As soon as lacrosse player Brendan Bomberry stepped into the spotlight, the game was taken from him. Once a top recruit in North America, grades kept the Mohawk athlete off the field in 2015. He was unable to contribute to the University of Denver’s national championship.
Bomberry, 20, matured into a leader for his Pioneer team this season. The sophomore midfielder scored 19 goals this season to help lead his team reach the NCAA Tournament, where they were upset by Towson in the first round.
The lacrosse star spoke with ICTMN and touched on his academic situation, fulfilling his dream of leading his tribal team to multiple championships and his thoughts on the lacrosse movie, Crooked Arrows.
For those who have never been, what’s Ohsweken, Ontario like?
It’s a normal reserve. Think it’s the biggest in Canada. Everybody in the town, boys and girls, we all play lacrosse. We have a bunch of junior teams in our town. When I was growing up I was always playing for the Six Nations Arrows. Now I’m the captain. It was really a dream come true to play for them.
You had some other big-name options [Loyola and Syracuse] during your recruiting process. Why Denver?
A big part of it was [former high school teammate] Zach Norris was here. We decided wherever we wanted to go we’d go together.
What are your strengths on the lacrosse field?
I think IQ and vision. A lot of the times coaches want a shoot-first player. I’m more of a pass-first guy; do anything I can to help our team succeed.
You’ve already stated to the media you want to inspire Native youth after your playing career. What excites you about giving back?
It shows the youth that it is possible to reach any kind of goals you have. It doesn’t have to be sports, it can be with schooling as long as they have a goal something they can really reach for. And I really want to help them realize their potential.
Your jersey No. 19… Is there a significance there?
Actually it was given to me when I first got here, but it’s for my great-grandfather [Joe Montour] who wore 19 when he was playing hockey and lacrosse.
Your suspension due to academic ineligibility. What was the key to overcoming that situation?
It was tough at first. I never had the game taken away from me. I’ve lived and breathed this game and loved it so much. To have it taken away from me was heartbreaking, but it really helped me become a better teammate in practice and help them become better. I really had to focus.
In the same time frame as the suspension, you became a father. Did that help the maturation process?
It definitely has. My son [Jagger], he’s everything to me and he’s really shown me what it’s like to be a man. He was born three months early and I definitely had to be strong for him. He showed me how to be strong. In my mind, he’s my hero.
What’s been your most memorable achievement?
Definitely beating the USA team in the U19 world championships. That was the first time the Iroquois Nationals beat USA in the national competition. I’ll never forget that.
The movie, Crooked Arrows. Did you see it? What were your thoughts?
I liked it. It was cool to see lacrosse on the big screen. It was also cool to see some guys I know in the movie.
Is there anything you’d like to say to Native American fans?
Thank you for the support and I’m lookin’ to make you proud.
Cary Rosenbaum (Colville) is a correspondent and columnist for ICTMN. He can be contacted via Twitter: @caryrosenbaum