Iroquois Nationals Head Coach Duane Jacobs Lives and Breathes Lacrosse
Duane Jacobs continues to lead a double life. By day the 45-year-old owns his own practice, specializing in family law in Windsor, Ontario. Jacobs, who is Cayuga and grew up in Six Nations, also racks up tens of thousands of miles each year driving to fuel his passion of lacrosse.
A former star player himself, Jacobs is now the general manager of the Six Nations Chiefs, a squad that competes in the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse (MSL). The six-team MSL, which has a spring and summer schedule, features many players that also toil professionally in the winter and early spring months in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).
Jacobs keeps himself busy with lacrosse year-round as he's also an assistant coach with the NLL's Buffalo Bandits. From his Windsor home, it takes Jacobs four hours - that's each way - to get to the Bandits' home games and practices. And it's about a three-hour drive to Ohsweken, where the Chiefs play their matches.
So how does he juggle his work and lacrosse commitments?
"Having your own practice allows some flexibility," said Jacobs, who was also the head coach of the Iroquois Nationals that captured the silver medal, behind only Canada, at the men's world indoor (box) lacrosse tournament, which was held in May in the Czech Republic.
Jacobs is now trying to spearhead the Chiefs to some glory the franchise has not had since the mid '90s, when he was a star with the team.
"The goal is to win the Mann Cup," he said of his expectations of this year's Six Nations club.
The Mann Cup is annually awarded to the Canadian senior men's champions. The MSL champs square off against the winners of the British Columbia-based Western Lacrosse Association in a best-of-seven series to determine national bragging rights.
Jacobs played for the Chiefs when they won three straight Mann Cup titles from 1994-96. Though they won just seven out of their first 13 regular season matches this season, Jacobs believes the Chiefs are capable of winning the MLS crown this year and then challenging for the Canadian crown.
To help in this quest Six Nations brought in several high-profile players this season, including Stephen Leblanc and Garrett Billings, who helped the Toronto Rock win the NLL title this past May.
"We worked hard on it," Jacobs said of the Chiefs' new acquisitions. "We were able to land a couple of players we needed."
Six Nations is now viewed as one of four clubs considered serious contenders for the MSL championship. Others in this list includes the Peterborough Lakers, the defending Mann Cup champs, who won 12 out of their first 15 matches this season. The Brampton Excelsiors and Brooklin Redmen, who were sporting identical 10-5 records as mid-July approached, are also in the mix.
"We think we match up well against those three teams," Jacobs said.
Jacobs added the Chiefs have yet to display what they are capable of.
"We haven't played our best lacrosse yet," he said. "We're still finding our chemistry. Our offence has not yet put up numbers that we should be putting up."
But he believes that will come and soon.
"The players are still getting to know one another," he added.
Meanwhile, Jacobs now has three silver medals from the world indoor championships. He was a player with the Iroquois Nationals when they advanced to the gold-medal match, losing to Canada, at the 2003 tournament held in Hamilton. And he was also the head coach of the squad when it once again was defeated by Canada in final of the '07 championships in Halifax.
Jacobs was not entirely content with another second-place finish this year.
"I don't think you're ever satisfied when you lose," he said. "But over-all I was pretty pleased with our players."
Jacobs was happy though that members of the Iroquois Nationals were allowed to travel to the Czech Republic on their Haudenosaunee passports. Even more so since last year the Iroquois Nationals men's field lacrosse team had to withdraw from their world tournament in England. That's because officials from the United Kingdom would not allow members of that squad to enter the country with their Haudenosaunee passports.
"It was a really big step for us in gaining some of our identity and sovereignty back," Jacobs said of the team's travels this year.
As for the next world indoor tournament, which will be held in 2015, Jacobs doubts he'll be behind the Iroquois Nationals' bench.
"I think it's time for somebody else to step up and coach," he said. "But maybe I'll be involved in the management side."
Though an official bid has yet to be put together, Jacobs said there has been some talk the Iroquois Nationals might want to host the 2015 world tournament. If the Iroquois Nationals do indeed submit a bid and are awarded the event, Buffalo's HSBC Arena would be a possible site for tournament matches. And the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y. could also host some games.