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#NelsonStrong – Live Like Nelson

Photo Courtesy Dennis King

Members of the 2021 Oneida Nation Lacrosse Team (L-R) Dane Vanboxtel, Hunter Webster, Jordan Gerhart, Nelson VandeHei, Joseph Cornelius, and Chaske Jacobs.

Dear Nelson,

It’s hard to sum up your impact on your teammates, coaches and families, who have ultimately become part of the Oneida lacrosse family. We have all come together to share the meaningful time you spent with us. We are interwoven together forever, like the pocket of a lacrosse stick. No one should ever have to go through what you did. You faced some of the hardest most unimaginable circumstances and took them on with grace, kept your head up and fought hard, exemplifying #NelsonStrong. For some, you were like a big brother, and for others a little brother. You taught us how to work harder and push ourselves to be better.  Some of us, would have never played lacrosse and done well in school if it weren’t for your inspiring nature, passion, and positivity.

You were a young solid dude who was cool, funny, loyal and cared deeply about your teammates.
If you look up sportsmanship, you’ll see your picture, Lefty. You were every coach’s dream because you listened, you learned, you worked hard on and even harder off the field. You had a style and were our go-to guy when you played lacrosse.

Our hearts are heavy for you and your family, but we are glad that you are no longer suffering from illness. So, while we are grieving you on earth, we know that you’re up in the Creator’s land playing lacrosse with the best of them. We all agreed to play every game for you from now on. We thank you for being such a bright light on the field and sharing your spirit fire with us all. We will all aspire to face adversity with strength and grace that you had.  Collectively, we will: Live Like Nelson.


Your Lacrosse Family

Nelson “Nelly” James VandeHei
May 27, 2005 – March 13, 2022