Editor’s Note: What follows is an open and honest review of the 2012 Salt Shakerz Invitational lacrosse tournament. This is the sixth installment of LaxAllStars.com’s tournament review series. The process is simple: the reviewer has a maximum of 10 points to distribute over 8 categories, making the highest possible score 10/10.
Thinking of checking out the SSZ Invitational with your team in 2013? Read on to get the full scoop. If you are interested in having LAS review your tournament, please feel free to drop us a line.
This is the second year that LaxAllStars.com has entered a team into the Salt Shakerz Invitational in New York City, and it was also the second year of the tournament. We’ve been there from the start! The SSZ tourney may be young, but it is quickly blossoming into a great kick off event for the Summer Lacrosse Tournament Scene, and the event is well worth a review!
I live in Brooklyn, so obviously my accommodations were an A+. Why would you ever leave an apartment with beautifully color-coded bookshelves? However, accommodations are extremely important for those traveling from out of town, so I made sure to ask plenty of players what they thought about the hotel the Shakerz had picked out.
I found out the rate was reasonable, the rooms were nice, and that it was as close to the fields as possible, considering that the beautiful turf fields are on a smaller island off Manhattan (Randall’s Island). There is plenty to do right there, so we start off strong, as the Accommodations get an easy +1.
You know what else gets an easy +1? The Pre-Game Meal; it definitely gets a +1. You’re in New York City, the City that never sleeps, and if you can’t find a good bite to eat before heading out to play some lacrosse, then it’s on you. There was a grill set up by the Parks Dept near the fields during the day, and one could purchase food there as well, even if it was only OK.
Off-Field Activities are another category that New York City really helps with, and it gets the SSZ tourney a big, fat +2. The Shakerz have a tournament party (located near the hotel!) on Saturday night, and also host a Shakerz party on Friday night. And if that’s not your cup of tea, well ok… New York City is a reallybig place. There is literally something for anyone here, except maybe a real life big game hunter.
So far, the SSZ tourney is batting 1.000, but of course, just as I make a baseball analogy, the first strike comes in to play. The Prescription to Lax only gets a +.5, but more than anything it seems to be a result of the tourney being so new. Rules are still being tested out, best practices are still being learned, and finding the right mix of teams can take anyone some time, even if the numbers have been great so far. That being said, +.5 for a second year tournament is actually quite good!
The Talent Variety also only receives a +.5, but much like the above category, I think this has a lot to do with the tournament being so new. The talent in 2012 was better than it was in 2011, and I can see the Invitational growing, and improving, as the years go on. Again, for this tourney to be so young and still receive a +.5 here is impressive. 16 very solid teams made it out for two years, right off the bat. There aren’t a lot of tourneys that can say that.
I definitely heard some complaining this past weekend, but most of it had to do with tie games being decided by a Longstick Braveheart, and it usually came from the team that lost. I thought it was awesome, and along with the dive shot, it makes for two neat twists. Only one or two players really took advantage of the dive, but I love that it was there.
Overall, Saturday was great, and Sunday was pretty good. Team Satisfaction gets a +.75, and Sunday was much smoother this year than last. Another sign of improvement! I think an all-tourney team being announced on Saturday night could add to teams’ enthusiasm for the games, and for the party. I also think that All-Tourney team should play an All-Shakerz team, but maybe that’s just me!
You could say that there was something for the kids in that they could come out and watch a great game of lacrosse, but really there wasn’t. Most tournaments don’t have anything for the kids, and a zero can be standard here. In the future, I could see two Youth or Summer club teams playing a game at noon on Saturday as everyone else broke for Lunch, or high school kids working the scorer’s tables. For now, Something For the Kids gets a +0 though.
Event Execution is a BIG one. It can make or break a tourney, and all the potential in the world can’t save you if the execution is off by even just a bit. Staff can be an issue, the little things can get overlooked, and things can swing out of control rapidly. Thankfully, none of that went down at the SSZ Invitational. Even when it looked like a brawl might erupt, fueled by the 97 degree temperatures, the Shakerz stepped in and made it all work. By and large, people seemed to leave happy.
The event size was manageable, and the core of the Shakerz really banded together to make it happen. Certain guys, who I thought would be playing, spent ALL weekend working instead, and this was extremely impressive to see. It wasn’t FOR the Shakerz, it was BY the Shakerz, and I loved that. Was the tourney perfect? Of course not! But Event Execution still gets a really STRONG +1.75! A special shootout has to go to my The Lacrosse Show partner, Mark Powers, for shagging balls and doing all the little things!
Overall Score: 7.5/10
I am tough with my scoring, and for a second year tournament to garner 7.5 points out of a possible 10 is outstanding. New Orleans has been around for DECADES and so has the Ales Hrebesky Memorial, and the SSZ Invitational isn’t that far off from either of those world-renowned lacrosse events.
The Salt Shakerz are young, experienced and enthusiastic. Their team will continue to improve, and so will their event, as long as they keep passing that salt. The SSZ Invitational is a good tournament, with a very bright future. We’ll be back for years to come!
Thanks to Jeff Melnik for the FANTASTIC LAS photos! Jeff took a ton of amazing shots all weekend long and you can find out more, or hire Jeff to work YOUR event by contacting him via the Conquest Imagery Facebook page!
Want to know more about other Club Lacrosse Events? Check out the rest of our comprehensive tournament reviews!