Talking to Ojibwe Lacrosse Star Jeff Shattler
Jeff Shattler has already won some rather impressive hardware this year. And the 26-year-old Ojibwe, who was born in Edmonton but grew up in Toronto, is hoping to win even more awards.
Shattler, a member of the Calgary Roughnecks, starred in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) this past season. In fact, he was recently selected as the league's most valuable player.
After his NLL campaign was over, Shattler joined the Iroquois Nationals. He helped that squad capture the silver medal at the world men's indoor tournament, which concluded in late May in Prague.
Shattler is currently toiling for the Victoria Shamrocks, a British Columbia-based squad that competes in the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA). The WLA is one of the two top spring/summer men's leagues in Canada. Many of the top players from the professional National Lacrosse League suit up for squads in either the WLA or the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA).
The WLA and OLA champions annually square off for the Mann Cup in a best-of-seven tournament that determines the top senior men's club in Canada. It's not much of a surprise what Shattler is hoping to accomplish this summer.
"I'd love to win a Mann Cup," he said.
For Shattler, this marks his third season of playing with the Shamrocks. He previously won a Mann Cup in 2008 when he was a member of the OLA's Brampton Excelsiors.
Shattler also won the NLL championship in '09 with the Roughnecks.
Many who grew up playing the sport in Canada often proclaim winning a Mann Cup is more prestigious than garnering a NLL title.
"It's a harder cup to win," Shattler said. "You're playing (as many as) seven games in 10 days. It takes a toll on your body."
Shattler believes the Shamrocks have enough talent to take a run at the Mann Cup this season. Victoria is proving it is one of the top WLA early on this season. The club had posted a 6-3-1 record following its first 10 regular season matches in its seven-team league. The Shamrocks were just two points behind the 7-2-1 New Westminster Salmonbellies.
"We have a great team," Shattler said. "We've added seven new guys to our defence and our offense."
Shattler joined the Victoria club a bit late this season because of his responsibilities with the Iroquois Nationals. But he has been a key performer since rejoining the Shamrocks as he collected 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in his first six games back.
Shattler has proven that he is very capable of racking up his share of points. He averaged five points per outing with the Roughnecks this season, earning 75 points, including 29 goals, in 15 games.
Shattler was also chosen as the NLL's top transitional player this season. But winning the MVP award came as somewhat of a surprise to him. He had finished in a four-way tie for 10th place in league scoring.
"I didn't think I was going to win (the MVP award) after getting the transition player of the year," he said. "It's a great honor. I owe the season to my teammates."
Shattler also impressed at the world indoor tournament in the Czech Republic. He scored 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in five tournament games. Yet he wasn't satisfied with winning a silver medal. The Iroquois Nationals were downed 13-6 by Canada in the gold-medal game held on May 28. Shattler had one goal and one assist in the championship match.
"I don't believe we played to our potential in the final," Shattler said. "We just weren't capitalizing on our chances."
Iroquois Nationals' coach Duane Jacobs was pleased with Shattler's play in Prague.
"He played well for us," Jacobs said. "He's an excellent lacrosse player. He fit in well with our team. He runs the floor well and has a lot of skill."
Members of the Iroquois Nationals were pleased simply being able to compete in the world tournament. That's because last summer the club had to withdraw from the world field tournament in England after officials from the United Kingdom would not allow the members of that squad to enter the country with their Haudenosaunee passports.
This year Czech officials did allow team members to travel with their Haudenosaunee passports.
"To get across with Aboriginal passports was a huge movement," Shattler said.
Besides focussing on his play now with the Shamrocks, Shattler has another important thing to think about - fatherhood. His first child, named Ava Grace, was born on June 2. As for representing the Iroquois Nationals in the future, that's a few years away. The team's next scheduled international tournament is the 2014 world field championships in Denver. Shattler would welcome the chance to take part in that.
"We'll see how everything goes," he said. "Health is always an issue when you're playing a contact sport like lacrosse."