When Seth Oakes learned he had been selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2016 NLL Entry Draft by the New England Black Wolves on September 26th, it made perfect sense.
The Black Wolves are owned by the Mohegan Tribe, and Oakes is an Iroquois who lives on the Mohawk Indian Reservation in Akwesasne, N.Y.
As if the Native American connection wasn’t enough, it also happens that Oakes’ father Gabe is a former iron worker who was involved in the construction of some of the buildings at Mohegan Sun.
“It’s awesome,” Oakes said. “I’m stoked. The fact that they play out of Mohegan Sun and it’s run by Native Americans, and my father always told me he worked on the buildings, it’s cool. I’m looking forward to it.”
As you would expect, given his heritage, Oakes is well acquainted with the importance of lacrosse among Native Americans.
“When we went to our Mohawk classes, we learned that lacrosse was our medicine game and our people would play it for days and play for the sick people and stuff like that,” he said. “Some people would die, they played it so long. They played on fields that were miles long. I learned about it all. But when I play, I play, I feel like I’m not in my body. It’s magic. That’s how I always explain it. It all just comes to you. I play for everyone and I play for myself. If I’m having a bad day and I go shoot around outside or I go play a game you forget all those things and you’re just focused on one thing. I see it as more of my medicine. And I bring all these people to come watch me and they’re enjoying it and they’re forgetting about (the fact) that maybe they’re having a bad day but they’re watching and maybe it’s helping them.”
A 5-foot-11 right handed forward, Oakes spent two seasons at the University of Albany after transferring from Onondaga Community College, where he won a NJCAA title in 2013. With the Great Danes, Oakes earned America East All-Conference honors twice, including All-First Team accolades in 2016, as well as USILA Honorable Mention honors and a spot on the Tewaaraton Award watch list in 2016. He ranked sixth among all Division I lacrosse players in 2015 with an average of 3.18 goals per game and was ninth in 2016 with 2.75 goals per game.
While he flourished playing field lacrosse, Oakes makes it clear he prefers the indoor game, where he can more fully utilize his physical approach to the game.
“The indoor game is my love,” he said. “It’s rough. I like that stuff. The refs don’t call every little thing that happens…I guess I like to say that I play rough. I like to hit, I like to score, I like to run into people. All that stuff. I’ll fight for a loose ball, do anything.”
This past summer, Oakes scored 27 goals with nine assists in 11 games for the St. Regis Braves of the Quebec Senior Lacrosse League. He was picked up by the Tyendiaga Thunderbirds for the Presidents Cup and scored 10 points in three games. An All-World honoree at the U19 World Championships in Finland as a member of the Iroquois Nationals, the forward wrapped up his junior career playing Junior B with Akwesasne, scoring 305 points in 68 games.
Now Oakes is looking forward to the next step in his career, and he is excited about playing for 2016 NLL Coach of the Year Glenn Clark
“Even the other teams that were calling me before the draft told me he was a really good coach and all the staff was amazing,” said Oakes, who is well aware of the challenges waiting for him as an NLL rookie. “I just think it’s a strong league. I think the guys are all big guys and strong guys. You can’t get away with going in there out of shape or you’re going to get pushed around. It’s the best of the best of the strongest and most athletic guys.”