. At Six Na­tions he’s met Miles and Jeremy Thomp­son, who star in the NLL. “Those guys are my idols,” he says. “It makes me su­per proud that there are so many Indigenous play­ers in the NLL. I love the sport, and ev­ery time I play I’m just play­ing my heart out.” Etzel is in touch with the cul­tural roots of lacrosse, the most spir­i­tual-based of all team games: “I’ve al­ways thought of the game as the Cre­ator’s Game or the Medicine Game, and when­ever I was sad or some­thing I’d just go out­side and toss the ball against the wall and clear my mind. That’s how I get over stuff.” He has three wooden sticks, but didn’t string them for the NAIG tour­na­ment. He has a com­pos­ite (plas­tic and metal al­loys) stick here but says he feels “more tra­di­tional” with a wood stick, which has “more feel­ing.” And he’s no­ticed dif­fer­ences be­tween B.C. lacrosse and Team On­tario lacrosse, more in the at­mos­phere than in the style of play. “It’s crazy here,” he says with a laugh. “There’s a lot more en­ergy. I think the game we play is fairly sim­i­lar. They play a bit faster here, they pass the ball more. And they’re more tricky, more fancy with their sticks. “It’s a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence.”

John Etzel

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