If you have ever played, covered, or coached in the MCLA, then you know a thing or two about the way its national tournament is set up.
Inside the MCLA National Tournament
Thirty-two teams, 16 from each of the two divisions, ascend on MCLA Mount Olympus to duke it out for seven days until one team remains unbeaten. A festival-like atmosphere, it is an experience like no other with 25 to 30 of your best friends.
The MCLA National Tournament is not just the crowning of a national champion but an experience for each team down to the individual participant. Imagine March Madness condensed into seven days, a production even its NCAA counterpart is no rival to. More than 30 games will be played over the course of six days through both divisions, each one live streamed with color commentary online.
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Like the NCAA, the MCLA national championship is held in different cities every year. It may not bring in the high number of spectators in person or online, but it brings a different kind of magic. All fans are welcomed to the sidelines to cheer on their teams at this festival and are able to spectate more than their fair share of lacrosse. Like any lacrosse showcase, in person and online spectators are not just blessed with one game, but up to four at any given time. That’s a lot of lacrosse!
What is this experience really like for the players? Teams converge on the host city and are on a non-stop adrenaline high once they arrive. With goodie bags provided by tournament sponsors, player press conference coverage, and a player experience tent, the experience does not start or end with the field. Let’s take a look at the day-by-day breakdown.
Day 1: Arrival
Day one is check-in and practice day. Teams arrive in the host city before this day, but day one is when the experience begins. Pulling up in team busses or vans, teams are greeted by tournament hosts with goodie bags of small goodies that will make the experience better – these goodies range year by year but include credentialed lanyards that tell the staff you are here to play. After stepping off the transportation, teams are directed to their practice field where they run free on fresh Bermuda grass and walk through prep and game plans versus their first opponent. This open space is full of mean mugs and chirps, as opposing teams are also practicing at this time and others are walking through the championship grounds – your fist look eyeing down the competition.
Day 2: Opening Round
Day two brings on 14 high-powered games: one division slated for early afternoon slots, another later in the evening. Nothing says the tournament is on like the opening day of play. Emotions are running high and electricity even higher. Within the four staggered times slots of game, there are four games going on at any given time. With every goal, the PA announcer updates the entire pavilion with updates and scores. After your game, high performers are invited to the press tent, where they are given the opportunity to participate in a press conference set to be aired on the tournament streaming platform for spectators at home to watch. If your team has just won, you move to the quarter finals. If you’ve lost, you move to a consolation game for end seeding of the tournament.
Day 3: Quarter Finals
Day three brings in the remaining seeds for another round of simultaneous games: eight games and 16 teams split between two divisions competing for supremacy. Stakes are higher and nerves are high. This day of games historically brings in the best match ups and highest competition. Each game this day is followed by another round of press conferences after each contest for coaches and players to participate in. Winning teams off to the semifinals, while losing teams head home.
Day 4: Recovery and prep
Day four brings a much-needed rest and recovery day for the remaining participants before moving on to the championship rounds. On this day, teams study film and game plan for their semifinal matchup. It is every team’s opportunity to heal and prepare.
Day 5: SemiFinals
Semifinals day moves teams from the tournament group pay fields to the main event stadium! Time to knuckle up for a fight, winners head to the championship game. Arrival brings you to your team locker room where you suit up and ready your heads. Fight on; winners to the championship game, losers – good luck next year!
Day 6: R&R, Prep, Banquet
Day six brings on another day of rest and relaxation, this time filled with championship game prep, film, walk throughs, and ice and STEM. What you do today sets you up for success tomorrow! In the evening, the final four teams (two in both divisions) head to dinner, where they are greeted with one last feast before game day. Here, league and tournament awards are announced and handed out.
Day 7: The Big Dance
There is not much to say here other than you better bring your A-game. Championship day. You win here, then at the end of the day you’re hoisting that trophy and going down in MCLA history. #RingSzn.
There is not much to say other than it is a different kind of experience for everyone. You probably won’t find the NCAA moving to this format, as it is more of a consumer experience with more money involved, but it sure would bring in another type of excitement. At the end of the day, teams in the MCLA fight for this week, this experience, at the end to a long season topped off by the longest, yet most exciting weeks of their seasons or careers.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 in 2021, there will be a modified “invitational” tournament to house eight teams in both divisions, 16 in total. The modified and abbreviated tournament will still be an experience for all invited. To learn more about the abbreviated tournament in Round Rock, Texas, you can visit the MCLA website.
For more MCLA content from Ronnie Fernando, check out his previous post about how the MCLA is an amazing option for the right people.