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LaxCon 2019: Rachel Vallarelli Blog

I haven’t been to LaxCon in eight years, since I was a member of the US U19 National Team…It’s been that long. It’s been too long.

LaxCon is basically the biggest reunion of those involved in the game of lacrosse and it takes place every year.

You have the best coaches, stringers, pros, US Team members, manufacturers and stick makers all thrown together for one event.

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It’s beyond awesome.

I haven’t been since I was 17 years old and on the US U19 National Team. My memories of that 2011 LaxCon involve me running around with my US teammates trying to sell raffle tickets so we could travel to the games and me hopping in a US Team demo, along with a goalie demo with and for Denise Westcott.

Fast forward to 2019 and I am now a former college coach-turned varsity head coach at Greenwich High School, and who also happens to be a New York Athletic Club athlete and a pro athlete in the United Women’s Lacrosse League. That league also is now taking a spin into the box lacrosse universe (which, side note, makes me very happy since I am also a box lacrosse goalie — more on that later).

LaxCon 2019: Top Booths

I went to LaxCon this year to build connections in the lacrosse world that I may have missed out on due to being a college coach and to learn some new concepts to take to my Greenwich team. I walked away with so much more.

Below you’ll find a detailed journal so to speak of my adventures over that weekend.

Friday Afternoon

Friday, I walked around the booths and met up with some awesome people. I hung out with Robin Brown (@laxtractive), Chris Deal (@dealy44),  Kaylee Nolan (@kayleenolan39), Matt (@955matt) and Phil (@spawnofpipo) at the Kid Mesh and Mesh Daddy booth where they were stringing up some awesome spoons and had a bunch on display.

(Side note: Robin strings up and dyes my sticks for both box and field and she absolutely kills it! Her work is unbelievable. So is everyone else’s on the list above.)

David Swartz (@smashtime_strings), Steph (@supersteph10) and Brittney (@brittneyhughes22), @redbeard_lax and @endlessstrings were also hangin’ at the booth all weekend.

Ran into fellow LaxAllStars contributor and WoodLaxSticks maker Justin Skaggs and talked some box lacrosse and watched some awesome box lacrosse and field demos.

Saw by buddy Christina Esposito walking around repping Team True and we talked pro lax and growing the game in New York City.

I also met up with Sarah Aschenbach at the Tewaaraton booth before the dinner that night.

Friday Night

Friday night started at the Tewaaraton dinner. This was an event to kick off the 2019 lacrosse season and to announce the Tewaaraton Spirit and Legends Recipients. I sat down at a table and ended the night sitting with the stick maker himself: Alf Jacques. We talked lacrosse, box and field, and how he could pass behind the back in all his box goalie gear and do stick tricks. I was amazed. I was beyond honored to sit with him and learn about the game he and I both care so deeply for. I even found the courage to ask him about why women don’t play lacrosse in Onondaga.

Then the lights went out. Quite literally. And I was taking pictures for the event in the dark and holding conversations with the people around me. I had the opportunity to reconnect with the HEADstrong Foundation and discuss a former player I coached in college who was battling her second bout of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and how she is connected to the organization and helping it grow.

Friday night concluded with the lights going back on (finally) and some late night conversations about the new direction that the UWLX is going with its box field hybrid rules and the addition of what may be the Olympic style.

Saturday Afternoon

My Saturday was a great one as I was in the STX Shots and Saves Demo with Liz Hogan, Michelle Tumolo and Haley Warden. I walked away, well gimped away with a nice trophy, an egg shaped bruise on my shin that has now, I proudly state, turned into a beautiful watercolor going all the way down to my toes.

I also ran into a former UMass and Team USA Captain Kevin Leveille as I made my way through the crazy maze of the Laxcon booths.

Saturday Later Afternoon and Evening

Saturday later afternoon and evening included a nice dinner with some of the top stringers in the game and concluded with the STX Town Hall, by STX and Lax.com, where everything from stringing to social media profiles and vlogging was discussed.

It was a great ending to a fantastic day, learning about how to connect with people in all different areas of the world and in different levels of the game.

One of the topics that was discussed at the town hall was the fact that there are seven different variations of women’s/girls lacrosse and how we, as players and top people in the game, can help to streamline the rules and differences in the game so they are not only easy to understand, but also be fun and fast paced. The goal of the STX Town Hall is to encourage conversation and collaboration across all levels of lacrosse.

Saturday night involved another dinner (yes a second dinner — I enjoy my hobbit meals) with some awesome people and then I headed back to the hotel lobby to reconnect with others.

I met up with fellow LaxAllStars contributor Ryan Conwell and we discussed the IBLA and how I can get involved and play some Senior A ball this summer. I also got the chance to see my buddy Eric Witmer from Summitt Lacrosse ventures and we talked summer lax and the Northstar Invitational of course, which I have been involved with since camp numero uno.

Conclusion

All in all, Sunday came too quickly, as it always seems to. Friends said goodbye to one another until they will see each other again one year from now.

Laxcon 2019, you were good to me. I met so many great people, reconnected with old friends, made some new ones and had a blast. Hopefully it won’t be another eight years till I see you again.

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