Hello fellow lacrosse fanatics, my name is Nick Widmer and I play goalie for Oregon State University. Like you, I used to follow posts about Team LaxAllStars.com and wondered how those guys got the opportunity to play club ball for a such a cool website. Recently I was offered that same opportunity in a form I could not resist.
Jeff Brunelle, co-founder of LAS, contacted me in desperate need of a goalie for their Lake Tahoe tournament team just a few days before the tourney began. He said that if I was free, I would be on a sponsored trip to play the game I love in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. How could I turn that down?!
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That was on Monday of the week Tahoe began. On Friday morning I found myself on a flight from Portland, Oregon to Reno, Nevada. Without knowing one single person on the roster, I was so excited to meet a whole group of new faces. With ease, I arrived in Reno to the sound of slot machines chiming and playing their songs.
On my shuttle from Reno to Lake Tahoe, I met another late-comer that was playing for team “Billy Boys” and he told me his travel story and his unfortunate delays, and we talked about lacrosse the entire way. We soon arrived in Tahoe and wished each other good luck and departed with a hand shake.
Jeff picked me up and we went to the store, along the way talking about our team and his background in lacrosse. Jeff is the kind of guy that exudes his love for the game just by talking to him. After the store, we arrived at our pad for the weekend. I walked into the house and instantly was greeted with handshakes and introductions. Dave Ogle, Michael Brady, Nick Welton, Joe Eck… the list went on and on.
I was starting to think our entire team was staying in our house. After a nice breakfast we received our uniforms and instantly I had butterflies. I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m actually playing for LaxAllStars.com.” It blew my mind that I had been given such an opportunity.
After what seemed like Christmas, we hit the fields and the lacrosse festivities began. Instantly I became friends with Brandon Bertone, our face-off specialist and a true character. We arrived and found a nice team spot to watch a couple of game before it was finally our turn. The rest of our hodge-podge team showed up, representing teams such as Oregon, BYU, Washington & Jefferson, Boise State, Lehigh, C.W. Post, and even a pro that was kept hidden from us.
We all took the field and one of the attackman asked if he could warm me up, of course I was more than happy to oblige. After about ten or fifteen shots, I started to notice how gassed I felt. I was already breathing hard and sweating and I wasn’t even half-way through my warm-up. I soon realized it was the elevation, I had never played at a high elevation like Tahoe before. Nonetheless, I didn’t let my fatigue get to my concentration as we headed into game time.
Like any new tournament team, it took us a while to get our game together. We all caused a couple easy turnovers in the first game, but in the end we brought it together to come to a tie at the end of regulation. We came in for a huddle before overtime and everybody looked so excited to play, so ready to accomplish what we came here to do.
We got back out on the field and Brandon walked out to the face-off. For being about 5’6, Brandon is an incredible face-off man. With little effort, he popped the ball to himself and started to sprint to the goal. He drew the defense and with three poles crushing him, managed to score around-the-world. With screams and chants, we embraced Brandon and drew our first game to a close. After that, we were no longer just a bunch of random players, we were Team LaxAllStars.com.
We battled through the weekend and came out with three wins and one loss. We inched by in two of our four games with close one-goal games, thanks to the efforts of Brandon and Johnny Christmas.
At the end of the tournament, I found myself with new friends. People I know I will be able to contact at any time and ask how they are, what they’ve been doing, and when I will see them again. At the end of this experience, I received much more than just four games on a beautiful weekend, I became a member of a community of people who love the game.
I went from a loyal reader, to a player, and now a blogger! It has been an awesome experience and hopefully I can continue to step in front of hard rubber objects for Team LaxAllStars.com. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity. If it happened to me, it could happen to any of you out there. Keep reading, keep supporting LAS, and most importantly, Grow The Game!