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Athlete Spotlights

LacrosseU – Paisley Cook

Coming from the land that lacrosse was founded on, Paisley Cook embraces her heritage by representing the Haudenosaunee on an international level. 

Cook, a rising sophomore at the University of Albany, is from Akwesasne, a Native American reservation on the border of the United States and Canada. She said that it is rare for other members to leave the reservation to go play lacrosse. 

“It’s very hard for some of us to leave the reservation, to go somewhere and get seen,” said Cook. “I want to push them a little more and give back, showing them the process that I went through so they can have a chance to go and play.” 

Her international debut was at the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship, where the Haudenosaunee finished eighth overall. 

While at the women’s championship, among other international lacrosse events, Cook has found more appreciation for the sport of lacrosse after seeing what it has done for others. 

“Playing at the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship, it’s like, ‘Oh my god, wow, we’re here’,” said Cook. “When I went to PALA (Pan-American Lacrosse Association), we had the Jamaican community come up to us and say, ‘Thank you for the game’ and I feel like that means a lot to us. It shows that people know it [lacrosse] comes from us. I feel like it’s getting the recognition it should get.” 

Cook attributes her passion for playing lacrosse to watching many of her family members, including her mother and brother play, as well as seeing it grow so widely. 

“Knowing the meaning behind it [lacrosse], being the medicine game, has been in my roots for a long time,” said Cook. “The most rewarding thing for me is being able to play the Creator’s game and having the opportunity to grow the game.” 

Cook is looking forward to witnessing lacrosse on the biggest international stage at the 2028 Summer Olympics. She is grateful for the recognition the sport will receive.  

“Lacrosse returning to the Olympics in 2028 means a lot to the sport,” said Cook. “Having the history behind it [lacrosse] and the opportunity to go out there and experience it. People from all around the world should be able to come watch and see what lacrosse is. I feel like that’ll be a big thing for us and for the Haudenosaunee people.” 

As Cook continues her collegiate and international career, she has a message for new players she wanted to share. 

“Your dreams are never too big,” said Cook. “Work as hard as you can and play for something bigger than yourself. If you can’t find anything to motivate you, play for the people who didn’t make it home from the boarding schools. Play for your family. Play for a legacy.” 

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