International Women

July 24, 2014

From the Editor: More Than a Game

Lacrosse gave me medicine. Alie Jimerson made me thankful for that.

By Matt DaSilva  | | Twitter

This column originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Join US Lacrosse to start your subscription today!

Alie Jimerson's words hit me like a ton of bricks.

What started as a short story on the Albany-bound midfielder and US Lacrosse Native American Scholarship winners — Cornell-bound Kason Tarbell was the male recipient — evolved into this month's cover story on the Iroquois women's struggle with deeply entrenched cultural views of their role in the Creator's Game.

Jimerson's passion for both perspectives gleamed in a well-worded essay that won her $5,000 toward college costs. She plans to study business administration and health studies so she can improve the institutions of her native Cayuga nation. She also plans to play lacrosse, to inspire Iroquois women the way the Thompsons have inspired Iroquois men to achieve great things off the reservation.

Jimerson wrote of the respect she has for the belief that women playing lacrosse spoils the medicine reserved for the men and vowed to never touch a wooden stick.

But she won't quit.

Lacrosse is still in my blood, and I respect the game just as much as a boy or man would.

Jimerson got cold feet the night before leaving for Germany to play for the Haudenosaunee in the 2011 U19 world games. Her parents, neither of whom had ever been overseas, urged her to go, despite the objections even of her grandfather, an Onondaga chief. She cried.

Then my dad said to me, "Alie, you are leaving this reservation for two weeks, and when you come back, it will not have changed. You could leave this reservation for four years, and it still will not change."

Jimerson made it to Germany.

It was the most beautiful place I've ever been to.

She remembers the U.S. team celebrating as they ran up to get their gold medals. The Haudenosaunee finished eighth in the event.

Maybe someday when we do win, it will bring pride to our people.

But her father's words resonated when she returned to Cayuga. Friends shamed her on Facebook. Some refused to speak to her. Others said she should not attend longhouse ceremonies.

I realized that my people do not like change.

Last summer, Jimerson was back in Haudenosaunee purple, this time playing alongside her mom, Claudia, for the World Cup team. They stole the show, falling just one goal shy of a potential fifth-place finish.

For once, it felt like people wanted to watch us play.

How many of us take lacrosse for granted? I do.

But Jimerson made me think more deeply about the unexpected gifts this game gave me: lifelong friends, life lessons about picking yourself up when you get knocked down, a rewarding vocation here at US Lacrosse and as a result, a wonderful wife whom I met here. (Think Jim and Pam from "The Office.") She in turn gave me the gift of a son whom I cherish.

In a way, lacrosse gave my life new meaning. It gave me medicine. Alie Jimerson made me thankful for it.

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