Summer Tournament Series: Lake Tahoe


The culture of lacrosse is almost as unique as the sport itself.  Most people involved don’t simply play the game, but embrace it as a way of life.  For instance, many post collegiate men’s tournaments feel more like a festival than a competition, where opponents on the field easily slip in to the role of best friends at a BBQ after the game.  Nowhere have I seen this illustrated more completely than at the annual Lake Tahoe Tournament.

Year after year the number of teams looking to find a spot in the late July tournament grows.  Unfortunately for them a grandfather rule allows clubs to reclaim spots from the previous summer, and most alumni of the event have no intention of giving their spots up.

Sweet Tahoe actionAsk tournament director Curt Wegener (who also plays goalie for host team The Tahoe Dawgs) why Tahoe has generated so much interest and he tries to give credit to the area itself.  “The venue is the biggest draw” he says, “It’s hard to beat Tahoe in July.”  

Don’t be fooled by his humility.  While the beauty of Incline Village in the summer certainly is a major draw, Wegener puts on a first class operation.  

Lets start with the competition.  Along with a few adventurous eastern clubs, the top teams from the west coast are always well represented.  Marin and Olympic Club, who cut their teeth in the competitive Northern California Lacrosse Association’s men’s league, use rosters chalked full of former D1 and MLL players to make a run at the championship on a yearly basis.  But it’s not just the guys seeded at the top of their pools that contribute to a competitive weekend, as very few of the 16 teams in attendance offer an easy victory.  After dominating a less publicized local tournament four years in a row, the LAS staff team had to fight its way to what could only be described as “about 7th place” and a 2-2 finish.  Mind you, this was after picking up a few “ringers” to bolster our roster.

Some Oregon Ducks enjoy ing Tahoe (Photo by Trevor Tesar)While there are plenty of places to find good competition, you would be hard pressed to discover an atmosphere rivaling that of Tahoe’s.  There is no doubt that the sport of lacrosse is growing rapidly.  Still, participation is unique enough that a strong sense of community exists amongst those who play, and Wegener has done a fantastic job of capitalizing on this aspect of the game.  Complementary beer on the sideline (yes, you read that correctly) generally keeps teams around even when they aren’t playing, providing every contest with a fairly large group of good-humored hecklers on the sideline, and the sponsors go all out in their Friday night welcome party.  It’s not uncommon to see teams hanging around the field for an hour after the last game has wrapped up, generously making sure the local brew pup isn’t forced to lift any full kegs back in to their truck.

This year’s edition will take place on the weekend of July 24th through the 26th.  Marin, Olympic Club, Dub C, and West Sunset have all been given top seeds in their pool and are expected to make the semi-finals, but don’t be surprised to see upset runs by Big Foot (who won their pool last year) and the Rocky Mountain Oysters (new to the field this year but stil garnering a 2nd seed behind West Sunset).  Once again the LAS staff will be well represented, and will keep you updated on the action as it unfolds.