There isn’t anything on the planet quite like the sensation of “I’m getting my butt handed to me in Vegas,” which feels like getting pulled over for a speeding ticket, but for an entire weekend. – Bill Simmons, Thrown to the mat in Vegas
Last week, we left you in suspense about the Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase. We intended to provide some more coverage throughout the weekend, but upon arriving in Las Vegas, we instantly realized this was not going to be the type of tournament we could successfully cover in real-time if we wanted to get the full experience.
We needed to truly experience everything the Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase had to offer. Today I’m here to tell you that we did just that.
Thanks to our awesome hosts, Neil and Cassie from Vitality Lacrosse, LaxAllStars.com had unrestricted access to the entire event. We took game photos from MCLA match-ups and all the Bigfoot Lax All Stars games. We got video interviews with Brett Hughes, Zack Greer, Neil Butterfield (Tournament Director), and Arizona’s long-time head coach Mickey-Miles Felton. And most importantly, we had a fantastic time doing it.
Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase – Day 1
We arrived in Las Vegas on Friday at noon. Forty-five minutes later, we were at the Budget rental car desk negotiating for a full-size SUV. Sometimes it pays to wait until you arrive. We got hooked up with a gutless Chevy Traverse, rear-view camera and all.
By 1:30pm we were on the road to Kellogg Zaher Park where the event was being held. We dropped off LaxAllStars.com sticker packs at the event check-in table, walked around the venue (top-notch!), and then it was time for us to go check into our rooms at Rumor Las Vegas.
Rumor Las Vegas was an affordable and comfortable place to stay, so I’m glad we got the recommendation from Jonny B rather than setting our own reservations up. (Thanks JB!)
After a couple hours of lying low at the hotel, it was time to head back out to the fields for the Bigfoot Lax All Stars’ first game against Division, a team out of Aspen, CO. It was a little a chilly outside, which we did not expect in Vegas, but the bright lights shining over all 11 fields helped get us in the mood to lax it up on a Friday night.
By 7:45pm, the Bigfoot Lax All Stars had won their first game in a close one against Division. None of us had ever played together before and the lack of team chemistry was noticeable at the start, but by the end there were a few exciting sparks.
I think having Brian Silcott and Anthony Kelly on our team helped us get in sync faster than expected. Not only are those guys truly talented, but they are also two of the most friendly professional lacrosse players I’ve ever met, and their demeanor helped bring our squad together quickly.
Post-game, we mashed down Subway sandwiches, met up with Dan Helfrich who flew in late Friday night, and then headed out to a club at the Luxor called Cathouse where Jonny B had a table lined up. It was a smart decision to go the table route on our first night because it brought 10 or so of our teammates together for the first time. However, I can’t say everyone kept their smarts after our bottle service arrived.
Needless to say, Friday night quickly turned into Saturday morning for a few members of our team. But hey, that’s Las Vegas for you. The nightlife is an important aspect of this tournament and really sets it apart from all others. Lucky for us, Saturday’s first game wasn’t until 11:30am.
Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase – Day 2
Day 2 began with an 8:00am wake-up call to the six LaxAllStars.com representatives in our group. I can’t say Rory and Dave were thrilled about waking up early, but I can say they were very helpful throughout the day on Saturday once they had overcome their personal battles. After snagging coffee and bagels at the Bagel Cafe next to Kellogg Zaher Park, we arrived at the fields around 10am ready to take in some of the MCLA college lacrosse games that morning.
By 11:15am, it was time to strap up for our game against South Bay, a team out of Los Angeles, CA. Eye black and 5-hour Energy was a necessity for most of our players, and I have no doubt the latter was consumed by most players in the Men’s Elite bracket all weekend long.
The Bigfoot Lax All Stars tore it up at the beginning of the game against South Bay, but somehow let it slip going into half. Ball control was non-existent and transition play from South Bay caused a few problems, resulting in an 8-6 (?) loss. The loss was a bummer, but not a show stopper as the tournament was double-elimination – we still had a chance to make a run for the ‘ship.
Our next game would be at 4:30pm against the Salt Shakerz, reigning tournament champions out of New York. In the meantime, the LAS guys hit the fields to take photos and pass out LAS stickers and GTG laces to whoever would listen. We got some great photos and videos of players repping LAS and supporting the Grow The Game movement.
One big highlight of the day was finally meeting Mickey-Miles Felton, Head Coach of the Arizona Laxcats. Coach Felton has been involved with the Arizona men’s lacrosse program for over 30 years, and he’s also one of the founders of the MCLA portion of the tournament. A great guy with a big heart dedicated 110% to the growth of the game, he’s also known to rock some pretty cool footwear on the sidelines.
Another highlight? Listening in on the high school clinics put on by Zack Greer, Jason Lamb (Adams State), Brett Hughes and Mike Brand (Brown University).
Prior to our game against the Salt Shakerz, I got some time to meet and hang out with Brett Hughes, former UVa All-American and current LXM PRO player, who had driven out to Vegas from LA that morning. Brett and I had been in contact for the past couple of years, but we’d never met in person, so it was nice for each of us to finally put a face to a name. What’s more, it was great to have him on our roster and an honor to step on the same field as him for our afternoon game.
We took the field around 4:15pm to get our legs moving and get used to a grass field, which surprisingly many of our players hadn’t played on in years. The game against the Salt Shakers started off nicely, but quickly spurred out of hand in their favor. By half-time, the Bigfoot Lax All Stars were up in arms with the officials and the thought of losing two games in a row made me sicker than Rory Baldini felt on Saturday morning.
Luckily for us, we were able to collect ourselves at halftime a bit and we entered the second half determined to fight out a win. I think it’s fair to say we came out swinging harder than Pacquiao did later that night. What resulted was a 10-8 win and the opportunity to immediately play one more game against the Xiphos out of California.
According to the Salt Shakerz Twitter account, Matt Hickman and Corey Vallaincourt were Shakerz Co-MVPs for the game. Meanwhile, the Bigfoot Lax All Stars silently tagged Brett Hughes and a couple of unassuming Idaho Vandals as their top performers.
Playing a 3rd game was a heavy thought, but we had to do it. Not to mention the Oregon vs. Stanford game was on TV – there were a few Bigfoot Lax All Stars players streaming the play-by-play on the sidelines.
We took the field against the speedy Xiphos and it was an exciting game all around. There was some serious talent on the field. Back-and-forth for the most part, but the Xiphos came out ahead when it mattered most thanks to outstanding play from their goalie, Zack Greer and a guy with a Dos Equis helmet on. Final score? Something like 9-6, Xiphos. Great game.
The Xiphos would move on to play in the semi-finals against South Bay on Sunday. The Bigfoot Lax All Stars were done and ready to focus on the other half of the their Vegas vacation – gambling or dancing to house music, perhaps?
A couple of hours later and we were in Suite 3357 at the Cosmopolitan’s West Tower, watching the water show from our view of the strip and taking in some tournament-wide fun with the other Adult teams in attendance. After the Cosmo pre-party, a party bus transported everyone to the Rok at New York New York for further debauchery. All-in-all a great night, just ask Will DeSiervo!
Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase – Day 3
Day three started out very much the same as Day 2. The guys behind the counter at Bagel Cafe were thrilled to see Krieg Shaw again, making sure to get his order just right! Jalapeño bagel anyone?
We arrived at the fields around 10:45am, ready to watch the second half of the Xiphos vs. South Bay Men’s Elite semifinal game. The Xiphos won 10-2, putting them in the Championship against Twisted Steel.
In between games, Josh Rottman, Krieg, and I met up with Zack Greer to do a little filming. You’ll have to stay tuned for the video we’re making, but what I will tell you is that Greer was a great guy to work with – an all around class act. It was fun to get to know him a bit and discuss what he’s been up to lately. We also did a video interview, which we’ll be posting later this week.
Next up was the Championship game between Twisted Steel and the Xiphos.
Twisted Steel overcame the Xiphos 9-5. While Twisted Steel obviously put in more goals, these two teams were very much equal. Both had some outstanding talent on their squads, and many of us thought the game could have gone either way. It made for an exciting Championship game to watch.
In the end, it must have been the sex appeal that won the tournament for Twisted Steel…
Following the title game, we hung out at the field for another hour or so, taking in every last bit of the tournament and talking with the tourney staffers about this year vs. last and where they think the Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase is headed from here. I won’t give away too much as we’ve got a full Tournament Review coming your way later this week along with an interview with Neil Butterfield, tourney director.
Next, we headed to In-N-Out for our second double-double of the trip. As Dave Ogle said, “this is exactly what my mustache needed after an epic weekend of lacrosse.”
After In-N-Out, it was time to head back to the hotel to collect our bags and hustle to the LAS Vegas Airport. Just as I thought I’d get some time to decompress on the flight home, we get on a plane full of high school players who are on their way back from the Sun Devil Sizzler in Phoenix. They recognized us as lacrosse players and started quizzing us on our tournament.
Our answer? “What happens in Vegas…”