Lacrosse players with Wiiky roots making history in BC

Clinton and Connor Kaboni, left, and father Wayne Kaboni pose for a photo at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, with the jersey worn by Connor Kaboni, where both brothers have been recognized for their skills on the lacrosse field.

MERRIT, BC – Two Ontario lacrosse players Clinton and Connor Kaboni, grandsons of Raymond Jackson of Wiikwemkoong, will be joining the Humboldt State University lacrosse team this year thanks to sports scholarships earned through their outstanding skills on the field, but the duo has placed their sights on careers in business.

Clinton, 18, is currently a freshman in college at Humboldt, a university located in Arcata, California. He will be joined this coming school season by his brother Connor, 17, who is just finishing up Grade 12.

Clinton has been playing lacrosse since Grade 6 and has already made his mark on the sport after travelling to Los Angeles for college prep school and playing on Team BC for the 2017 North American Indigenous games.  Both Clinton and Connor played on the BC team for the provincial games in 2018. Connor’s jersey from the BC 2018 summer games in Cowichan is on display celebrating the first time in 40 years of British Columbia Summer Games competition that an all-Indigenous team had participated. The brother’s teammates selected Clinton to be the team captain.

His father, Wayne Kaboni of Wiikwemkoong was the team coach.

Clinton was recruited to play on the Humboldt team after being scouted by the university coach who was impressed by the young lacrosse player’s performance. By happy circumstance, Humboldt was one of the colleges that Clinton had shortlisted for his post-secondary education.

“The coach gave me the scholarship as he is working on rebuilding the program,” shared Clinton when contacted by The Expositor. He noted that although the team is currently in division two of its league, the coach wants to take things to the next level and compete in division one.

Enter Connor, who has also been playing lacrosse for several years. “I applied to the school through the California state application process,” said Clinton. 

Teamwork is vital in any competitive sport and the coach decided the synergy between the two brothers was an ideal ingredient to help build the team’s cohesion.

Both brothers admit being influenced by their father’s love of lacrosse, although Mr. Kaboni downplays his own accomplishments. “I played in the bush leagues,” he laughed from the other room. Mr. Kaboni’s skills came into play when he went on to coach his sons’ teams.

“Both my boys have received the premier’s award for the region; Connor in 2018 and Clinton in 2020,” said the proud father. “Clinton’s award has not been officially announced yet, but he received his award in the mail this week and if Clinton gets selected as the regional rep he will be featured in the BC Sports Hall of Fame for a year in the Indigenous awards area.”

But both young men have their sights set on the far end of the field; they will be studying business administration while playing for Humboldt. Once again being influenced by their father, who has built successful businesses in British Columbia.

The duo was born in North Bay and are members of Nipissing First Nation, although their father is a Wiikwemkoong band member. They moved to Longlac before ending up in British Columbia.

“We spend a lot of time in Wiikwemkoong,” said Clinton. “We were planning on going this past summer, but then COVID hit.”