This past week at the Vail Lacrosse Shootout was a great reminder for me about how incredible the lacrosse community is.
The surviving founders of the Vail Lacrosse Shootout, Dave and his brother — who originally got the tournament off the ground with the late Flip Naumberg — are no exception to the idea that there are still fantastic people in the lacrosse world. They have managed to form a community at the Vail Lacrosse Shootout that has people coming back year after year. Many of these people have been coming back for decades.
As I asked some of the staff members why they kept returning to the Vail Lacrosse Shootout year after year, the answer was all the same.
My Favorite Photos From The Vail Lacrosse Shootout
And what I love about this family is that these people come from all over with varying backgrounds in lacrosse, such as players whose highest level of lacrosse was high school JV to players that have garnered accolades at the professional level.
That’s something that I think goes unsung in the lacrosse world. There are many people in the game who come from non-traditional areas — including out of the country — or never made their high school varsity team, but have contributed to the game in other ways.
These are the types of stories I love telling. While these types of lacrosse people might not fit the stereotypical mold of working on Wall Street during the week and playing professionally on Sundays, these are the kinds of people who make help provide perspective in the sometimes insane world of sports.
While playing at high levels of lacrosse and being “successful” is certainly fun, too many kids nowadays have the mantra that playing Division I lacrosse is the only acceptable option, or that one outdoor professional lacrosse league is better than the other. While I don’t believe either is the case — I believe that in fact there are many great options for playing in college and that there is room for two outdoor professional lacrosse league — I think this speaks to a larger issue in the sport.
Sure, working hard and self-improvement are great. Lacrosse is all about honoring the Creator by doing your best. But, I think where some in the lacrosse world falter is that they think that success is what is actually important.
To me, lacrosse is not a tool to use to assert dominance over someone else or to selfishly advance your own interests. Yes, the original recipients of the game used lacrosse as a way of settling disputes. But, if you’ve heard the story of the first-ever lacrosse game between the four-legged animals and the winged birds, you’ll know that inclusion of those that are unlike yourself, teamwork and contributing to a group with your unique abilities are paramount to true success in the game.
What I love about lacrosse is that it’s a way for me to enjoy myself playing while pushing myself as an individual to be better. I love the camaraderie and the friends you meet along the way. A lot of the lacrosse community is fantastic in that you can make connections everywhere you go and feel like family.
From my perspective, these are the values we need to emphasize.
The Vail Lacrosse Shootout does just that. People were there just to have a good time playing lacrosse.
If I had to choose only one lacrosse event to attend for the foreseeable future, this would be it. It may not draw the attention of NCAA Championship Weekend or the world games, but in terms of a complete lacrosse getaway experience, this tournament has it all.
Special thanks to the staff at the tournament who hosted me in Vail, Colorado and for their hospitality. Here’s to another 47 years of the tournament.