When hockey season is over and the skates and pads are tucked away, Blaze Bezecki gets fired up about lacrosse.
Though not one to rest on his laurels, the 19-year-old of the Sagkeeng First Nation has won numerous player-of-the-game and MVP awards in both sports, but says he’s greatest accomplishments as an athlete have come on the lacrosse field.
“Last year was my rookie year with the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL),” said Bezecki who has represented his provincial team five-times at the Canadian Lacrosse Championships, winning three golds and a silver medal. “I scored a hat trick in the finals helping the Manitoba Blizzard win their first championship in the teams’ history. It was pretty special.”
The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous (NAIG) Games will be Bezecki’s second NAIG experience since playing on the under-19 and under-16 team in 2014, the latter which her served as captain leading Team Manitoba to bronze.
Bezecki has three-times been captain of his provincial team and says the secret to being a good leader is helping to keep his teammates nerves under control.
“I mostly just try to keep it light in the locker room,” said Bezecki. “I make sure everyone has smiles on their faces and are going out there to have a good time.
“When people get nervous, they start holding their stick too tight. If you’re scared to make mistakes, that’s when you usually make them. I believe that playing calm is the best way to get your game going.”
Without the finances for a lot of training camps and personal trainers, Bezecki says he’s had to find his own motivation to “get himself out of bed and do what he needs to do” to meet his competitive goals. When he does need some extra inspiration, he has some big names that he turns to—Ray Lewis and Sydney Crosby.
“I watch a lot of YouTube videos of Ray Lewis,” said Bezecki. “I like watching him play and I listen to a lot of his motivational speeches and stuff.
“I also like watching my favourite hockey player Sidney Crosby. People admire him as one of the best players in hockey but he’s just a humble guy who works hard. He’s a big role model for me.”
Bezecki graduated from high school last year and aspires to someday become a plumber or a teacher. In the meantime, he’s found time to help grow lacrosse in Manitoba by teaching the sport at local schools, as he continues work on his game in hopes of someday playing lacrosse professionally.
“We do a lot of camps with our junior team where you just go teach little kids how to play,” said Bezecki. “It’s mostly volunteer work and it’s a lot of fun. I would love to play professional lacrosse, but if not I wouldn’t mind teaching what I have learned over the years to those willing to learn.”