Below is a quick interview with CJ Greene, a member of the Salt Shakerz 2013 Invitational Tournament Committee. In 2012, the committee included Justin Korinis, Mark Powers, and Faith Richards. Read along as the Shakerz reflect on 2012 and their keys to improve the tournament in 2013.
Like anything, building a successful tournament requires plenty of time, effort and a little bit of trial and error! To register your team for the SSZ Invitational in 2013 (June 28th – 30th in NYC!), head on over to LaxOften.com’s registration page, and make it happen! For more info on the tourney, see the Shakerz’ Press Release, which is posted below the interview portion.
Starting a tourney is easy, but keeping it going and improving is hard! What have the SSZ been doing to improve the tourney each year and build a solid base of teams?
We were very nervous to launch a tournament in 2011, especially considering the Shakerz had traveled for 3 years prior playing in some of the best lacrosse events around the country. The Ocean City Lax Classic, War at the Shore, and the Vail Shootout have been around for years and are well established on the club lacrosse circuit. That definitely motivated us was to have something in our backyard!
There’s so much talent in the NYC metro area, and with a cool city like NYC, the SSZ Invy was born. However, this was not the first time a lacrosse event was held in NYC, so we also knew it would not be that easy.
Every year we take a survey from all the participating teams to understand what could be better. In our first year, bathrooms and more games stuck out as the key improvements. So for 2012, we moved the fields near bathrooms and gave all non-playoff qualifying teams a consolation game on Sunday. The key feedback we heard in 2013 was to continue raising the competition level.
That’s something extremely important to us, so we have been networking in the offseason to bring some of the best competition we have seen across the U.S. back to NYC. Lastly, we want to make this event appeal to more aspects of the lacrosse community. We have included a women’s division in 13’ and hope to build on the heels of our Master’s team exhibition featuring “Seasoned Salt” for the 2014 Invitational.
What’s special for 2013?
What makes 2013 special is our commitment to more lacrosse, more teams, and more NYC. We have expanded the field to 20 teams in the Men’s Elite Division and have launched the Women’s Elite Division. It’s crazy, but based on some recent conversations, the Women’s Elite Division is already full!
We also extended the tournament to 3 days giving players an opportunity get more games in and spend more time in the greatest city on the planet. We felt that in our first two years, the tournament was over as soon as it got started. Hopefully the 3rd day will give players and fans alike a chance to really absorb all that NYC has to offer. Our goal is to create an environment where you can get an awesome experience both on and off the field.
So will the SSZ put in a elite team this year and then another team? Or is it going to be a draft like last year?
The draft is back! The Shakerz will again have two elite teams participating in the SSZ Invy 13’. Our roster has grown to cover both East and West coasts, with a few spots in between, and this tournament offers a chance for all Shakerz to come back to the place where this team originated. The draft is a fun way to build equally talented rosters to compete in the event. If you recall, there is a Shakerz alumni game that takes place at the end of the tournament every year.
It’s a special time for us because it has the perfect balance of good competition and a bunch of laughs. I personally wish we could have more games like that. Playing and growing this game we all love with some of the best guys around… That’s what this game is all about. As for the draft, it will be held online this year, so players and friends alike can follow along to see who ends up on “Team – Laxoften” and “Team – Pass the Salt”. Updates will be posted to our new Facebook fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/laxoften
What surprised you the most last summer?
I’ve got 2 answers for this one:
1) It was hot, and it seemed to only get hotter! We still can’t figure out how guys were able to walk around in the sun let alone play with helmet and gloves. Furthermore, it was a challenge to keep up with the water and ice at the fields with guys taking cold showers at the fields to stay cool! We actually had to make a road trip into Queens to reload on water and ice Saturday afternoon!
2) The tournament spurred lots of interest from teams outside of our target market. We wanted to host a Men’s Elite event and did not expect to get such a great response from Women’s, Master’s and Youth teams regarding additional divisions. Hopefully we can figure out a way to make that work in the future!
More Info On the SSZ 2013 Invitational:
The SSZ Invy is getting geared up for 2013 and we wanted to make sure you had the information before everybody else! Registration is now live, and we only have spots for 20 teams in 2013. Similar to last year visit http://www.laxoften.com to register. You will then be prompted to a new screen to process payment.
Men’s Early Registration Tourney Fee (through Mar 31, 2013 – $1,000) After March 31, 2013 – $1,100
Women’s Early Registration Tourney Fee (through Mar 31, 2013 – $500) After March 31, 2013 – $600
What’s new in 2013? More teams, more lacrosse, more NYC! Based on the success of the 2012 SSZ Invitational, the Shakerz have expanded the tournament to 3 days and will feature a Men’s Elite and Women’s Elite Division.
The 3rd annual SSZ Invitational will be back at Randall’s Island, with NYC skyline behind every goal and big hit. The tournament is open to men’s elite club teams, women’s elite club teams and will also feature a Master’s exhibition including the Shakerz’ program “Seasoned Salt”.
Men’s Division – Every team will be guaranteed to play four games: One game on Friday (June 28th), two games on Saturday (June 29th), with the playoffs being held on Sunday (June 30th). The tournament teams will be split up into groups representing the 5 New York City “boroughs” for round-robin play, with the top seed of each borough advancing to the playoffs. The remaining three spots will be wild card awarded on total points.
Additionally, after taking feedback from prior tournaments, the Shakerz have set up consolation games for the remaining teams that do not make the playoffs, which will also take place on Sunday.
The games at the 2013 Salt Shakerz Invitational will be traditional tournament style with 25 minute running time halves and a 5 minute halftime, which should provide everyone with plenty of lax over the course of the weekend. Same rules in 2013 keeping lacrosse the fastest game on two feet! We also welcome back the dive from 2012!
Women’s Division – On the heels of the Cayenne Pepperz success, the invitational will include a Women’s Elite Division with games beginning on Saturday June 29th. Similar to the Men’s Elite, there will be round robin play with playoffs and consolation games on Sunday June 30th. When asked about the goals for the 2013 Women’s Division, Faith Richards of the Pepperz said: “We’re looking forward to this event becoming the staple “summer kick off tournament” for women’s elite teams. Randall’s Island provides a unique location for a lacrosse tournament and we’re excited for a 2 day event this year!”
The games in the Women’s Division will also be 25 minute running time halves and a 5 minute halftime.
The Invitational will again feature a vendor village in order to showcase the Salt Shakerz’ loyal lacrosse equipment and apparel partners! Similar to last year, and in a continued effort to make the tournament even more accessible and attractive to out-of-town teams, the Shakerz have blocked off a group of discounted hotel rooms at the nearby Courtyard Marriott on 92nd St (Courtyard Marriott Upper East Side, 410 East 92nd Street, New York, NY). Call (212) 410-6777 to make a reservation and Mention “Salt Shakerz” to get the reduced rate.
We hope to see you back in NYC!