Only the fastest growing sport in the nation could recognize its top collegiate players and celebrate Native American culture on the same night.
On Thursday, senior Lyle Thompson from the University of Albany and University of Maryland junior Taylor Cummings won the Tewaaraton Award as the best men’s and women’s lacrosse players in the country. The Tewaaraton is the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse.
“It’s all about the game and my family, not about awards,” said Thompson, Division I’s career scoring leader. “If you love the game, it is just about playing. I was going out for the love of the game, and I happened to get better.”
This was Cummings’ second consecutive Tewaaraton Award, too. But this year’s honor is an exclamation point on a season that included winning the national title.
When she received her trophy, Cummings held back tears of joy.
“Individual awards are great, but I couldn’t have done it without my team,” she said. Cummings’ Terrapins teammates were at the ceremony to support her.
“Having fun and playing hard are the most important things about lacrosse because you can only play for so long,” she added.
The Tewaarton Tradition
The Tewaaraton Award is a bronze statue of a Mohawk Native playing lacrosse. The trophy weighs approximately 20 pounds and stands on a black granite base that symbolizes the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The Tewaaraton Foundation holds the event annually in the Smithsonian National Museum of the Native American surrounded by historical artifacts celebrating Native American culture and rituals.
Thompson participated in that legacy by wearing traditional Native American clothing when accepting his trophy.
Lacrosse can trace its history to what Native Americans call the “Creator’s Game.” It’s one of the oldest sports played in North America, and it continues to promote Native American culture and communities.
“Tewaaraton” is the word some Native Americans use when referring to lacrosse.
Today, this sport is played on an open field just slightly larger than an American football field. Lacrosse has been played in high schools and colleges since the 1960s with college and professional championships and international play since the ‘90s.
Honoring the 2015 Lacrosse Season
During the Tewaaraton program, each of the finalists’ accomplishments were highlighted.
The men’s finalists were Wesley Berg from University of Denver, who last week led his team to its first men’s national championship; Duke’s Myles Jones, one of the top scorers in college lacrosse; All-ACC Matt Kavanagh from Notre Dame, who led his team to the ACC crown; and Syracuse’s Kevin Rice, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
On the women’s side, the finalists included: Kayla Treanor, also from Syracuse; Shannon Gilroy from the University of Florida; Boston College’s Sarah Mannelly; and Barbara Sullivan from Notre Dame.
Each player reiterated the importance of a love for the game, team, and family.
“All these players and coaches are so good because lacrosse is a family and a tradition,” Treanor said.
Syracuse had multiple honorees on the night, including Chief Oren Lyons and Brad Kotz. Chief Lyons won the Spirit of Tewaaraton award and Kotz won the Tewaaraton Legend Award.
“Being focused on winning is a loser’s game,” Kotz said in his acceptance speech. “Focus on the team and the power of the game should drive a player’s effort to honor it.”
For more information about the award and the legends, history, and meaning of lacrosse go to www.tewaaraton.com.
Photos: Tres Starkoski (players), Tewaaraton Foundation (trophy)