Editor’s Note: In 2017, LaxAllStars.com teamed up with the ground-breaking team at Summit Lax Ventures. We’re on board to put a media spotlight on all of their marquee events. Brian was on location to cover the 2nd annual Lake Placid Youth Summit Classic, after attending the inaugural tournament in 2016.
Tried and true events that we find ourselves drawn back to year after year have to start somewhere. Most of these beginnings are of a humble nature, and the famed lacrosse tournaments held in Lake Placid, New York every summer are no different.
The first year of a tournament can often be rocky and show areas that can be improved upon. A burden is really put on the second year to define the event as to what the to-be loyal returners can come to expect.
The Lake Placid Youth Summit Classic had a brilliant second-year showing this month in Lake Placid, and I’d love to share my experiences with you if you have a few minutes to hear about one of my new favorites.
Honey, I’m Home
I found myself present at the first annual tournament last summer, but I was working in a different capacity. This year, I really had a better opportunity through Lacrosse All Stars to get out and talk to as many people as possible. Wearing a different hat, my goal was to understand what made this tournament different.
To walk around the North Elba Athletic fields, you immediately can feel that this is a storied ground. You somehow just know that these fields have seen hundreds and hundreds of lacrosse games, and quite few contests of any other sport. Driving in from the road, there are signs with arrows directing the players and their families from all over the East Coast.
It’s really the last touch that lets them know they’re home. There’s a brown and yellow street sign, as is customary throughout the Adirondack region, that boldly reads LACROSSE FIELDS WAY.
I’m guessing not EVERYONE saw this sign, but when I saw that it made me smile. This subtle street sign is just another gleaming example of the love that the town of Lake Placid has for the lacrosse community.
No Shortage of Future All-Stars
There was excellent lacrosse to watch all day long. The best Northeastern talent from the classes of 2029 through 2021 were on display.
The 7th/8th grade division was the oldest offering, as this was purely a fun tournament held for the next generations of players. Like the 5th/6th grade side, the two divisions were split into ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ classifications so that teams could play in schedules appropriate to their skill level.
I won’t go through the entire tournament, but I will talk briefly about the championships at the two 7th/8th grade divisions. The four teams competing in the championships played at an extremely high caliber. Until I looked on the schedule, I was certain that I was watching ninth and tenth graders playing some pretty serious ball.
I guess I’m always impressed with the new wave of players and what they can accomplish. To watch these two games reaffirmed my belief that the best lacrosse players we’ve ever seen are playing youth lacrosse right now.
Keeping It Local
Ithaca and Eclipse played for the ‘Gold’ division championship. This was a repeat game from the very first game of the tournament for these two teams. Ithaca (NY) won the original matchup, but Eclipse had battled back to earn their way to the championship to try and win the rematch.
One of the very few remaining local teams, Ithaca sticks to their roots in a market that sees more and more clubs populating tournament schedules. The Little Red led almost the entire game over the Connecticut-based club, and despite valiant efforts and small bursts of momentum, Ithaca refused to let Eclipse come back.
Seeing a local team from a very small town able to repeatedly field quality teams with even better kids is always a pleasure.
It makes you really wonder what’s in the water. What do these dedicated coaches teach their kids that everyone else is missing?
Cuse Versus Cuse
The ‘silver’ championship again pitted a club program against another scholastic program. The Syracuse-area club aptly named the Orange Crush would take on Baldwinsville in a cross-town rivalry.
Baldwinsville enjoyed a very successful season including a great post season run into the state championship semi-finals.
This all-section three matchup between players who have likely been opponents before proved to be an amazing competition.
However, there were plenty of good games, but this one stood out as one of the best displays of sportsmanship. As regulation expired in a tie game, and as the first overtime did the same, coaches were audibly joking and talking to opposing benches.
It was ever-apparent that coaches on both sidelines got the big picture. This was fun. They were having fun. The kids were working hard, and they were having fun too.
The game ended up an Orange Crush victory shortly into the second overtime. A sudden-death goal was scored in a broken type play and that was all she wrote. Great play all around was evident in not just the championships of the oldest division, but from the top on down including all the different age groups and all teams who participated in them.
Artists Painting a Mural
That was my main takeaway from this event. There’s a bigger picture. I’m not sure where exactly. I do know that if these Syracuse based teams wanted to stay in ‘Cuse and play a tournament closer to home this past weekend, they could have. The Long Island teams certainly could have stayed home and played somewhere local.
These teams CHOSE to drive for hours to get to Lake Placid. Why? Because it is something bigger than just a lacrosse tournament.
All of our Lacrosse All Stars guys stayed in the Hotel North Woods right in the center of town. From our hotel, nothing was more than a five minute walk. In those five minutes, or less, of walking, it was impossible not to see the town alive with little lacrosse players.
The lobby was flooded with the Edge Lacrosse kids from Ontario, and I’d make a hefty wager that the pool table and ping pong tables weren’t abandoned for more than a minute at any point throughout the tournament.
We took a trip out to the KOA to see the cabin my father was staying at one night. The campground was a mob scene with what must have been one hundred Buffalo Lacrosse Academy kids running around with their sticks. The parents had rented 75 or so campsites and were hosting a massive barbecue. The mini golf course was overrun with kids of all ages.
You couldn’t look in any one direction and not see lacrosse kids having a blast. I had an excellent childhood, but this club-wide barbecue really looked like something special. The fun every family looked to be having almost made me envious. I can’t stress enough, Lake Placid is always an excellent time.
Breathe in the Air
I walked across the street from my hotel every morning for a cup and a sandwich. This neat little café had a balcony that looked over Mirror Lake. While I was waiting for my sandwich to come out, I would look out over the water.
Without fail, if the sun was up, there were at least a dozen kids on the water in any number of capacities. Some were in canoes, others taking turns on rented paddleboards or kayaks. Some just swam while they waited their turns. Water wars were commonplace and complaining was at an all-time low.
There’s no shot all of these kids were all on the same lacrosse team. There were wild packs of children coming and going at any given time. While it looked like just some early morning recreation, what I really saw was the next batch of Lake Placid fanatics falling in love. This relationship is not just with the event, or lacrosse, it’s the bigger picture they were falling in love with. Odds are, they don’t even know it yet.
Coming Full Circle
Walking around the fields, I saw familiar faces from the Lake Placid Summit Classic. Some were coaching club teams, and some were just there to watch their sons play. The next generation of Lake Placid lacrosse players aren’t in diapers anymore. They haven’t been for a while.
In August, you can see two, sometimes three generations of players from the same family take the field in the same day. This week’s youth tournament was just for the youngest of our new players. By design, this tournament is smaller in scope and in numbers, so that a quality experience could be had by all.
When Summit Lacrosse Ventures offers a new tournament, they aren’t going after new markets or trying radical new strategies. Summit’s dedication to quality has led them on a path of offering new opportunities to the lacrosse players they already serve.
When the Classic became the size it is now, SLV realized that it was almost impossible to squeeze a new team in. To keep sharing the experience, new offerings must be made available so that everyone can enjoy the experience.
With 250+ teams across age brackets that range from six to sixty-plus, SLV decided to offer this youth tournament so that a fun, quality event was accessible to any lacrosse player and his teammates who wanted to share in the Lake Placid lacrosse experience.
Guess what? It worked! For two-straight years the event went off without a hitch. You’ve never heard so few complaints at a youth lacrosse event in your life. Everyone was glad to be where they were, playing the game they love, surrounded by like-minded people. If you can still find something to complain about, please don’t come to Lake Placid.
For the Rest of You
If you found yourself smiling, nodding your head in agreement, or thinking that this sounds better than everything else you did this summer, I invite you to meet me at the 2018 Lake Placid Youth Summit Classic next June. Dads, come a few days early and get in on the action yourself at the High Peaks Summit Classic!
Save the showcases for another Saturday. Leave the stress behind and head for the Adirondacks. It’s some of the best youth lacrosse you’re going to stumble upon, with the least amount of tension. It meant a lot to our team to be a part of such a special weekend.
The values on display are exactly in-line with what Lacrosse All Stars is built upon. We hope every last lacrosse player can find the opportunity to experience something so pure, so perfect for the game.