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Hot Pot Of Lax: Mardi Gras Lacrosse Tournament

This weekend I’ll be heading down to the Mardi Gras Lacrosse Tournament in New Orleans, and I can’t think of a better way to talk about the tournament, the great City of New Orleans, and how NOLA has rebounded from Hurricane Katrina than in this week’s Hot Pot.  Now with Chicory!

Last year the MGLT saw the best weather imaginable, and all of the older gentlemen playing remarked how they hadn’t seen sun and 80 degrees at this tournament in… well… ever.  I even came home to Brooklyn with a tan.  This year we’re looking at mid 60s, some clouds and a slight chance of rain.  For Louisiana in February, that’s still magic!

The Wilson Brothers. Similar to the Hensons.

The tourney is held in City Park again (after a couple years at this other location. not as nice), and it’s simply an amazing place to play.  There are a ton of fields, most of which are in pretty good shape, and you’re surrounded by even more greenery, people running, walking dogs, playing rugby, and of course, lacrosse.  There are also some super poisonous snakes in the creeks that run through the Park, so that’s super cool too.  I always love a brush with danger and death via nature.  It’s only fair, and more prevalent than most of us usually think!  When I was in Australia I almost sat on a black widow spider but was saved by a teammate.  That’s living, baby!

The vibe at the tourney is a great one.  It’s an all day lacrosse party just as the City itself gears up for Mardi Gras.  You can feel a buzz of excitement everywhere, but there isn’t that overwhelming, all-out party atmosphere that true Mardi Gras brings.  So for a lacrosse tourney, it’s perfect.  The opportunity for fun is there, but lacrosse is still a top priority.  And there is beer.  In custom yellow MGLT cups. This is a bonus for some more than others, but it wouldn’t be NOLA without it.

Now New Orleans itself doesn’t exactly need an introduction.  It’s a big time party city.  And it’s a huge tourist destination.  Every few years they host a Super Bowl, Mardi Gras is obviously annual and huge, Jazzfest is annual and unreal, and so are a million other smaller festivals and events, often surrounding music.

But after Katrina hit, the guys who run the tourney could have folded up their tent and been done with it.  It would have been easy.  But they didn’t.   Because these guys all bleed New Orleans, and quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

The tourney is run by members of the New Orleans Lacrosse Club, and the newly formed women’s side does the same for the women’s tourney.  Before the women’s team started, Lauren Schug Wilson (my brother’s wife) ran the lady’s side all be herself.  ALL of them pour their hearts and souls into the event each year.  This is a fact, and it was probably most evident after Katrina hit the City.

A lot of people left New Orleans and never came back.  There were a million different reasons, and personally, I couldn’t argue with any of them.  But the members of the NOLC came back in droves.  And they picked back up where they left off, albeit with a whole new set of challenges.  Because this was their City, and the NOLC and the Mardi Gras Tourney were one of their contributions to its vibrant culture.  These guys felt compelled.  They had a love for NOLA.  And it’s an amazing thing to see in action.

I love the New Orleans LC.  It’s really why I go back to the Mardi Gras Tourney every year.  Sure, the tourney is always fun, and I’ve met a TON of awesome people there.  But the bottom line is that the people on the team put on a great event, they bring you in, and they make you feel like family.  Ok, technically I am family because my brother is on the team, but I’m not the only one who feels this way.  It’s a pretty universal response.  The NOLC crew loves their City, their culture and their way of life, and they want you to cut yourself a big heaping slice.

The Mardi Gras Tourney isn’t just a party or another lacrosse tournament, it’s truly a way of life.

Also, why is my brother so much taller than I am?  Come on, parents!!!!



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