‘Tis the Reason for the Season
I’m getting old enough that while I don’t agree with Ebenezer Scrooge’s opinion of the holidays, I’m starting to understand that he’s got a point. The Christmas-lights-up-by-Halloween-24/7-carols-on-the-radio-4am-Black-Friday-idiocy can really bring out the Grinch in me by the time December 1st rolls around. Fortunately, I’ve got something to calm me down and restore my faith in the true traditions of the season; The Space Needle Shootout.
The Shootout celebrates its 7th year this Friday with lacrosse teams from the Pacific Northwest, Eastern Canada and Maryland. More than 1500 lacrosse players and upwards of 4,000 supporters will enjoy what should be a mild weekend in Seattle, all of them looking to take top honors in the nation’s best winter lacrosse tournament, featuring four boys divisions from U-12 to U-18.
The Shootout grew seemingly instantaneously from a 12-team local gathering to today’s 64-team international event. Hosted by the Seattle Starz organization, it’s become a fixture in the winter lacrosse schedule. “We created the Shootout just to provide an event in December that kids can play in,” said Fred Wilmot, tournament founder, “I think we all were amazed when it started growing – I mean, who wants to come to Seattle in December? But now, we’re consistently getting top teams from across the border and across the country.”
The Canadian invasion will be the story of the 2010 Shootout, since, in the ’09 event, teams from Canada packed the finals in every division, filling all eight berths. This year the teams from Victoria, PacRim and New West all return to defend their crowns and prove that it was no fluke.
“One of the most beneficial things for players playing in the Shootout is the competition between Canadian and American styles of field lacrosse”, said Doug Locker, NLL Washington Stealth General Manager. “The impact of Canadian players on the NCAA field game is no longer a novel trend, it’s an established fact. The Space Needle Shootout provides an opportunity to expose that lacrosse style to players who do not have a box lacrosse background.”
With Warrior Lacrosse will be holding daily clinics, and the NLL Washington Stealth sponsoring a Coaches’ event on Saturday night for participating teams, the Shootout promises to be another solid example of Northwest Lacrosse and hospitality. For me personally, I just enjoy walking around with a stupid grin on my face, watching endless lacrosse.
In the U-18 division, for the fourth year in a row, the Maryland Rockfish will lead the way in miles traveled to play. Drawing from the Baltimore area, the Rockfish are coming off a strong performance in the Ultimate Performance tournament held last week in Annapolis. Making their Shootout debut, as well as their state’s first appearance, is the Missoula Elite Lacrosse Club. From Oregon, Ryan Powell’s Rhino Elite will compete, as will Eugene’s Imperial Lacrosse. Down from Canada, in addition to defending champ Victoria Lacrosse, the Adanacs, Pacific Sports, and PacRim (Rhys Duch’s, 2009 NLL ROY, alma mater) will be joined by the Delta Footmen, who sport midfielder Sam Clare, recently featured in LITG’s Canada’s Top50. South Sound Starz, after showing well at the Adrenaline Sizzler in Phoenix, features a couple of D1 recruits, Colby Carr (Air Force) and Cameron Parker (Fairfield.) And the host team Seattle Starz Elite showcases its own stars including Foster Wisman & Kevin Powers, #5 & #6 on Adrenaline’s West Coast Top Player rankings.
It promises to be a great weekend, and will hopefully keep me out of Ebenezer mode all the way to January. ‘Cause in our house, the Christmas season starts the day after the Shootout ends.
Current Tournament status including scores, updates, photos and videos can be found throughout the weekend at http://doiop.com/2010ShootOut