Hall of Famer
Inducted in 2017
Considered a star player for the Detroit Olympics of the National Lacrosse Association
Scored 63 goals during the season
Began his professional career
Gaylord Powless was a Mohawk lacrosse player from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, where the Powless family has lived for over 200 years. Gaylord received his first lacrosse stick at age two and by age 17, he won the Tom Longboat Award as the best Indigenous athlete in Canada playing the “Creator’s Game”, and carrying on an important family and cultural tradition.
In 1964, Gaylord was recruited by the Oshawa Green Gaels junior lacrosse team, which he led to four consecutive Minto Cups from 1964 to 1967 and was chosen as the most valuable player in the series in 1964 and 1967. He turned professional in 1968 and, in 1969, played for the Rochester Chiefs, winning the Can-Am Lacrosse League title. Gaylord went on to a successful career in professional and senior amateur lacrosse with teams in Detroit, Syracuse, New York, Montreal, Brantford, Port Coquitlam, and Brampton as well as with the Six Nations team.
Gaylord was also a star player for the Detroit Olympics of the National Lacrosse Association. He scored 63 goals in the 1968 season, twice as many as his nearest competition. He knew where everyone was at all times on the field of play, was an unselfish player, and an outstanding playmaker. Gaylord's career was cut short by injuries and in 1977, he retired at the age of 30. Throughout his career and beyond, Gaylord marketed the sport, playing in various arenas around North America in an effort to promote the game.
As an Indigenous person, Gaylord had to withstand tremendous racism from coaches, players, fans, and sports writers. His reaction was to recognize that he was a target for bullying and abuse and to overcome it by being the best player, and the highest scoring athlete he could be.
Gaylord gave back to his community by coaching lacrosse, hockey, and figure skating teams. He also supported activities for elders, assisted others in promoting lacrosse, played in celebrity games, and remained committed to the promotion of sport in the Six Nations community for more than twenty years. Lacrosse is considered North America's first team sport and in 1994, the Government of Canada officially named lacrosse Canada's national summer sport.
Sadly, Gaylord died on July 28, 2001, but his influence as a role model and inspiration to generations of Indigenous youth carries on. Through the game of lacrosse, Gaylord helped create bridges, friendships, and goodwill between Indigenous and non-Indigenous players and cultures in Canada.