What other sport truly has a holiday weekend? Lacrosse is fortunate enough to center our game’s biggest stages around the same few days each year, giving the community one piece of stability it has always longed for. Without the NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four, Division II and III Men’s National Championship, and the Division I Men’s and Women’s National Championship gracing our television sets this weekend, it feels like our lacrosse compass is all out of whack.
We didn’t want to pretend what it would be like to be back in Philly this year, soaking up the rays in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lots in between the best lacrosse action a fan could hope for. Instead, we are sharing our LaxAllStars.com Fan Superlative Awards for Championship Weekend of years past.
Fan Superlative Awards for Championship Weekend
Most likely to pack the lot – Syracuse
There are rules for the Syracuse lacrosse tailgates, men or women. The first is being there. A sea of Orange grows across the open lots like E. coli in a petri dish. Card carrying members of the Syracuse lacrosse community are practically required to be in attendance, should the team(s) make it there. They aren’t the rowdiest bunch, with some standards to be upheld from young to old. It’s a good place to make friends, get fed Gianelli’s sausage right off the grill, and catch a lax celebrity sighting or two.
Most likely to act like they’ve been there – Limestone
Limestone first showed up to championship weekend 20 years ago with their first-ever title win. Since then, they’ve only missed the Final Four one time (2018) and have claimed five titles from their 12 overall appearances in the grand finale. Things are a bit slower down in the Carolinas and although they’re laden with transplants, they still adopt the charm of a group who can “act like you’ve been there.” See you next year? You’re probably already counting on it, Limestone fans.
Most likely to party like it’s Mardi Gras – Mercyhurst
Erie knows how to throw down. I’m not sure what in the water (actually, I kinda do, it’s not good) but, man, I don’t know if these people need to get out more or if they really just love lacrosse, but it quickly becomes “what happens at the tailgate, stays at the tailgate” kind of scenario. Mercyhurst, your 10 year championship reunion is coming up next year. Let’s say we get the whole gang back together in Baltimore for one more hurrah, shall we?
Most likely to bring the coolers of crabs – Salisbury
Fun fact: Salisbury chose its school colors to help hide Old Bay stains on their clothing. Bless the Salisbury tailgates for the seasoned veterans of championship weekend are well prepared to throw down a smorgasbord of East Coast delights. 12 championships from 18 appearances in less than 30 years provides more than enough practice to get the menu down.
Most likely to have the cutest dog sighting – Yale (HANDSOME DAN!)
If he’s going to be the star of the TV if Yale make it to the Final Four, you know the very good boy is the star of parking lot. Yale tailgates are pretty top-notch in a Range Rover sort of way. Whether the scene is for you or not, one thing we can all agree upon is the open door invitation for Handsome Dan to attend any gathering. The most famous pup in college lacrosse plus an alumni base that puts on an absolute show is a great time you better come dressed for.
Most likely to show-out if it’s at M&T – Salisbury & Maryland
These two groups travel pretty well at all times of the year. We’ve seen Gulls supporters fight the Ohio colds for non-conference games in February and swarms of faithful Terps as far as Seattle to support their boys. Yet, when the home state gets the chance to host the ultimate lacrosse holiday weekend, calendars get circled and plans for the water are diverted toward the asphalt wonderland under the bypass of I-395. Maryland flags start to outnumber fans of other teams and every last crabeater with a UMD or Salisbury shirt will stumble through the gathering. In Maryland, lacrosse is king and when their teams are doing well, the support will pour from the woodwork. They roll deep at Foxborough. In Baltimore it’s sheer dominance.
Most likely to have a lax celebrity – Syracuse
The Syracuse lacrosse family is almost entirely unique in our sport. Their knowledge of the history coupled with unconditional love for the game is passed through generations. Anytime the current teams are out throwing the rubber around, the supporters are close behind. When the mass of Orange fans take over Memorial Day weekend, you can be sure to catch some of the greats amongst the crowd. Legends like Paul Gait, Liam Banks and John Zulberti are sure to make their way through the crowds with the rare sighting of a Powell speckled in from year to year.
Most likely to party like it’s 1999(-ish) – Adelphi
Right around 1999 is when it seemed the late 80’s-90’s powerhouse of Adelphi finally peaked. When the NCAA DII Championship returned in 1993, Adelphi claimed first dibs and eventually four more over the next eight seasons, appearing in seven total championships in that span. While there was a bit of a changing of the guard from 1998 to 1999, Adelphi still managed to top C.W. Post for back-to-back titles. Mark Mangan was the DII Player of the Year in ’98, leading the team in goals and assists, before Brian Tower and James Miceli picked up where he left off in ’99. The Panthers captured their last title in 2001 and didn’t appear in the big game until falling short in 2011.
Most likely to run out of red cups – Le Moyne
Like Limestone, it’s pretty easy money to bet Le Moyne will be sniffing around the lots come Memorial Day Weekend. The Dolphins initially showed up in 2004 to claim their first title and secured five of nine victories in the finals until 2016. Regardless of where the team goes and how they’re playing, Le Moyne fans are going to party. Heck, they showed up to Bentley earlier this spring and threw down in the specifically marked “No Tailgating” lot in Massachusetts during February. These people will let nothing stand between lacrosse and the good times. I mean, they are from Syracuse after all.
Most likely to set a new standard – Merrimack
Making the transition to Division I in 2020, Merrimack can’t compete in the postseason until four years have passed. That only gives their fans more time to plan a coming out party for the ages. Merrimack busted onto the scene in 2017, falling short in the title game to Limestone, 11-9. Knowing what to expect, Merrimack turned around and won two consecutive titles on the field and in the parking lot, by large margins. With COVID-19 taking away our chance for a 2020 champion and Merrimack moving up in the ranks, the Warriors will remain the reigning champs another year. The athletic programs are already making waves across all sports at Merrimack, so when it’s time to finally make a playoff run, you can be the tailgates are going to set the bar for what the little guy can do.
Most likely to draw in non-lacrosse fans – Notre Dame
The strength and magnitude of the Notre Dame brand measures far beyond U.S. borders. You can find Irish logos of some sort in nearly all corners of the globe. If Notre Dame is playing over Memorial Day Weekend, you can expect lacrosse novices and university alum popping in just to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame. Just as a Tar Heel will take any chance for a shot at a Blue Devil, or a Buckeye will endlessly taunt a Wolverine, an Irish fan will jump at any opportunity to just be an obnoxious (Catholic optional) Irish fan. Sure, they may not know the leading scorer, the coach’s name, or even what sport they’re watching, but they will always act in full confidence in the name of Notre Dame.
Most likely to burn something down – Wesleyan
2018 was wild, man. The Cards finally got themselves to championship weekend and by golly they came home with the hardware. Some likely very-dinged up hardware unless the SIDs were operating at superhuman levels. This was Wesleyan’s first and only trip to the big hurrah and they surely didn’t waste it. More aluminum bottles passed through the hands of the Wesleyan alumni, parents and friends that afternoon than the Foxborough recycling center was prepared to handle. Act like you’ve been there before? No chance, pal.
Most likely to hustle you out of cash – Stick stringers
*Honorable mention – Knock-off tournament t-shirts
Most likely to have their own “unofficial” fan fest – Universal Lacrosse
Most likely to jack the media spotlight – PLL (previously TLN)
Most likely to wear a jersey of a team not there – Johns Hopkins fans
Most likely to not get the same love but deserve the same platform – Women’s lacrosse
Most likely to feel right at home – Ryan Conwell
Most likely to be too big for college lacrosse games – NFL stadiums
Memorial Day Weekend like a PRO!
If this article has made you strap on the creative thinking helmet and start to brainstorm how you can rise to power in the fan tailgate hierarchy, deals from Adidas, Cabela’s, Wilson, and more have us covered.
I don’t want to blow past the importance Memorial Day acting as one day every year where the United States comes together to honor those were lost while serving the country. On Memorial Day Weekend, we not only celebrate the end of the spring lacrosse season, but it’s more important to honor these men and women together with friends and family, and sometimes strangers. With things looking different in 2020, we are given a little more time to plan out a more extravagant 2021 celebration, or quickly cling together a makeshift kick back now that the sun is coming out and social restrictions are lifting.
Barbecues aren’t going to be as packed as our traditions may call for. Even with social distancing in mind, there’s still ways to make good use of the time.
- Flip on championships from yesteryear
- Dial in the online orders for the goods and to your local supermarket
- Collect the goods
Top Picks for Tailgating Season
First, if you need some backup lacrosse gear, a new set of kicks, or a fresh fit to stunt over MDW, Adidas.com has 50% off all lax gear and up-to half off everything else. Heads as low as $33, gloves at $65. Treat. Yo. Self.
Second, the sausage. Take a not from Syracuse and get yourself some of Gianelli’s finest shipped in the mail, to you, for your grilling pleasures. It’s so good you’ll start hearing the accents. Championship quality meats.
If you’re ready to impress the group with something they don’t have (but should), bring a wooden lacrosse stick or two from Justin Skaggs to the table. Luckily we know right where to get them.
From steaks to wieners, Mr. Steak Grills are a stapled of backyard BBQ setups and tailgates alike. Dad heard “double-walled firebox.” Mom heard “cheap.” From big propane beasts that are going to catch an eye to infrared grills of the future bringing the tailgate into 2021, Mr. Steak will still the show. The name should sell you alone (no, they’re not endorsed by Scott Rodgers, yet).
Keeping the show at home? Cop the family a Fancy Flames Rusted Sheet Metal Fire Bowl with built In wood storage for after sundown. It looks sweet, doesn’t weather, and keeps everything elevated. Staying warm and making s’mores are just the tip of the iceberg.
You can order everything online and have it shipped to your door or pick it up even quicker in-store. The clock is ticking, but your Memorial Day lacrosse party (even if it’s just for one) doesn’t have to suffer.