Summer tournament series have slowly come to a close as current college students head back to campus and graduates stop taking as much vacation time. Sure, Hawaii, Jamaica and other tourneys are still coming down the pipeline over the fall and winter, but the busiest part of the big tournament schedule is wrapping up.
Over the last 2 or 3 weekends well-known and long-running tournaments like the Ocean City Classic and Lake Placid have come and gone, and they’ve received decent coverage on various lax websites. Lacrosse All Stars is taking a different path in this post: we’re going to talk about a different kind of tournament, one with a different end goal.
The idea behind the Citylax Summer Shootout wasn’t to see who the best team was, nor was it to play as many games as possible. The idea was to get out to the Hamptons, play a little lacrosse and raise some money for a really good, 100% lacrosse-related cause: Citylax. In the end, all three goals were accomplished and the first year event went off without a hitch.
Citylax is a not-for-profit located in NYC that is trying to grow the game of lacrosse in the City of New York, focusing on spreading the game at the public school level. In only 5 years, at least 6 new high schools have not only picked up the sport but also progressed from club teams to full-fledged varsity programs.
Anyone who has been involved with starting a new high school lacrosse team knows just how impressive this is. When you combine the already challenging nature of starting a new team with the fact that this is taking place primarily in historically under-served areas like Harlem, Long Island City, Queens and the Bronx with kids who, for the most part, have never even heard of lacrosse, the true difficulty of Citylax’s goal quickly comes to light. The fact that the organizers, Mat Levine and Armando Taddei, and the numerous volunteers do everything with a smile on their faces is a real testament to their belief in the program’s importance and potential. I have volunteered with Citylax before and always come out of the free, pre-season skill sessions feeling better about myself, the future and my fellow man than when I went in.
The Citylax Summer Shootout was really a unique event in the lacrosse world for a couple of reasons:
1) A lot of the teams entered to play were alumni teams. Brown, Columbia (Club), Harvard and UVa all entered alumni teams with some serious firepower.
2) There were no playoffs, no second day and no Champion. The idea was just to go out and play some lacrosse for a good cause and because you wanted to.
3) The event was located away from a major lacrosse hotbed, out on the East End of Long Island in Southampton at the local public HS. While lacrosse on LI is HUGE in general, it has lagged out East to some degree so getting 8 full teams out there at the end of the summer was an impressive feat.
4) There was an air of mutual respect and fun to the tournament because of point number 2 that I have rarely, if ever, seen at a lacrosse tournament.
Usually when you have a bunch of serious players together tempers flare but everyone really seemed to keep the idea of charity in the front of their minds all day so the play was really clean but also of the highest quality. There were some unbelievable saves, goals, checks and passes all day long and the good natured feeling of the day only seemed to encourage creativity and team play.
Along with UVa, Brown, Harvard and Columbia, Citylax entered two teams and a club called Anytown was present, comprised of mostly current college players from Yale, UPenn, Hopkins, Penn State and Princeton. The final team entered in the tournament was the Southampton Brewery Lacrosse Club that yours truly played for, which is made up of mostly Hobart graduates. We beat both of the Citylax teams and then played a Brown Alumni team in the last game of the day. After a 2-2 first half score, the game opened up and finished all tied up at 8. The refs walked off the field seemingly suffering from heat or lacrosse exhaustion, and it looked like the day would end with a tie. However, 2 others volunteered to finish up the game and about 2 minutes into the extra period one of the Brown middies won it with a low-to-low shot on the run.
Brown finished up at the top of the ladder on our side of the bracket with a perfect 3-0-0 record. I believe that we at Southampton are still claiming our weekend record to be 2-0-1 as the refs from our game called it a tie when they staggered off the field in search of water. Semantics.
The UVa alums looked excellent all day with a lot of big, recognizable names on the squad like Ghitelman, Ward, etc… At times, one wondered if the UVa guys knew how to NOT throw behind the back passes and take b.t.b. shots because there were an awfully lot of them… and most were executed to perfection.
There were also 3 recent HS grads that came up through the Citylax program playing in the tourney. 2 of them are headed off to college next year and the third will be doing a PG year at a prep school. All will be playing lacrosse and have a lot of potential both on and off the field.
All in all it was an excellent event that benefited a great group of kids in a fantastic program run by some great guys. All that and a ton of sweet, sweet lax? Honestly, what more can you ask for?