TUE FEB 16 2021 | PAUL OHANIAN | FUEL
PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER
Gifted by the Creator to the Haudenosaunee people, lacrosse has deep spiritual and ceremonial roots for Native Americans. The game is often used to heal the sick, resolve conflicts, and make peace among the nations, in addition to being played for fun.
Today, Native lacrosse athletes see themselves as ambassadors for their game, sharing with the rest of the world the values that they have always associated with lacrosse - friendship, equity, and peace.
Based on that philosophy, the four Thompson bothers — Jeremy, Miles, Hiana, and Lyle — have created the 4 the Future Foundation, with a stated mission to inspire youth to an active and healthy lifestyle while promoting the attributes of the student-athlete and a call for generational leadership.
The Foundation’s primary focus is on creating programs for Indigenous and underserved communities where lacrosse meets culture, and creating community-based opportunities that provide a pathway for the next generation to achieve their dreams.
“For us, the grassroots of the game are very important and can not be forgotten,” Jeremy Thompson said. “All the values are part of our core and define how we want to conduct ourselves.”
Natives consider respect, joy, discipline, creativity, and endurance as some of the values that honor the game. Giving back to family, community, and the earth are positive principles to live by. Basically, take only what you need, give thanks for all things, actively work to lift up your community, and respect and support one another.
Preserving lacrosse’s spiritual connections and cultural teachings while also leveraging the game to provide a better future for the next generation are all motivations for Lyle Thompson.
“I want to feel like I’m giving back to communities and helping today’s youth through athletics, education and inner growth,” said the two-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner. “My hope is that I can contribute something of value to marginalized communities, moving us together to build a better world. One day we will be able to look back and say that we have helped shape our youth to become good future leaders of our communities. That will be a happy day for me.”
Relationship building and fostering connections with community leaders will be among the key priorities for the Foundation. The premise is that the game of lacrosse can change lives.
Betty Lyons, a member of Onondaga Nation who has known all the Thompson brothers since their youth, is serving as a board member for the Foundation.
“This effort is about looking out for each other and looking out for each other’s kids,” she said. “As Indigenous people, that’s something that we have always done. It’s about giving a glimmer of hope when someone most needs it.”
There is great appreciation from the Native community for the commitment that the Thompsons are making towards paying forward the true passion and spirit of lacrosse.
“Sharing our experience, our strengths, and our hopes helps carry forward the knowledge and wisdom that was given to us,” said Rex Lyons, a member of the Iroquois Nationals Board of Directors. “People see that there is something very powerful associated with our game, and they want to be a part of it. There are no losers when you play lacrosse. It’s such as gift and such a connecter.”
Oren Lyons, a National Lacrosse Hall of Famer and a Faithkeeper of Onondaga Nation, also had strong words of praise for the Thompsons.
“In the true spirit of lacrosse, the Thompson brothers have created 4 The Future Foundation to support the youth with equipment, training, respect, and good will across Haudenosaunee territory and across the world,” he said. “The game is in our blood and the boys are proof of that. We are proud of them and their accomplishments."
Rex Lyons noted that the Foundation is based on a powerful mandate.
“When you have been given something, and it has been good to you, it becomes your responsibility to give back,” he said. “Inclusivity is fundamental.”