The Iroquois Nationals can finally get to the task at hand – building the best team possible without having to worry about any nagging off-field concerns. The men's field lacrosse squad has had its share of incidents to worry about in recent years.
For starters, there was the much publicized case in 2010 when team members were not allowed to travel to England on their Haudenosaunee passports. As a result, the club, which was considered a medal contender, did not participate in the world field lacrosse championships that year.
Earlier this year, the Iroquois Nationals discovered that since its team did not take part in the 2010 global tournament, it would be seeded 30th for the 2014 World Championships, which will be held in Denver next summer.
That's because the sport's world governing body – Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) – had a bylaw in its constitution which stipulates teams are ranked for world championships based on their finish at the previous tournament.
Since 29 teams had competed at the 2010 tourney, the Nationals were originally seeded behind all of these countries.
After various appeals and FIL votes this year, the Nationals general manager Gewas Schindler finally got word last week. His squad will be one of six competing at the Denver tournament.
"It's been a long process," Schindler said. "It's definitely a big relief and we're definitely happy we're back in the Blue Division, which is the premier division."
The division will also feature the defending tournament champion United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and England.
The Nationals team was actually reinstated into the Blue Division this past August, but there were several hurdles to overcome. US lacrosse officials could not accommodate a seven-team Blue Division at next year's tournament.
Schindler said organizers cited field availability and scheduling difficulties as some of their concerns for wanting to keep the division at six teams instead of seven.
As a result, another FIL vote was required.
The 23 countries that have full voting memberships in the FIL had to decide whether to keep Germany – the sixth-place finisher at the 2010 tournament – in the top division for next year.
"It really wasn't about us," Schindler said of the latest FIL ruling. "It was a vote whether Germany was going to be the seventh team in the Blue Division or whether they were going to drop down one division."
Schindler said there was considerable support for his team.
"There were 15,000 people who signed a petition saying they wouldn't go to the world championships if we weren't in the Blue Division," he said.
Schindler said that based on how the question of the last vote was phrased there was no way his team could have been dropped down to a lower division. Its position in the Blue
Division had been guaranteed this past August.
Now Schindler just wants to look ahead.
"We just want to move on and focus on what we're supposed to do," he said.
Cody Jamieson, who is expected to be one of the star players on the Iroquois Nationals team, was pleased to hear FIL appeals and votes are now complete.
"It's definitely nice to know we'll be where we belong – with the elite teams of the world," he said.
Jamieson said that players who will make up the Iroquois Nationals roster were not really discussing the off-field activities that were taking place throughout the year.
"We pretty much didn't talk about it at all," he said. "We knew things would work themselves out."
The Nationals have participated in five previous world men's field lacrosse tournaments. But they are still seeking their first medal.
They placed fifth at the 1990 and 1994 events and they finished fourth in 1998, 2002 and 2006.Jamieson believes the club is capable of a Top 3 finish in Denver.
"I think this is our best team going yet," he said.