As we get closer to the First annual Salt Shakerz Invitational (June 25, 26 in NYC— register and/or get more info at laxoften.com) the Shakerz want to give LAS readers a taste of what to expect at the tourney by highlighting the different teams that will be coming to the tournament. This week we’re focusing on the Xiphos, who are based out of the San Fran area. The Shakerz have recently developed a good rivalry with the Xiphos on the field and we’re very excited and grateful that they will be making the trip to NYC.
How the team came about:
According to Mike Vila, one of the founders of the Xiphos, the team was an idea that he, Austin Silva, and Joe Vila kicked around for some time before making it come to fruition. The team was started last year and the 2010 Jam by the Sea was the very first tournament the squad played in.
After graduating from De La Salle HS in Concord, CA (Very famous as a high school football factory, I think the Spartans are owners of the longest winning streak in U.S. history), the guys wanted to find a way to keep in touch with their buddies that they graduated with, continue to play together, and keep the group alive. The guys all had such a blast playing together and the experiences they shared on their team in 2003 impacted their lives dramatically.
At that time, the De La Salle lacrosse team was in only its 3rd year of existence, but the Spartans had a spectacular regular season, finishing undefeated in the state. That season, De La Salle traveled to Maryland to play some traditional powers that admittedly beat them up pretty good, but Vila maintained that the trip was an all around great experience that changed the Spartans’ perspective and really put some serious focus on the games ahead of the team once they returned to CA.
Since graduating from De La Salle, the guys discovered that there seemed to be something missing once they started playing for other teams: the spirit of the Spartans. Hard work, dedication, sacrifice to get better was something the Xiphos wanted to capture once again and they recreated that spirit and ethos with this team. As a result, this last year the guys decided to get serious about it and formed the Xiphos with some help from our their old coach, Bob O’Meara. Coach O’Meara helped the guys by getting them contact info for recent graduates and for the guys that graduated around their time and it rolled from there.
Where the name comes from:
The name is a play on the De LA Salle High School Mascot, the Spartans, being that a majority of the players are alumni of the school. A Xiphos is/was a Spartan’s secondary weapon (made famous in the movie 300) that they used once the Spartan formation was broken or their spears were broken in combat.
Where the club is located:
The Xiphos are mostly located out of the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically the East Bay Area. De La Salle High school itself is located in Concord, CA.
What’s the Lacrosse scene like out there?
The lacrosse scene in San Francisco has picked up tremendously, especially at the youth and high school levels. The game is growing exponentially and the level of play has far surpassed what the Xiphos experienced when they were in high school. In fact, at the youth level in some areas, there is not enough field space for all the teams to practice without being stacked on top of each other or sharing fields.
As far as men’s post-collegiate club lacrosse goes, the Xiphos have a great men’s league to play in that stays very competitive. Joe and Mike Vila play on the Barbary Coast team when they are not traveling with the Xiphos playing tournaments. The team has a lot of East Coast representation and some great players including former Duke Standout Aaron Fenton (goalie of the yr?). The league just added another team and is on the rise as lacrosse continues to grow in San Fran.
At this stage in the game, Xiphos is only a tournament squad that usually does about 2-3 tournaments a year. In the future, the Xiphos would like to put together a team for the league, but for now the squad is focused on playing in tournaments, getting their first championship, and spreading the word about Spartans Lax.
What is the make-up of the Xiphos:
Xiphos has a player pool of about 50-60 guys that they can call on, but the team will continue to grow as word spreads about the team and more Spartans graduate from De La Salle. That being said, the Xiphos do reach out to other players outside of the Spartan family, but they prefer to fill their roster spots with Spartans before reaching out to friends of the program that the guys have made through their various lax experiences.
What makes the Xiphos different from other teams/clubs?
What makes the team standout and thrive is the fact that the guys are a brotherhood and have always maintained a tight bond. A lot of the guys have stayed in contact over the years and some of them remain as best friends from high school to this day. Friendships like these that have lasted so long only translate to good times on and off the field. The Spartan lineage has created a bond that cannot be broken and lifetime friendships built on trust and common experiences.
What are they looking forward to at the Salt Shakerz Invitational?
The Xiphos reported that they are really looking forward to the NYC Salt Shakerz Invitational lacrosse tournament and have had it circled on their calendar for some time. The anticipation is growing. Flights have been booked, and the jersey order has gone out. The guys are excited for the the chance to play in one of the hot beds of lacrosse and test their mettle against top tier competition. Some of the Xiphos are already in NY and will be joining the team there, but for some of the Xiphos, this will be their first time in the Big Apple so they are planning on making it a family trip, flying out early and leaving a few days after the tournament. It’s NEW YORK!
As far as uniforms go, the Xiphos just debuted their new jerseys for the year at the Jam by the Sea 2011, and they will be showing them off in New York as well. The Xiphos decided to go with the sublimation look and used some artwork in the background. The jerseys were a big hit in San Diego and everyone was asking for extras. According to the Xiphos, at some point they’d like to get sponsorship, but they are still in the early stages of setting up the team and their energy had been needed elsewhere. For now, the team is something they finance themselves upfront and manage directly. Eventually the guys hope to go with team helmets and gloves, but all in due time.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the Xiphos or playing for the squad, you can reach Mike at [email protected]. These guys are lax rats looking to spread and grow the game, have fun, make new friends, and play competitive lax together and make lasting connections all over. There are also updates on the Spartan alumni at www.dlslax.org as well info on the high school and its success over the years.
Lastly, a message from Mike to the readers:
“As a hardcore laxer that will not stop literally until my bones give out or until I cannot physically play the sport anymore, do what you love and don’t let anything stop you. If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen, because no one else is going to do it for you. This Xiphos team was something Austin and I used to talk about and kick around for years. Then one day, we just did it. It started with a phone call, paper, pen, and Facebook. Use what you have available. If you want it bad enough the drive will get you there, and the help will come. I know, because I am speaking from experience and am living it now. One must believe in himself for others to believe.”