ST. PAUL, Minn. - By embracing the past, the Minnesota Swarm are helping secure the future of their sport.
"I've been a tribal council member for the last several years, and I've been a Swarm fan about that same time, so when I learned they were doing this, I was all in", said Alan Childs, the treasurer of the Prairie Island Reservation.
The game of lacrosse has deep roots. Invented by the native Americans, the sport dates back to the 1400's, but sadly has fallen out of favor on the reservations. Until recently, when the Swarm decided to re-introduce it.
"There is such a such a large population of natives playing in our league. Twenty-three percent of the players are Native, yet there wasn't one Native American lacrosse team in the state" observed Swarm co-owner Andy Arlotta.
This year, the team has a rookie player named Corbyn Tao, who is Native American. The 2nd round draft pick from Robert Morris is giving back at the Prairie Island Reservation. Where in the middle of a busy National Lacrosse League schedule, he still manages to come to Red Wing from St. Paul twice a week.
"It's great giving back and teaching these kids what I've learned. they're very open to learning", Tao commented.
He leads, instructs, cheers on, and coaches the youth in this sport.
"I had others teach me growing up. It's great to have a positive influence like this for these kids in this community".
And he's not the only one who is enjoying this. "He's great. It's cool having a professional lacrosse player like him coaching us" said Reservation resident Elijah Buck. Another young player, Chase Childs concurs. "He's been great. We even got to see him play a game!"
In that game, Tao led the Swarm to a victory over league powerhouse Buffalo, by scoring a hat trick. "They're coming up to me telling me what a great game I had, how much fun they had", Tao noted.
"It's big for them. They feel motivated, kind of like they're part of the team", Childs added.
This Prairie Island team hopes to grow the sport further. Outdoors, under lights, scheduling organized games with other tribes, and other schools.
The Swarm return to NLL action on March 30th.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )