Wake:Riat “Bo” Bowhunter of Mohawk Nation hasn’t played a game in the National Lacrosse League, yet, he’s already accomplished something that has only been done by one other Indigenous player in league history. But Bo wants to do more than be a name in the history books; he wants to help influence and support the next generation of lacrosse players.
When Bowhunter was selected in the 1st round (12th overall) of the 2022 NLL Entry Draft by the Halifax Thunderbirds, he joined an exclusive list of Indigenous talents that have been chosen in the opening round, including names such as Lyle Thompson, Cody Jamieson, Tehoka Nanticoke, and Austin Staats. Then, less than two weeks after being selected in the draft, Bowhunter would sign the second-longest rookie contract for an Indigenous player (a five-year deal) since Jamieson signed a 10-year deal in 2010 to join the Rochester Knighthawks (now the Thunderbirds).
Upon hearing his name coupled with such masterful NLL talents, Bowhunter was honored to be mentioned among players that have helped pave the way for up-and-coming Indigenous players like himself, especially Jamieson.
“It’s amazing,” Bowhunter said. “Hearing my name among guys like that – I grew up watching them, so it’s just amazing.”
“Cody [Jamieson] was definitely my biggest idol growing up,” Bowhunter said. “I always looked up to him, so it’s pretty crazy to get to play with him and some of the other big-name players on the team.”
This won’t be the first time Bowhunter will join forces with Jamieson on the floor, but it could end up being the most impactful. They both competed for the Iroquois Nationals at the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. They were teammates again this past summer when playing together for the Six Nations Chiefs in Major Series Lacrosse. However, even before each of those opportunities, Bowhunter had the privilege of being around his lacrosse idol for many years.
Bowhunter has essentially been a defacto member of the Thunderbirds/former Knighthawks organization for over a decade. His dad, Curt Styres, purchased the team back in 2008, so he’s been around the team even if he wasn’t signed to a contract.
As both a father and a mentor, Styres has helped prepare his son for his lacrosse career and as a future businessman. Since he was a young boy, Curt taught Bo about business practices and how to utilize them to achieve his dreams through hard work and dedication. Bowhunter has seen firsthand the tremendous effort it takes to build a championship organization, but beyond that, how to grow lacrosse in communities that may not have much history with it.
“I love what my dad is doing for the game. He’s one of the most influential people in my life. I really love what he’s doing to spread the game in Nova Scotia and spreading the game anywhere he can.”
Bowhunter is grateful to have been raised by such an influential and impactful man like his dad. Styres has single-handled helped provide opportunities for countless Indigenous people through his businesses and philanthropy.
Styres’ son hopes that one day he can use his undergraduate degree in business administration (with a specialization in business management) from Jacksonville University and his minor in sports business to make a similar impact on the next generation of Indigenous youths.
“I want to help the younger generation because of where lacrosse has taken me,” Bowhunter said. “It’s taken me to B.C., to Florida, and pretty much every Eastern state. Lacrosse can take you places and can open many doors. For me, it gave me the option to further my education and get a degree while also playing the sport I love. My dream is to be a role model; that’s why I went to school and do what I do to be a great role model. I want to start my own lacrosse camps to help kids get into DI schools and ensure they know how to get their academics done correctly.”
With the knowledge he’s gained at university and from his father, Bowhunter wants to become the man his father became in the Indigenous community: a role model. He understands that the life he’s lived is not one that many Indigenous youths can relate to. That is why he wants to prepare the next generation with the tools to face those challenges head-on.