Rocking the Rez

The Toronto Rock announced this past week that they had signed former Buffalo Bandit Roger Vyse to the practice roster. Vyse was released by the Bandits during the pre-season and has been lighting up the CLax arenas ever since. Vyse is a Native from Six Nations, and continues the proud Toronto tradition of signing Native players, like Kim Squire and… um… hang on, let me think…

Considering how many Native players come from southern Ontario, it’s surprising to me that if Vyse plays a game for the Rock, he will only be the fifth Native player ever to do so. Here’s the list:

Kim Squire

Name Seasons Games Points
Kim Squire (pictured) 6 52 168
Rodd Squire 4 34 39
Tom Montour 1 6 8
Jason Henhawk 1 1 0

Think of all the Native players that have played for the Bandits or more recently the Knighthawks – far too many to list. I’m sure there have been plenty of times where each of them has had five Natives on the floor at the same time, let alone five over fourteen years. So why the difference?

Is there some kind of an anti-Native policy on the Rock? I seriously doubt it. First off, they wouldn’t have signed Vyse. Secondly, this has been the case for the entire history of the Rock, through a number of coaches, GMs, and even owners. And thirdly, only an idiot GM would make player decisions based on race over ability and nobody would call Les Bartley or Terry Sanderson (the GMs of the Rock for most of its existence) idiots.

This is a pure guess on my part, but I suspect it has little to do with the Rock and more to do with the Bandits and Knighthawks. Natives see a lot of other Natives, many of whom they grew up playing with or against, playing for those teams and want to go play with those players. It then becomes self-fulfilling – the more Natives play there, the more Natives want to play there. If you’re a GM from Six Nations (as both Darris Kilgour and Curt Styres are), you’re more familiar with players from Six Nations, again because they live near you and you have watched them play for years. As a result, you’re going to be more likely to draft them – same reason Terry Sanderson picks so many Orangeville guys.

Coincidentally, every one of these five players played for the Bandits either before or after playing for the Rock, and Kim Squire and Jason Henhawk also played for the Knighthawks.

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