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"> Isaiah Skidders: Who I Play For | USA Lacrosse Magazine

Lyle Thompson may not remember his Facebook message to Isaiah Skidders, but it meant more to him than he may know. Skidders wants to be that role model for the next generation of kids from the reservation. (PHOTO BY CASEY BROOKE)

Isaiah Skidders: Who I Play For

This article, as told to Matt Hamilton, appears in the April edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, which includes a special 10-page section featuring faces and voices of the Native American lacrosse community. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

I grew up on the Mohawk reservation and got into lacrosse as soon as I could walk. Around the reservation, everywhere you go, you see someone holding a stick. Everyone’s talking about lacrosse up there. With my brothers playing, I looked up to them and wanted to try it myself. 

Every day, I’d get off the bus, go to the back field, grab my stick and shoot with my brothers. I’m the youngest, so they’d whip the ball at me. We’d play at least for two hours and then go in and eat. We did a bit of damage to the house.

When I got to a certain age — maybe 11 or 12 — people started noticing me. I had to talk to my parents about how people started to recognize me. They just told me to remember who I play for.

"As much as I know it's going to come every single game, I'm still in disbelief. C'mon man. We're better than that."

I have a different perspective on lacrosse than some of the people here at IMG. Last year, we had a few Native Americans here — Chase Scanlan, Devin Buckshot, Dan Burnam. This year, it’s kind of different, and you can see it. I have to get back to my roots whenever I play here and keep it in perspective.

My coach and I — Mark Burnam, who is a Native American — we talked about the kids that have a different upbringing. You really notice it. These kids play to get recruited. It’s a one-man thing. For me, being Native, we learned about the roots of the game. It’s a family. You have your brother beside you. My team is a family, but you can see in certain instances that it’s not there. It’s harder to connect.

I wish there were one or two more Native players here to help each other. I’m definitely welcome. IMG has had a lot of Native American players and it has always been good in their favor, so I just want to continue that. I also have Mimi and Jacelyn Lazore here to help me. But on the field, I have to deal with it myself.

A lot of teams try to get under your skin by saying certain things. The first week I was here at IMG, we flew to Dallas. Tehoka Nanticoke texted me about the team saying, “Hey, try to keep your edge and just be ready for anything you hear.”

I knew it was coming. They called me a dirty redskin. “Cut your hair, you redskin!”

That’s how people get to me. It’s like a trigger. It gets under my skin really fast. Things like, “Hey, go back to your teepee, wagon burner!

I just turned 18 two weeks ago. It’s always surprising. As much as I know it’s going to come every single game, I’m still in disbelief. C’mon, man. We’re a lot better than that. There’s no place for that, at all. It still hits you the same as if it’s the first time that you heard it.

The guys definitely have my back when they hear those types of things. They’ve been there for me. I take lacrosse pretty seriously. It’s my passion and my way of life. I don’t know what I’d do without it. If more people took the time to learn about our culture and how it relates to lacrosse — to know the true meaning of lacrosse — that would go a long way.

I remember being in seventh grade and watching the Thompsons at Albany and saying that’s where I want to go. They pushed me without knowing. I worked in the classroom 10 times harder, and in lacrosse 10 times harder. Finally being a senior, I’m going to Albany. We are all blessed to have them as role models. They have represented our people well.


When I was younger and started to get attention for lacrosse — and I’m not sure Lyle even remembers — but he wrote on my Facebook page. He talked about how he heard about me and he gave me encouraging words. I screenshotted it and put it as my home screen on my phone. I’m thankful for that. He doesn’t know how much that meant to me.

I want to be that type of role model for someone else, the next group of kids to come out of the reservation.

The past three years, little kids have been coming up to me asking me for autographs. They’ll text me. It’s a responsibility and another reason to play your heart out every single time to show these kids how hard you need to work. Everyone can do this. You’re not stuck anywhere. 

I’d tell kids that they can get off the rez if you need to. Don’t be afraid. Play lacrosse and have fun, anywhere you go, and it will all take care of itself. I really hope to help kids reach the next level. That would be huge for me.