Bill O’Brien a three sport letter man in high school playing Football, Ice Hockey and Lacrosse, was born and raised in south of Syracuse, in Lafayette, NY. Bill received a scholarship to play D1AA football at Sacred Heart University after completing high school, where he was an all conference defensive end. He majored in Business Administration and Marketing, and receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in both programs.
Bill co-founded the Thompson Brothers Lacrosse brand, in September 2013. In 2014, he was invited to the New England Black Wolves Free Agent Camp where he earned a roster spot. He played three years for the New England Black Wolves before being released in 2017. He is a Nike Athlete and currently playing for the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League.
He says he started playing a little later than most kids around. He started playing in fifth grade with field lacrosse with hi middle school team. That summer, he started playing box lacrosse with some friends. He played box lacrosse at Onondaga and grew up right off the reserve, so he learned the traditions of the game. One learn at a young age why this game is so important — because it’s a gift from the Creator. It’s used as a form of medicine. It has made an impact on the community.
His teammates were always accepting. They saw how important it was. With teammates, it was always easy to explain and there was an air of respect. When one is playing in other teams, in high school especially. The team he played for was Lafayette — it was a rural area 50-50 Native and white. They would go play other rural schools and there was some ignorance from some of the players at other schools. Whether they’re chirping or talking trash, it was usually ignorant-rich.
It didn’t really hit him until he went off to school. He got a scholarship to play Division he played football at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. As he was at school, he had long hair. He remember going to camp when he was 18. One of the guys asked him “if he was like Indian or something?” he told him he was from Onondaga and he was Native American. He was like ‘Oh my god, I didn’t know you guys existed still.’ That kind of hit him really hard. He was like ‘What do you mean?’ After thinking about it, clearly not everyone has the same experiences as he does.There was a time in history where Natives were supposed to be exterminated. The government wanted the land of the native people. That person, and that question, it was probably a genuine question because they had never met a Native person in their life.
When someone does make a snarky remark, you don’t want to go punch them in the mouth, but rather educate them.
He further adds “It is important to us as Native Americans to be prominent in communities and show that there is a path for success for young kids. A lot of reserves are poverty-stricken, rampant drug use. The dropout rates are higher than any other type in the country. By going back and being a face of the community is a way to help quell all that. In doing so, we’re going back to the points of this conversation, about how to make Native Americans more respected and prominent and raise awareness. It’s going to be something that evolves, more so than it being a quick fix. I definitely see strides being made in an increase in Native American awareness, where the game comes from, and having the people’s respect.”