Sunday, October 21st, 2012 - On a beautiful sunny day at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, fans entered Kezar Stadium ready for a battle. The 4th annual San Francisco Fall Lacrosse Classic featured a matchup between Lehigh and Ohio State, two physical teams with a lot to prove, as they prepare for the 2013 season.
From the very first whistle to the end of the 5th quarter, players from either team were chomping at the bit, playing for a win, listening to their coaches, and trying to improve. For a fall ball exhibition game, we witnessed some pretty passionate lacrosse.
Lehigh left Kezar victorious over the Buckeyes 15-13, unofficially of course. Below are select photos from the bout. It was a physical and high-scoring game, and it was fun for the spectators, who definitely enjoyed the lack of a horn throughout the game.
We were able to have a presence at this event thanks to our recent journey to San Francisco with the Grow The Game Tour. It was a pleasure to take in the game at Kezar Stadium and get a first-hand account of what it’s like to attend the San Francisco Fall Classic, which I had heard so much about.
While it was a wonderful event and I enjoyed the action on the field, the thing that stood out to me the most was what happened prior to the game. There was a free youth clinic that was like nothing I had ever seen before. During the clinic, which was sponsored by Maverik Lacrosse and led by Matt Oglesby of All West Lacrosse, the Lehigh and Ohio State coaches and players interacted with and executed drills for more than one hundred kids, all of whom had been chosen to participate by random lottery.
This wasn’t a clinic staffed by Lehigh and Ohio State freshmen or players on the injured list. It was a clinic staffed by nearly every player on each roster and every coach that made the trip. During passing and catching sessions, there were nearly enough college lacrosse players to match up one with every aspiring young athlete. Watching from afar, I found the scene to be a bit surreal and quite inspiring. That kind of one on one time is invaluable.
As the clinic wound down to an end, I had the opportunity to observe Lehigh Head Coach Kevin Cassese and Ohio State Head Coach Nick Myers as they spent time chatting with some of the young players. Both coaches were smiling and laughing; you could tell they were happy to be there, enjoying their favorite sport on a beautiful day in San Francisco. Such positive attitudes carried by these coaches must have had a direct impact on their players too. Everyone was having a good time growing the game.
I had the brief opportunity to speak with Tom Mistele, event organizer and member of the BAYS Foundation Leadership Team, about the success of the event over the years. He informed me that the main way they measure success is based on how much money is raised through tickets sales for the BAYS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has awarded $225,000 in grants since 2009, the year the Fall Lacrosse Classic was born.
Tom explained to me that planning the event is always a challenge because every individual involved is a volunteer. The staff takes pride in being well-organized and works hard to attract the best possible teams to the event every year. It certainly doesn’t hurt that lacrosse in California is on the infinite rise and San Francisco is such a cool place.
Lehigh and Ohio State now join Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Denver, Harvard, and Brown as teams that have participated at the event, and as a result, had a positive impact on the growth of the game in Northern California.
For more information on the San Francisco Fall Lacrosse Classic, visit sflacrosse.com.
Video highlights courtesy The Lacrosse Network: