NAHM – Brendan Bomberry And The Influence Of Lacrosse

Lacrosse has survived and thrived in many indigenous communities because it has been past down from generation to generation for centuries. It is more than a sport; it is a piece of cultural identity. Younger, increasingly influential lacrosse players can thank the men that learned the game before them for everything they now know.

The Georgia Swarm’s Brendan Bomberry is one of those newer-generation Indigenous athletes trying to make a positive impression upon Indigenous youth on and off the floor.

At 27 years old, Bomberry has been privileged to represent Mohawk Nation on some of the biggest stages during his playing career, whether at the World Games or in the NLL.

Being drafted by the Swarm, and, thus, becoming teammates with other Indigenous NLL leaders, such as Lyle Thompson, has motivated Bomberry to try and step into a leadership role of his own. No team in the NLL has more Indigenous players on the active roster than the Swarm. This also makes Bomberry feel comfortable being 100% authentic as a member of the Swarm and Mohawk Nation.

“It’s amazing to have that support and know that you’re a part of an organization that really values our game, where it comes from, and where we come from,” Bomberry said. “It makes us feel very comfortable, and if we’re comfortable, I think that results in better on-the-floor play. We’re all very appreciative of everything we can do with the Swarm organization for Native American culture and our heritage.”

Having been in the NLL for only three seasons, Bomberry is fortunate to have played in a league with an increasing representation of Indigenous players. Many Indigenous players that came before him cannot say the same. Bomberry is proud to be part of this more recent steady influx of Indigenous talent and is grateful to those who paved the way for him to do so.

“It’s very cool to see the growth,” Bomberry said. “Guys like Cody [Jamieson], Jeff Shattler, Jeremy Thompson, they went away to school and got an education and showed us that we are capable of big things and that we can do things just like anyone else. We always knew we had the lacrosse ability to do that, but it took some time for us to realize how much we could excel at it.”

Heading into this 2022-23 NLL season, it’s hard to pick out a roster that won’t have a significant contributor on the floor, including a handful that will likely be nominated for some of the league’s top awards.

It’s moments in history like right now, where Bomberry and other Indigenous all-stars can capitalize on using their platform to grow the game further. The increase in exposure being given to Indigenous players over the last few years has made it possible for guys to send an important message to the youth.

“We all take great pride in our community, our culture, and our heritage,” Bomberry said. “We make sure we pay extra attention to our indigenous youth because of the traumas and challenges we faced growing up on a reservation. We take a lot of pride in our youth and letting them know that we understand them and what they’ve been through.”

Beyond the NLL, if Indigenous players can be included in major world events like the Olympics, they’ll increase their profiles exponentially and will be able to showcase themselves as positive role models for Indigenous youth.

“Being on the world stage,” Bomberry said. “I want our Indigenous youth to feel like they’re a part of that and to know that they’re playing for something greater. Hopefully, we can get to a point – I don’t want to say we’re not equal but – where we feel equal. That’s why guys like Lyle Thompson, Randy Staats, Cody Jamieson, and myself want to do things so that when our kids and the younger generation get to where we are, they feel equal.”

Bomberry is far more than just a lacrosse player. He is an advocate for inclusion and change. He is hoping to have a profound impact on the future of lacrosse within Indigenous communities.

The Indigenous idols and mentors around the lacrosse world have helped to show him the best ways to achieve his goals. Bomberry is going to continue on his mission for as long as the opportunity to make a difference.

By Adam Levi