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Anahalihs Doxtator

Near-Fatal Car Accident Slows, Doesn't Stop, Anahalihs Doxtator

May 5, 2023
Dylan Butler
Onondaga Athletics

Anahalihs Doxtator never set out to lead the NJCAA in points. The Onondaga Community College sophomore just appreciates being able to play the sport he loves, one that is part of his heritage, after it was nearly taken away from him when a car accident five years ago left him in a coma for four days.

“After the accident, it really opened my eyes to know how lucky I am to be at this school and playing the game every day,” Doxtator said. “It’s something I’ve always been grateful for. And after that, I couldn’t be more thankful for the game.”

Doxtator grew up on the Oneida reservation in Ontario, Canada, and started playing the “Creator’s game” as soon as he could walk.

That continued throughout his early days, often playing pickup games on the reservation with close friend Greg Elijah-Brown, who helped steer him to become teammates at Onondaga last year.

But Doxtator’s future in the sport was in serious jeopardy when, at 14, one of his cousins lost control of a car he was riding in and it slid into a ditch, landing on its side.

Ironically, it was Elijah-Brown’s mother, Julie Kechego, a paramedic, who received the call and was first on the scene trying to extract an unconscious Doxtator from the car.

Doxtator’s brain injuries included two bruises and scratches, and he was in a coma for four days. When he came through, his parents passed along the message from doctors that he’d likely never play lacrosse again.

“After I heard that, I was kind of down for a bit,” he said. “But all my family and friends, they helped me get my spirit back.”

His grandfather, Sim Elijah, placed a wooden stick in his crib when he was born. And he brought one to Doxtator’s hospital bed after the accident. The motivation to play again was right there next to him.

Added incentive came from inspirational visits from Dan Dawson, one of the greatest to play in the NLL, and Jeremy Thompson, an idol of his growing up,

“They knew how much the game meant to me,” Doxtator said. “They knew I wanted to fight my way back into the game.”

Still, the road to recovery was a long one. Every day, his friends and family made sure to get Doxtator out of bed to walk a bit in the hall. The “baby steps,” as he called them, included carrying a laundry basket up three steps “to make sure I could process that.”

After nearly a month in the hospital came almost a year’s worth of physical therapy, followed by workouts with a personal trainer.

But it was three weeks after being discharged from the hospital that Doxtator was able to throw a lacrosse ball again.

That, along with watching games, aided his comeback immeasurably.

“For me, lacrosse has helped me get back to this game just by watching. That’s what kept me going and wanting to get back to playing the game I love,” he said. “Just being around the game makes me feel good — watching it, playing, just throwing the ball around. It’s my pride and joy playing this game.”

Although he was still relatively a novice in field lacrosse, Doxtator joined Elijah-Brown at Onondaga, following in the footsteps of Randy Staats and Cody Jamieson, other native players he’s looked up to for years.

As a freshman, Doxtator led the NJCAA in assists and was fourth in points. Onondaga reached the quarterfinals, where the Lazers lost to Nassau Community College by a goal.

His second season saw the introduction of a new coaching staff, led by Logan Tousaw, who replaced Eric Miccio. Miccio, who stepped down after four years at the helm, shared Doxtator’s background with Tousaw before he departed.

Tousaw said he’s watched Doxtator raise his level on the field — to the point where he now tops NJCAA in scoring with 46 goals and 52 assists — but also as a leader of the team.

Tousaw said it was the Lazers’ fourth game of the season, a 21-11 win at Howard Community College, that assistant coach JD Jones said they watched Doxtator “become a man.”

“It’s been fun seeing that and knowing that it came from that car accident,” Tousaw said. “It’s been awesome, just to kind of get that background and see where he’s at now.”

Onondaga hasn’t lost since, taking a nine-game winning streak into the NJCAA quarterfinals Saturday against Genesee Community College.

Doxtator has helped them get there again with a focus and intensity Tousaw says all the great ones have.

“It’s so obvious to me that he cares so much for the game,” he said. “We could show him something on film, not practice it and he’ll go out there and do it perfectly the first time because he takes the words we’re saying seriously and takes the clips that we’re showing him seriously. He wants to be the best he can be, so he goes out there and does it.”

What’s in the future for Doxtator? That’s unknown right now. He wants to continue to play college lacrosse, and Tousaw said there’s undoubted Division I talent there.

“It’s just about finding the right fit for him,” he said.

After a remarkable comeback from a near-fatal car accident to two sensational seasons at Onondaga, now the kids growing up on the Oneida reservation have a new hero to look up to.

“That’s pretty special just knowing that’s what I was. I was a younger kid like that looking up to guys like Cody Jamieson and Randy Staats who came to OCC,” Doxtator said. “I think just carrying on the legacy that they provided, showing Native kids that you can take that next step and use the game as a vehicle.”