LaxAllStars has recently reached an agreement with local Utah news organization Utah Lacrosse News to take over the operations of the site. ULN will still be owned by its owner Prodigy Media, but will pay a service fee to LaxAllStars to manage the site and its content.
Both Utah Lacrosse News and LaxAllStars are excited about this announcement. Lacrosse All Stars looks forward to expanding their United States national coverage, especially in a growing hotbed such as Utah. With the University of Utah men’s lacrosse team having officially moved to the NCAA Division I ranks, in addition to high school sanctioning taking place for the 2019-2020 season, LaxAllStars is excited to be at the forefront of the Western expansion of lacrosse.
Last year’s Editor of Utah Lacrosse News and current Digital Editor of LaxAllStars, Matt Anderson, recently sat down with ULN founder Tim Haslam to talk about the beginning stages of ULN and what excites him about the deal with LaxAllStars. A transcript of the interview is below.
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Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Matt Anderson: What is your work and education background?
Tim Haslam: I went to Highland High School in Salt Lake and then went to the University of Utah. I got a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a minor in anthropology. I am a full-time web developer.
MA: When was ULN started?
TH: Our first official season was the spring of 2011. In the spring of 2010, I was freelancing for a website called CollegeLax. CollegeLax covered the MCLA and was the source for MCLA lacrosse fans. I was writing a column covering the University of Utah team and Westminster, because they were still part of the MCLA at that point. If they had a game, I would go and submit a recap to CollegeLax. At the end of that season, the national championships were in Denver, and I wrote to the owner of CollegeLax and asked if I could go out and cover the last two days. I flew out there with my brother, who is a photographer, and we covered the national championships that year. The week after that I got home, and CollegeLax called and asked if I wanted to be the news editor and cover the news portion of the site. I started to do that that summer, and I realized that model could be localized. The internet is an interesting thing in that I can expand from local to national, and then to international. I was getting viewers in China. But then there’s this interesting thing where with social media it starts to become localized again. So, I figured I could take the model of CollegeLax and make it work on a local level. Lacrosse in Utah had obviously exploded at that point. We had successful club teams at the college level and successful travel teams. So, in the fall of 2010 I built the site and in the spring of 2011 was our first official year.
MA: What were the first few years like as you grew the organization?
TH: The first few years were awesome. We had a ton of support from everyone. There were a few people who didn’t quite grasp what we were trying to do, but that was OK. For the most part, people loved it. It kind of just had this grassroots moment. I can’t remember if we got involved with Prodigy that first year or second year, but we had the play of the week and then play of the year. That was a big feature on the site. That was a lot of the growth. We had the first coaches poll in the state for both the girls and the boys. So, that was a big deal. For that first year, I went to a game everyday after work. I think at one point I counted that I had been to 53 games in three months. It was lots of lacrosse and travel on my cars. My wife was working a noon-to-nine, and so I would’ve just gone home and watched TV probably. There were lots of guys that loved lacrosse, but loved writing as well. They would submit recaps in those first few years. We just started to kind of work our way through it. The lacrosse shops Face-Off Lax and Tribal West were really supportive of it. It was a fun time and would do it all over again if I could.
MA: Who were some of the key contributors that played a role in getting ULN off the ground?
TH: Ava Nebeker at Face-off Lax and Fish over at Tribal West kind of bought into the vision early and supported me through financial contributions and trades we could do. Those two were big. Obviously my brother, going out and taking pictures. Before I started ULN, I coached. I coached at Cottonwood for a year. Three of the Cottonwood players who were Ben and Sean Zuckerman, and Fernando Lara, helped with the site as well. They had since graduated from high school. The Zuckerman brothers were both in the mass communications department and Fernando was doing video for Prodigy. Those first few years people just came out of the woodwork and saw what the site was and wanted to contribute. We’ve had 10-15 people throughout the years who have all contributed.
MA: What are some of your most memorable moments from running ULN?
TH: I have a lot. One is the fact that I have been to every championship game since the spring of 2011. That streak continues. I know that there are going to be people reading this and saying that, ‘Well I’ve been to every championship game as well.’ But I’m talking every championship game including Division II girls, Division I girls, Division II boys, Class C boys. I think only maybe Niki Harding can also claim that fact. So I’m proud of that. I also remember there was a game I went to that I covered at Judge when Dave Allen was the coach. The week prior his son had been kicked off the team. He was doing extracurriculars that weren’t in line with the code of conduct at Judge. I don’t know about you, but kicking your own kid off the team would be extremely tough. That first game when those guys were kicked off, Coach Allen was super emotional after the game. That always stuck out to me, and is something I respected a lot because he did the right thing. Another thing I remember well is Coach Freeman down at Lehi. He coached the boys team for awhile, which is where you get the Garrett Bolles story. And then he went and coached the girls team. I think there are very few people who would do that. He went to the championships with both teams, and ended up losing with both teams. Just the emotion that he had, when he finally got a championship with the girls team and to see the roller coaster that he went through was great. But the best memories are the guys that are still out there. Making friends with all of the people out there like Craig Morris, all of the college coaches like Brae Burbidge, Brian Barnhill and Renee Tribe, and just all of the people who just ultimately love lacrosse. The other memory I have is a game at Alta that went into four overtimes. I just remember there was a kid named McKay Dunn, who was an Alta midfielder that finally scored the game winner and everyone was just exhausted. Everyone was just excited the game was over.
MA: What do you think of the new move of LAS taking over ULN?
TH: I met the Lacrosse All Stars guys down at the LXM Pro Tour one year. It’s funny that it’s kind of come full circle that way. They have a unique vision for media and how it works in the lacrosse world. They’re pretty adamant about not doing some of the traditional things that are out there. They’re respected in the lacrosse industry. The other thing, too, is that they’re a West Coast company and is something they’re proud of. We won’t get into why Boise thinks they’re part of the Pacific Northwest when they’re in the Rockies, but the move makes sense. I think Jeff and Connor have done a great job in running LaxAllStars. I think working with Rick and yourself is something good that will make ULN bigger and is obviously a good thing.
MA: What is one thing that you hope consumers will get out of ULN?
TH: I think that things that I liked about running ULN was providing a spot to go for people to read about the sport. When I was growing up, there was a site called UHSLL.org. There was a writer on there who would get on and write recaps about games. That and LaxPower. Those things are now both gone. I hope people continue to go to ULN to find scores and interact socially on a local level. I don’t see the need for it to be on a national level. I think we have a strong lacrosse community here and it serves that local place. Obviously, with Prodigy taking over the site a few years ago, the video content has obviously improved. I think that’s the way that media is going. We’ll just continue to grow as it gets sanctioned. The goal is to outdo the traditional newspapers in that regard, and I think it can.