Fans of the Thompson brothers, a family of pro-level lacrosse players from Syracuse, N.Y., call their heroes by their first names.
"I came to see the Rush play and see Georgia, and see Lyle and Jeremy and all them play," said 13-year-old Michael Spoonhunter, a young lacrosse player from Saskatoon.
"I wanna ask them what their story is, how hard it was to come to the pro league."
Jeremy Thompson, who plays transition/defense for the Rush, is happy to oblige his young fans. Thompson's brothers, Lyle, Miles and Jerome, were in Saskatoon Saturday night to face off against Jeremy. They play for the Georgia Swarm.
The Thompsons are legendary in the world of lacrosse, especially for young, Indigenous fans who see themselves in the stars.
"Jeremy's like a First Nations player, and he's real good," said Spoonhunter, before catching a glimpse of Thompson walking through the arena doors with his brothers.
Jeremy, Lyle, Miles, and Jerome spoke to Spoonhunter and approximately 800 other Indigenous young people, transported to the game by the busload from across Saskatchewan, before the brothers faced off on the turf.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council, together with Rush management, brought the children to the SaskTel Centre and orchestrated a ceremonial grand entry before the brothers addressed the crowd.
'It's a dream come true for us'
The deep throb of drum music punctuated the ceremonial entrance to the stadium. The flag-bearers went first, followed by the Thompson brothers, then Chiefs of nearby First Nations and Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand.
Dancers followed the honoured guests, and 800 children followed them, forming a circle around the Thompsons.
"Today is for every child that is in here—every young person. We're going to have an opportunity for these young people to make history for their family," said Chief Arcand to the crowd
"They're going to speak to you, and I want you to listen to them."
Each brother took a turn at the microphone, telling the children and fans about their own personal struggles to stay true to themselves, work hard and succeed.
"We try to walk the talk, and have that lead on, and pass it on to the next kid coming up," said Jeremy Thompson.
He believes Indigenous people across North America face similar struggles. Drugs, alcohol, and obesity were mentioned in the talk.
"On the floor, off the floor, we always say it's a dream come true for us as a family at the highest level. Playing lacrosse and being able to share that story is something else."