Larson Sundown has proudly represented Seneca Nation and the people of Tonawanda on local, national, and international stages throughout his life.
Growing up, Sundown was a member of the Tonawanda Braves. He was coached by his father, who had started the program. He later went on to dawn the jerseys of the Lazers of Onondaga Community College, the Six Nations Arrows, and the Iroquois Nationals (now the Haudenosaunee Nationals). He also took his talents to Limestone University, RIT, and, in Jr. A, played for both the New Westminster Salmonbellies and the Coquitlam Adanacs, with whom he won a Minto Cup in 2018.
On a quick note, Sundown didn’t just compete at each of these career stops; he often excelled. For example, at Limestone, Sundown had one game where he had a sock trick, another where he tallied eight assists, and another where he scored 10 goals. Yes, 10 goals. In 2019, with Limestone, Sundown had 110, which is still a single-season school record. The same went for Sundown’s time with the Adanacs in the Minto Cup. Sundown tallied 29 points over eight games, which was the 4th-most points in the tournament.
Sundown has not taken any situation to represent his community through lacrosse for granted. He has traveled the world while representing his people and culture.
But, it has been equally important to meet with and learn from other Indigenous communities along the way. When Sundown was in B.C., he participated in clinics with the indigenous communities in the area. This is something that he tries to do whenever he’s around an Indigenous community that is not his own. He takes pride in developing connections and learning about different ways of life.
“Any time you get the chance to represent the community or your people, it’s an honor, and it’s something that we don’t take lightly,” Sundown said. “When I was in B.C., we got to do a few clinics with the Indigenous communities to establish a connection with them. We got to see how they work, how they live, and how they carry on their traditions – it was amazing. You kind of find a sense of a home 3,000 miles away.”
When Sundown was drafted 36th overall in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft. It was a momentous moment for him and his family. Growing up in Tonawanda, less than 15 miles north of Buffalo, New York, it was a dream to play in the NLL one day. Now, he was not only living out that dream, but he was able to do it not too far from home.
“It’s an honor and a privilege, and I get to do it with really great guys,” Sundown said. “It’s an honor to play the game at the highest level. Having the opportunities to play in front of my family at home when we go up to Buffalo is amazing.”
Few moments hold as special a place in Sundown’s heart as the time he scored against the Bandits in Buffalo during his rookie season with the Riptide. It was a beautiful, chilly night in Buffalo, and Sundown was ready to bring the heat. He dished out three assists and scooped six loose balls that night. The cherry on the cake was the power play goal he scored early in the 3rd quarter to extend the Riptide’s lead to 11-3.
The Riptide went on to win that contest 15-12. It was the franchise’s first-ever game in Buffalo, and it ended up being their first-ever win against the Bandits – the Riptide had played the Bandits earlier that year and lost in dramatic O.T. fashion. Sundown had three goals and three assists in that loss. Each and every time Sundown tallies a point is important, but scoring that goal and contributing to a team win in Buffalo is one of his core memories.
“We [the Riptide] got the win that night, and that really made the whole night special,” Sundown said. “Getting a chance to win in that building that’s so hard to win in and to do it in front of my family and friends was incredible. I was a season ticket holder [of the Bandits] for almost 17 years (until I was drafted and basically couldn’t be anymore). I really grew up in that arena. I always wanted to be one of those guys, so to have that opportunity to score some goals in that arena in front of my family and friends and contribute to a win was incredible. I couldn’t have drawn that one up any better.”
Family matters to Sundown, and his Riptide family is continuing to grow together as a group. Sundown hopes that many more goals will come his way as the unit continues to adapt and meld together. He is excited for what lies ahead for the 2023-24 season and beyond.
“Last year, we were on an upswing,” Sundown said. “Then, over the summer, our management was very aggressive in making moves to make us better. On the offensive end, we’ve got some righties who can carry the ball and be facilitators but who can also be guys who are cutting. Overall, I think we got better offensively, and defensively, we added some veteran leadership. The rest of the young guys and I are so eager to learn and grow every single weekend, so the chance to be around those veterans is a really good opportunity for us. I think this a great opportunity to take what we have already, bring those new guys in, and hopefully put out a better product.”
The journey for growth, the journey for understanding, and the journey to play lacrosse at the highest levels continues for Larson Sundown. He is a leader in lacrosse for his community at home and on the road. At 26-years-old, he’s already achieved so much. Yet, it really does feel like Sundown is just getting started.
By Adam Levi