Nick Sakiewicz continues to break new ground in his first season in the National Lacrosse League. On Wednesday, he will become the NLL Commissioner will make his first trip to visit Six Nations, as he spends two days on the reserve in southern Ontario with the Owner of the Rochester Knighthawks, Curt Styres.
His fresh, out-of-the-box thinking has led him to make his first trip to the hotbed of lacrosse. It’s another example of Sakiewicz trying to grow the game. A visit he hopes “will bring attention to people and the leaders in the sports industry.” It’s a trip that was hashed out over dinner in Toronto two months ago and will come to fruition Wednesday morning.
“When I had dinner with Curt Styres, our wonderful owner of the Rochester Knighthawks, he invited me to come visit Six Nations and I immediately took him up on it,” said Sakiewicz. “I love the history of the game and its traditions up there. I am really looking forward to immersing myself in that culture and understanding where such an ancient game came from and putting my arms around it. It should be a fun day and a half. I am looking forward to meeting those fine, passionate fans up there in Six Nations.”
Sakiewicz will be a guest of Curt Styres and the Rochester Knighthawks. Today, the Knighthawks sent an official welcome to the Commissioner prior to his arrival in Six Nations.
“On behalf of Curt Styres and the Knighthawks family, it is with great pleasure that we welcome Nick Sakiewicz to Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. We are excited to host the NLL Commissioner and we look forward to sharing our culture and traditions with him during his trip.”
Sakiewicz, a self-described history buff, will get a chance to learn about the roots of the Creator’s Game, which dates back hundreds of years. Six Nations is also home to numerous youth, junior and senior programs. In fact, many of the lacrosse legends and modern day stars of the game began cradling a ball on the reserve.
Currently, the NLL has 19 First Nations players in its league, with six of those players wearing the teal and purple of the Rochester Knighthawks. The Knighthawks boast stars like Cody Jamieson, Sid Smith, Craig Point, Angus Goodleaf, Adam Bomberry and Quinn Powless.
“The Native American players who are playing in the league are spectacular. They are tremendous players,” said Sakiewicz. “I am looking forward to learning about where they came from and the traditions behind their development. I get to see them on highlight reels after each weekend. Part of my goal in visiting Six Nations is to see where those guys come from, where they grew up and what has made them as good as they are. I am looking forward to seeing the environment they grew up in and what makes them the elite athletes that they are.”
Styres and the Knighthawks will roll out the red carpet as the Commissioner’s first official visit will begin with a Meet and Greet at the Six Nations Council House with Chief Ava Hill. His itinerary will also include a meeting with Iroquois artist Arnold Jacobs at the Two Turtle Art Gallery and a tour of the Woodland Cultural Centre Brantford. Sakiewicz will end the day with a traditional dinner at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (ILA) with members of the Knighthawks organization and the coaching staff.
On Thursday, the NLL Commissioner will stop by the ILA, which is a state-of-the-art arena on Second Line Road. The $7 million facility, built in 2004 with the support of Styres, has hosted international and local sporting events. It also serves as the epicenter for local lacrosse, and is the practice site for the five-time NLL champion Knighthawks.
Sakiewicz will conclude his two-day trip by visiting Grand River Enterprises (GRE). Styres is a founding partner in GRE, which is the largest native-owned company in Canada. It’s also the No. 1 exporter in Canada in its field and the seventh-largest in North America.
Sakiewicz, who was appointed NLL Commissioner on Jan. 9th, has been traveling around to different lacrosse markets over the past three months. He has made stops in cities like Toronto, Saskatoon and Duluth, Georgia. After this week, he can add Six Nations to that list.
“I sat with Curt over dinner and he unveiled this immense treasure chest of history and tradition and that really got me excited,” he said. “That’s why I am making this a priority to get up there and visit this very important fan base of ours.”
Story via Knighthawks.com. Photo by Khoi Ton.