We now know the Top 25 contenders for the 2019 Tewaaraton Award, given annually to the top male and female college lacrosse players in the country. While the lacrosse community knows this honor well, those outside may not, which is why you often see “the Heisman of lacrosse” noted after mentioning the award.
It makes sense to include that in the description because it's an easy way to describe the Tewaaraton. The award has been around since 2001 (compared to the Heisman, which has been given annually since 1935).
So, if you're not familiar with the Tewaaraton, here’s almost everything you need to know about the highest individual honor in college lacrosse:
Why it's called the Tewaaraton
Lacrosse is one of the oldest sports in North America, originally played by Native Americans.
“It’s a game that Native Americans played in times of war and times of peace as a way to, kind of, honor the creator,” said Maryland's Taylor Cummings, the first and only three-time recipient of the Tewaaraton from 2014-16.
When the University Club of Washington, D.C. decided on the award's name, it seemed natural to link the trophy with the roots of its heritage.
Tewaaraton (pronounced deh-wa-al-la-don or teh-war-a-ton) is the word for "lacrosse" in Mohawk language. The Iroquois Nation is believed to be the founders of the sport.
"[The members of the club] reached out to many resources, which led them to the name Tewaaraton,” said Jeffrey Harvey, the chairman of the Tewaaraton Foundation.
He explained that they had to receive permission from the Mohawk Nation Council before officially adopting the name.
Winners of the Tewaaraton
While the Foundation sets the criteria for the award, it also puts together a committee of lacrosse’s top coaches who ultimately decides the recipient.
“We think it’s been an exceptional process because the coaches care about getting it right,” Harvey said.
|2019||Megan Taylor||Goalie||University of Maryland|
|2018||Sam Apuzzo||Attack||Boston College|
|2017||Zoe Stukenberg||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2016||Taylor Cummings||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2015||Taylor Cummings||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2014||Taylor Cummings||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2013||Katie Schwarzmann||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2012||Katie Schwarzmann||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2011||Shannon Smith||Attack||Northwestern University|
|2010||Caitlyn McFadden||Midfield||University of Maryland|
|2009||Hannah Nielsen||Midfield||Northwestern University|
|2008||Hannah Nielsen||Midfield||Northwestern University|
|2007||Kristen Kjellman||Midfield||Northwestern University|
|2006||Kristen Kjellman||Midfield||Northwestern University|
|2005||Katie Chrest||Attack||Duke University|
|2004||Amy Appelt||Midfield||University of Virginia|
|2003||Rachael Becker||Defense||Princeton University|
|2002||Erin Elbe||Attack||Georgetown University|
|2001||Jen Adams||Attack||University of Maryland|
Syracuse’s Michael Powell was the first player to win the Tewaaraton twice. Northwestern’s Kristen Kjellman was the first woman to be honored twice and the first player across both genders to win it in back-to-back years.
“When my name was announced as a winner it was an incredible feeling. Most of my goals had been team based, so this was an amazing added and unexpected recognition,” Kjellman said.
She and Cummings both said the award helped them beyond their college years as they spread the game through clinics and in their careers, which is another goal of the Foundation.
|2019||Patrick Spencer||Attack||Loyola University|
|2018||Ben Reeves||Attack||Yale University|
|2017||Matt Rambo||Attack||University of Maryland|
|2016||Dylan Molloy||Attack||Brown University|
|2015||Lyle Thompson||Attack||University at Albany|
|2014||Lyle Thompson and Miles Thompson||Attack||University at Albany|
|2013||Rob Pannell||Attack||Cornell University|
|2012||Peter Baum||Attack||Colgate University|
|2011||Steele Stanwick||Attack||University of Virginia|
|2010||Ned Crotty||Attack||Duke University|
|2009||Max Seibald||Midfield||Cornell University|
|2008||Mike Leveille||Attack||Syracuse University|
|2007||Matt Danowski||Attack||Duke University|
|2006||Matt Ward||Attack||University of Virginia|
|2005||Kyle Harrison||Midfield||Johns Hopkins University|
|2004||Michael Powell||Attack||Syracuse University|
|2003||Chris Rotelli||Midfield||University of Virginia|
|2002||Michael Powell||Attack||Syracuse University|
|2001||Doug Shanahan||Midfield||Hofstra University|
A Native American player first won the award in 2014. It was also the first and only year that two players shared the trophy.
Lyle and Miles Thompson, brothers who played for the University at Albany, both climbed up on stage to accept the honor after both broke the NCAA’s long-standing single-season points record (Lyle hit 128, and Miles hit 119). They were (and still are) one of the most prolific attack units in the sport's history, and are also a part of the Onondaga Nation, one of the six nations that are part of the Iroquois Confederacy.
“That year was a tough decision between me and Miles,” Lyle Thompson said. “If anything, we wanted the other to win, but [both of us winning] was really unexpected.”
Lyle said one of the best memories from winning in 2014 was getting to share it with his brother. And, in 2015, Lyle took the honor for the second time. Both brothers play in the National Lacrosse League for the Georgia Swarm.
The Tewaaraton Trophy design
One of the goals of the Foundation is to mark the honor and heritage of lacrosse and sought a trophy that reflected that. Frederick Kail, a Mohawk native, designed and created the bronze statue of a single, un-named Mohawk player on a hexagon shaped slab of granite. The hexagon represents the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.
“The meaning behind the award makes it that much more special,” Cummings said.
The original castings of the trophy are displayed in Maryland at the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Replicas are given each year to the winners.
The Tewaaraton Ceremony
“The Tewaaraton Award Ceremony is a must-experience for every lacrosse fan,” Harvey said.
Each year, the ceremony is held in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
“That’s one of the coolest part of the awards,” Lyle Thompson said. “The honor where the game comes from.”
Anyone can purchase a ticket and attend. Past winners said having their coaches, family, friends and teammates there made the moment all that more special.
“It’s a team award with an individual’s name on it,” Cummings said.
The 2019 ceremony will be held on May 30 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.