Editor’s Note: LaxAllStars will be on the hallowed grounds of Lake Placid this week for the 2017 Lake Placid Summit Youth Classic. This is Brian’s second year involved with the event, our first as a Summit Lax Ventures partner, and we stoked to be a part of the history!
I would venture a guess that if I put the opening lines from all of my articles next to each other, there would be an almost comical correlation of most of them starting with a sentence expressing happy thoughts about the growth of lacrosse. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Domestically and abroad, lacrosse is barreling into new markets and neighborhoods. The light is shining through for hundreds and hundreds of new players every year.
There are new teams and leagues popping up all over the world. States are sanctioning the sport officially. Non-profit projects are getting sticks into towns and villages that don’t have internet access or reliable electricity. This is amazing.
Tried and True
This article isn’t about the new and the adventurous. It’s about an event that’s taking a step back and bringing it to basics. It’s easy to get caught up with the flashy and exciting. But, it really is a disciplined decision to look at the tower you’re building ever-upwards and make sure the foundation is still healthy and stable.
The Lake Placid Summit Youth Classic will take place this coming Monday through Wednesday (June 26-28, 2017). This will be the second annual running of the youth specific tournament, coming back to reclaim it’s straight-A report card from the inaugural run.
The Lake Placid Classic that comes at the end of every summer for the past 27 years is the famed tournament that instantly comes to mind when you hear “lacrosse in Lake Placid.” This tournament is a much different product.
The Lake Placid Summit Youth Classic was fine-tuned to focus on the principles of quality, accessibility, and the most basic purpose that often proves elusive: to have fun.
The words “quality, accessibility, and fun” aren’t by any means new or revolutionary, but it’s important to talk about exactly what’s being done differently with these key words in mind versus the myriad of other youth tournaments that are out there that also provide quality, accessible, and fun atmospheres.
Keeping It Quality
Quality is a big focus with Summit Lacrosse Ventures (SLV), the company we have to thank for the Lake Placid Classic for the past 27 years. As events get bigger and bigger, you need to add locations or stretch resources thin to accommodate the ever-growing number of participants.
This often times includes shortening games, making fields smaller to add playing surfaces, or flinging teams all over the county to other facilities. SLV took full notice of their Placid Classic getting close to the threshold. The tipping point eventually comes where they might lose some level of quality that had built the cult following over the past three decades.
Instead of subtracting, SLV added. Instead of compromising the quality of officials and game play, this new event ensures an experience where it’s most important; with our youth players. Full fields will be policed by the best officials in the business. We’re talking a mix of MLL, NCAA, and other highly experienced men in stripes. Game will be lengthy, without being too long and taxing the bodies of the players too strenuously.
Accessible for Everyone
SLV has almost a three-decade history of ensuring top quality play. When you’ve got the best product in town (or the world), not everyone will have access to events when there are limited spots for teams. Providing accessibility to the best quality tournament possible is imperative.
With over 250 teams attending the Placid Classic in late July/Early August every year across a dozen or more divisions, there are still many who aren’t able to attend. The tournament simply can’t ensure quality if they accept any more teams.
By opening this new tournament last year, teams that hadn’t been able to secure a spot for years were now able to share in the Lake Placid experience. Droves of families were coming to town for the first time. Kids and families were having their pictures taken with the iconic ski jumps in the background as they had seen all their friends doing for years.
Last year, a Dad asked me for directions into town, and I obliged. It struck me shortly after that I had never given directions into town. Why? Because nobody had needed them for years and years.
The Placid faithful come back perennially, and the additions of the Lake Placid Youth Summit Classic, as well as the post-collegiate focused High Peaks Summit Classic, are amazing opportunities to welcome new friends and acquaintances into the Lake Placid lacrosse family.
Go Fun or Go Home
Why would anyone really want to drive to the most beautiful region of New York, to play a game they love, with friends they care about? Because it’s fun, and that’s pretty simple.
As simple as it might sound, fun has occasionally been forgotten from the equation as the game has grown. Showcase events and monstrous tournaments that are run more like machines in a factory can have so much inherent stress. That, in turn, stress me out, and that’s never good. It’s not unheard of to see red-faced coaches, crying kids, or parents with scowls only half hidden behind their sunglasses. The summer circuit can be a grind, whereas it should be the most fun time to play the game!
Is it the season where the developing youth player should get better and try to improve his or her play for the following Spring? Of course it is! Is it also not the time when that malleable, young psyche is supposed to fall in love with the game? I would argue that it is.
If You Do One Thing
I do hope this article reaches some parents and players before the Youth Classic starts Monday. Players, I would implore you to play your heart out with a smile on your face over these coming three days. When you’re out of gas, the schedule has run it’s course and out of games to be played, have a seat in the grass.
Kick your shoes off and let those rancid toes breathe. Look over at those ski jumps. Watch clouds whip by, as they move in Lake Placid skies like nowhere else. Appreciate what your family has done for you by bringing you up here. Win, lose, or come what may, you’ve been a part of something special… and something FUN!
We Believe This, We’re Here Too!
Summit Lacrosse Ventures is employing their decades of knowledge and operations experience to bring to you a quality, accessible, and fun event by going back to the very basics. I know you’re going to enjoy yourself. This is an amazing town with an amazing history. The history of the Lake Placid Lacrosse family is something special and I won’t say another word about it. You really can’t, nor won’t, understand it until you’ve been a part of it.
We’ll see you up in Placid. Come say hi! If lacrosse and soaking in the scenery isn’t enough, I put together the 10 things you should be doing while in Lake Placid.