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InclusionNLL UnitesStories/Op-Ed

For Jeff Shattler, This Season Is About His Nephew Nathan

When Saskatchewan Rush forward Jeff Shattler showed up for his 16th and final National Lacrosse League training camp back in November, the former NLL Most Valuable Player, Transition Player of the Year, NLL Cup Most Valuable Player and two-time NLL champion brought with him a stick for this season that certainly caught the attention of his teammates.

“They were like what are you using this year?” said Shattler.

What the 37-year-old Shattler has been using is an Evo Warp head with an Epoch custom-made “Shattler Lacrosse Academy” shaft.  The head is dyed in colors of Autism Awareness because his five-year old nephew, Nathan, is on the Autism spectrum.  Nathan and his family live in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga in Ontario and was diagnosed with the disorder in December of 2020.

Shattler is on a mission this season to help Nathan and to raise awareness for the disorder that impacts the nervous system and impairs one’s ability to communicate and interact.

“Being that it’s my last year, it can be a little bit more special,” said Shattler.

As part of the NLL Unites, the NLL’s overarching social responsibility program, Shattler is going to have a drawing at the end of the season for his stick.  All you have to do in order to enter the drawing is make a $20 donation on Shattler’s website: www.shattlerlacrosseacademy.com.

On the site, there is a link to the Go Fund Me page or you can click here.

“It’s a pretty nice stick,” said Shattler.  “I enjoy it.  I think it’s going to be a really good gift for somebody or a really good draw prize for somebody to win.  This is my 16th year as a pro so this stick will mean a lot to me but I think it means a lot more that I’m raising awareness and giving back to my nephew.”

All proceeds will go towards Nathan’s schooling and therapy costs.

“I was trying to think of something that I can do to help him,” said Shattler.  “I didn’t realize how expensive it is to come to the needs of an autistic child.  It’s $150 to $200 an hour for therapy.  He does 8 hours a week.  So, you just do the math on that alone.”

Shattler has been working closely with his sister, Cindy Noel, on ways to help out her son. This project hits home for him because the money raised will go directly to Nathan’s care and Shattler is helping raise funds and awareness for his nephew by playing the sport that he loves.

Not just for Nathan, but for everybody who is on the spectrum.

“It’s just to raise awareness and also I can help out my nephew in any way possible,” said Shattler.  “Obviously this is something that comes close to home for myself and my family.  I thought why not…give it a whirl.  I’ve had a lot of good response regarding it.”

A big part of that good response was from his teammates and coaches with the Rush.

After that initial query at training camp about the stick, everyone on the team soon learned about what Shattler was doing and they immediately were on board with whatever was needed.

“My team…they’re a great bunch of guys,” said Shattler.  “They just asked how they could help out and they support the cause. They’re like a family so there’s 100% support in this going forward and I love them for that.”

And the outpouring of support didn’t just come from Shattler’s own team but also from other teams in the NLL as well as those involved in both Canada and the United States who are involved in lacrosse.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a player, coach, parent or fan.  Everyone involved is family.

“That’s why I love this league,” said Shattler.  “The players in it are just a bunch of good guys that always have each other’s backs if we need them.  It is a beautiful game, the game of lacrosse.  But lacrosse is a small community.  It’s a very special thing to see a bunch of lacrosse parents from all over North America coming together for a certain cause.”

And that cause is to raise awareness for a disorder that does not have a cure but carries a high price tag for treatment.

According to the organization Autism Speaks, the cost of caring for Americans with Autism had reached $268 billion in 2015 and is expected to rise to $461 billion by 2025.  The CDC reports that 1 in every 44 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism each year.

A report released in 2019 by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that approximately 1 in every 66 children and youth are diagnosed with Autism every year. There is no one cause given the symptoms and severity vary. Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic, nongenetic, or environmental influences. There is no cure for autism.

Raising awareness for autism and helping his nephew, Nathan, is a primary objective for Jeff Shattler during his final season in the National Lacrosse League.  He has scored 342 regular season goals during his illustrious career playing for the Buffalo Bandits, Calgary Roughnecks and Saskatchewan Rush, but none are more important to him at this moment than the five he has scored this season using a stick that is raising money for Nathan’s treatment costs.

Are there some more goals in that stick before somebody win’s the drawing?

“I sure hope so,” said Shattler.

NLL