Article via the National Post
By Joe O’Connor
The braid isn’t the first thing you notice watching him play.
Tehoka Nanticoke is big —more than six feet tall and 230 pounds — but moves lightly on his feet; darting in diagonals, flinging behind-the-back-passes, attracting defenders like ants to a sugar cube, only to somehow spin free.
That speed and talent is why lacrosse experts use terms like “mind-boggling,” “spectacular” and “wizard” when describing him. It’s why Tehoka has grabbed the attention of Sports Illustrated. It’s also why, after USA Today posted a goal he scored by firing the ball between his legs, it immediately went viral.
This fall, the focus on the 19-year-old will intensify at the University at Albany, where the standout from the Six Nations of the Grand River will be a freshman on one of the top college lacrosse teams in the United States. And, yes, there is the braid. Hanging down his back, swinging as he runs, signalling – and not by accident – that he is Mohawk.
“Our hair is part of our identity,” Tehoka says. “So I decided to grow mine out.”
Tehoka is from a family of activists. His grandparents were faith keepers –stewards of Mohawk culture, history and religion. His grandfather was involved in the protests at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. His mother spent a childhood summer at an occupation at Alcatraz Island. In his own way, Tehoka is just as political: He is reclaiming lacrosse from the rich white college boys who have dominated it for so long — and his future from all the obstacles young guys face on the Rez.
And while a gesture of Mohawk patriotism at a lacrosse game doesn’t have the reach of #takeaknee, Tehoka is aware he’s being watched. He knows failure isn’t an option.
Tehoka operates by a simple creed, he says, smiling, “Don’t f–k up.”
Read the complete article at the National Post