Styres, Kilgour set to lead Iroquois Nationals
photo courtesy of Larry Palumbo Coyote Magic Action Shots
The men tasked with leading the Iroquois Nationals at the 2019 Federation of International Lacrosse World Indoor Lacrosse Championship are now in place.
Curt Styres will serve as general manager of the team while Rich Kilgour returns as head coach.
Kilgour was behind the bench in 2015 when the Iroquois Nationals finished second to Canada, falling 12-8 in the Championship Final.
“Bringing him back on board lets him finish the job he started back in 2015,” explained Ansley Jemison, Executive Director of Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse. “He brought a level of professionalism to the team and a level of expectations. I think he did a great job with the tools we gave him to be successful.”
The team went 4-2 at the Championship, with both losses coming at the hands of Canada. This also marked the fifth consecutive time Iroquois Nationals and Canada played in the final with Canada prevailing each time.
“I was hoping I would get another shot at it (and) thank God they picked me again. I love having another chance to bring that world championship back for the Iroquois Nationals,” Kilgour said.
They will be one of 21 teams competing at the 2019 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship from September 19 to 28 at Langley Events Centre. That will be a record number of teams who take to the floor at the Championship, up from the 13 who competed in 2015.
Eight teams will make their debut at the 2019 Championship with Austria, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Mexico, Poland, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden joining the fray.
They join returnees Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Iroquois Nation, Israel, Serbia, Switzerland and the United States. Slovakia is also back in the mix after skipping the 2015 event while Scotland makes their return for the first time since competing at the inaugural Championship back in 2003.
“They’re getting better, so we have to keep betting better,” Kilgour said. “There’s an old saying, ‘you can be on the right track, but if you don’t keep moving, sooner or later, the train’s going to get you.’ We are going to keep moving down that track … improve a little bit more to catch Canada.”
Kilgour joins Styres on the staff and the pair have combined to capture seven National Lacrosse League titles. Kilgour currently coaches in the NLL with the Buffalo Bandits while Styres is the owner and general manager of the team’s division rival, the Rochester Knighthawks.
“It’s a huge honour to be part of the process of putting together a world team,” Styres said. “Just to be a part of the history of the team is pretty incredible.”
He has owned the Knighthawks for 10 seasons and been general manager for eight, earning accolades along the way.
“It’s a great opportunity for our program to have somebody of the caliber of Curt coming on board.
He brings professionalism, knowledge, and understanding of the game,” Jemison said. “Similar to the Knighthawks, he knows what it takes to build a program. Now he is taking his talents to the world level and having an opportunity to compete internationally. It’s a new and exciting moment.”
As for which players might be on the final roster, the four Thompson brothers would love nothing more than another chance to go for gold.
Miles, Lyle, Jerome and Jeremy Thompson all represented the Iroquois Nationals three times: at the 2014 and 2018 Field Championship and at the 2015 Indoor Championship.
In the NLL, Jeremy plays for the Saskatchewan Rush, while his three siblings suit up for the Georgia Swarm. Jeremy has a pair of NLL titles on his resume (2016 and 2018) while the other three were part of Georgia’s 2017 title.
“Just having the opportunity to play for the Iroquois Nationals is something everybody dreams of. It is the highest level and you are representing more than yourself,” Miles Thompson said. “The indigenous community supports us all over North America and that is something to be proud of. And four all four of us to put the jersey on and play together is something pretty special.”