Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Traveling With Eli Part 1

Young Roy Simmons Jr with is traditional stick made on the Onondaga Reservation. That's coache's Father Roy Sr. 

When I played at Syracuse University in 1984 and 195 we  traveled to away games on a chartered bus with what coach Roy Simmons Jr. (Simmie) called his “Iroquois medicine man” Eli. Eli lived on the Onondaga Reservation about 30 minutes from campus right off of US 81. He had to be in his late 70s early 80s when I met him. Eli, as we all called him, was a soft spoken dignified man who loved the game. The guys on the team treated him like the team’s elder and sage making sure he was comfortable and had everything he needed for the long trip down 81 south to Baltimore. I believe the story goes that coach grew up watching his Dad’s SU teams play against a team of Iroquois that included Eli. In his day Eli was both a terrific player and stick maker. He may have been the person that made the old wooden sticks for SU players before the introduction of plastic heads like the players use when I played and now. Eli traveled to every game my junior year; his failing health prevented him from doing so my senior year.

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