The Czech Republic isn't the first place that comes to mind when talking about lacrosse, but they were one of the teams the Squamish Nation had to beat at the under-19 World Lacrosse Challenge.
"There were teams from all over," Squamish Nation's head coach Sam Seward said. "Germany, the Six Nations; there was even a team from Israel."
Earlier this month, the 23-man team - including 12 Squamish Nation players - headed out to Ontario to compete in the box lacrosse tournament. Box lacrosse is a faster, rougher version of its counterpart - field lacrosse, Seward said. It's played in an un-iced rink. Players have 30 seconds to take a shot with the lacrosse ball before it is turned over to the other team.
"It is sure growing in popularity," Seward said, noting many European field lacrosse teams are opting for the rinks rather than the greens. "A lot of the Nations have competed in both field and box lacrosse."
The Squamish Nation team finished 10th overall, with a 2-4 record. Canada West, a regional team, took home the top trophy after it defeated a team comprised of all-star Canadian Lacrosse League players in the 5-4 championship game.
The Squamish Nation team was a lot younger than the majority of teams in the tournament, Seward said. A large chunk of its players were between the ages of 16 and 17. Seward praise the team, adding all the boys gave it their heart.
"It was a lot of fun," he said.
The event marked a kind of re-union for Seward. In 1980, Seward was in the box playing for an all-star team in the inaugural World Lacrosse Challenge. He went home after the event with a silver medal around his neck and a list of new friends in his address book.
"So when I went back east they came out. Some of the people I hadn't seen in 20 to 30 years," Seward said.
Lacrosse has always been a popular sport within the Nations, he said. As soon as toddlers can walk they are handed a lacrosse stick, Seward joked. He's palyed for 54 years. Both his parents were involved with the Nation's lacrosse league.
"It is a big part of our lives," Seward said, also referring to the sport's aboriginal origins. "A lot of people don't know that it's Canada's national sport. But it is something we are proud of."
Besides coaching, Seward also visits schools within the Sea to Sky School District to give lacrosse workshops. The sport brings people together, he noted, adding he now has invites to stay with players in the Czech Republic. He hopes the Squamish Nation will be able to host the next U-19 World Lacrosse Challenge.
"It is my passion."