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Discovering Roots Of The Best Lacrosse Team In CNY

Discovering Roots Of The Best Lacrosse Team In CNY

Looking for the place where best lacrosse team roots? There isn’t a more authentic Central New York experience than playing in, or watching, a lacrosse match. The region has been blessed with some of the best lacrosse team in the country. Boys and girls throughout the region grow up playing the game, and two high schools—Jamesville Dewitt and West Genesee—have won numerous state championships since 2000.

But lacrosse’s roots run deeper than annual high school championships. The Haudenosaunee Iroquois first invented the game and originally called it Dey-Hon-Tsi-Gwa´-Ehs. Any discussion of the game should honor the indigenous people who invented, and still play and revere the game.

The Onondaga Redhawk Lacrosse Team

The Onondaga Redhawks team plays and practices in a building in Onondaga Nation territory. The official name of the 40,000 square foot, 2,000 seat arena is Tsha’ Hoñnoñyeñdakwha. The building sits on Route 11 near the town of Nedrow and was built in 2011. It also provides a field for recreational skating and serves as the home for hockey teams of local high schools, but the beating heart of the building is box lacrosse.

The Onondaga Redhawks participate in Can-Am Senior B Lacrosse League, a Senior-level Canadian and American box lacrosse league formed in 1969.

During its long history, the Onondaga Redhawks won their league championship seven times, with four consecutive title defenses from 2012 to 2015. In addition, the Redhawks won the Presidents Cup in 2010 and 2012. Only the champion of the Senior B League has the qualification to play in the President Cup.

The Picture is Taken When Onondaga Redhawks Lacrosse Team Won The 2010 President's Cup(photo courtesy of Sherwin Hill)

The picture was taken when Onondaga Redhawks lacrosse team won the 2010 President’s Cup (photo courtesy of Onondaga Nation Arena)

Many male children in the Nation play lacrosse. Redhawks teams are organized by age divisions from Peanuts (ages 4-6) to the Junior B Team (ages 17-21). In recent years, the organization has witnessed the development of star players. Those who participated and excelled in the program have gone on to become professional players, and one of the most well-known players is Lyle Thompson.

Lyle Thompson is a member of the Onondaga Nation, and he began playing lacrosse at an early age. He played at the State University of New York at Albany and helped the Onondaga Redhawks win the 2014 President’s Cup. He also earned MVP honors of the tournament and was a First Team All-Star as an attack.

The West Genesee Lacrosse Team

West Genesee is a high school in the village of Camillus. Their team consists of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. For a non-professional team, West Genesee focuses on field lacrosse but not box lacrosse. Field lacrosse requires more players to play at the field. Therefore, players here have more opportunities to participate in the game.

West Genesee High School Lacrosse Field

West Genesee High School Lacrosse Field (photo courtesy of Karthik Venkataraman)


West Genesee players participate in Camillus Youth Lacrosse Association(CYLA). Not sanctioned by the First Nations Lacrosse Association, the CYLA is a non-profit organization for students within West Genesee Central school district. Parent volunteers first established the organization and have been running it for several years. Therefore,  CYLA is aiming at developing the interest in this sport as well as fostering the professional players in the future.

Although CYLA is not as professional as the Can-Am Senior B Lacrosse League, West Genesee also keeps records. They’ve won almost every West Section III Lacrosse Championships since 1994, and have won 15 state titles — no other high school team has won more.

The jaw-dropping success of the West Genesee must be attributed to coach Mike Messere. He won an incredible 93 percent of the games and amassed an unrivaled 803 victories against only 72 losses in 40 seasons. Another one of Messere’s success is the youth summer program that he started at Shove Park. The program helps train players from first to 10th grade and the best players go on to the high school team. That is how the West Genesee stays dominant.

For members of the Onondaga Nation, lacrosse is a gift from the Creator and players should play the game with respect, intensity, and dignity. The elders told the young players to respect the game and to respect your opponent. The game is played for the spiritual benefit of the Nation as lacrosse carries spiritual and cultural significance.

About The Author


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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