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'America’s First Sport' Lacrosse Documentary Premiere and Symposium

A story about a lacrosse symposium and the world premiere of documentary "America's First Sport" at Syracuse University April 22.
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Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper and former Syracuse University (SU) lacrosse goalie, Oren Lyons ‘58, will join current and past SU lacrosse coaches, Roy Simmons Jr., ‘59 and Gary Gait, ’90, Inside Lacrosse Magazine editor-in-chief, John Jiloty, ‘00, SU assistant professor of religion, Phillip Arnold, and the assistant director of SU’s Native Studies program, Neal Powless, for an academic symposium on the history and culture of lacrosse.

The event, sponsored by the Falk College and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, will take place today, April 22 at 4 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3. The symposium is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a question and answer session and reception.

The panel, which will be moderated by Dennis Deninger, sport management professor of practice and director of the Newhouse Sports Communications Emphasis, will explore the rich history and impact of lacrosse locally, nationally and globally.

The symposium will feature the world premiere of a new documentary, America’s First Sport, produced by the Falk College under Deninger’s leadership. Fifteen students, working closely with Deninger during the Fall 2012 semester, began their research on which the documentary was based with the first recorded accounts of sport competition on the North American continent: lacrosse games played by indigenous peoples which were observed by Jesuit missionaries. As their final project, each student researched a different aspect related to lacrosse, the oldest and now fastest-growing sport in America. (Read more: An Emmy-Winning Producer's Doc About Lacrosse's Native Origins)

Five students who enrolled in the course during Fall 2012 continued independent study this spring included undergraduates from the Falk College, Newhouse School, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. They have done research on amateur and professional lacrosse to support 50 interviews done by Professor Deninger since February. These include in-depth discussions with Native American leaders, current and legendary players and coaches, presidents of the Federation of International Lacrosse and U.S. Lacrosse, the commissioner of Major League Lacrosse, media from ESPN and Inside Lacrosse Magazine and lacrosse historians.

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Onondaga Nation Chief Irving Powless Jr., current Onondaga Community College players, including Iroquois Nationals All-World Under-19 goalkeeper Warren Hill, and SU coaches Roy Simmons Jr., Gary Gait and John Desko are among those featured in the documentary. The film is narrated by ESPN commentator and Newhouse alumnus, Mike Tirico ’88, who serves on the Sport Management and Newhouse School Advisory Boards.

For more information about the symposium and premiere, contact the Department of Sport Management at 315-443-9881. For those who can't attend, a trailer for the documentary is available here.

The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team

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