Why do high school lacrosse teams from across the country travel to Vail, Colorado, each year? To seek out achievement at 8,150 feet elevation and many more reasons. The event draws over 2,000 players and 3,000 spectators to the Vail Valley every summer.
The Vail Lacrosse Tournament has something for everyone. For me, this is where I got my first-ever taste of interstate competition. Trips to Vail as a youngster gave me the chance to test out my footwork against top high school prospects and make new lifelong friends. I also learned invaluable leadership skills and, thanks to the hundreds of hill runs our coach put us through in preparation for Vail, discovered a new work ethic in veins.
Today the tournament fields around one hundred teams at the 4th/5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grade and high school levels. One of few high-altitude tournaments of its kind, the event still draws teams from every corner of the United States and the competition seems to have only gotten better. Players love taking in the gorgeous scenery of Vail while taking advantage of all the activities available in the area.
The tournament features a round-robin format and divisional playoffs with trophies presented per division. Games are held in Vail, Eagle-Vail, Avon, and Edwards. Many teams extend their trip to participate in the Denver Shootout, which precedes the Vail tournament. And of course, many families stay put afterward as parents participate at the Vail Shootout.
Creating an event that teams want to attend year-after-year is quite the achievement! The Vail Lacrosse Tournament laid down its roots in Vail in 1995, just as the growth of lacrosse in Colorado was starting to pick-up momentum. Here’s Vail Lacrosse Tournament director Kristen Cooley on how the event has evolved and grown to where it is today:
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