Lacrosse flows in Shattler's blood

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

The game of lacrosse has come a long way since its invention by natives, when teams were made up of hundreds of players and nets a half-mile or more apart.

Calgary Roughnecks rookie hopeful Jeff Shattler says over the course many years the game has lost its place among some of the people who created it. It's something he finds disturbing.

"Lacrosse is a big sport in our heritage," said

Shattler, whose mother is Ojibwe and father half Inuit. "It's sad that most natives don't know lacrosse. You go to some reserves and they don't even know how to hold a stick.

"It's just sad."

Shattler speaks from experience because, despite his native heritage, he got his introduction to lacrosse from an unlikely source.

"My stepfather's a Newfie and he got me into it. He played and he's the one that wanted me to give it a shot," said Shattler, who started playing at four. "It was between soccer and lacrosse and I wanted to play soccer, believe it or not. He said to play lacrosse and I didn't want to.

"He pushed me into it and once I got out on the floor and saw I could hit people and run with the ball, I loved it right away. That was the end of soccer."

After relocating to Calgary following the signing of a one-year deal with the team this summer,the 6-ft., 185-pounder has the inside track on making the team's 18-man playing roster and becoming one of only a handful of players with native ancestry to have suited up for the Riggers.

Shattler, who will turn 22 on Boxing Day, has played only one National Lacrosse League game but was a key off-season acquisition in a trade that sent veteran Kevin Dostie to the Buffalo Bandits in exchange for the fellow southpaw.

Shattler grew up playing against teams from the powerhouse lacrosse mecca Six Nations reserve (in Southern Ontario) instead for them.

"My grandmother really wanted me to play with other natives but we couldn't drive to Six Nations from where we were," said Shattler, who took part in the third installment of Roughnecks training camp this weekend. "It was just too far. It would have been 45 minutes or more just to practice. So, I stuck with Mimico."

Had it been feasible, Shattler would have enjoyed the experience of playing for Six Nations.

"I wanted to play with my people," said Shattler. "It's a good sport for our native heritage. We should all stick to it."


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