Road Trip Dad – Find Your Summit
Dan Witmer | August 7, 2019
Full disclosure: I love my job, and I love the people I work for.

Yes, they pay me (more than I probably deserve), and yes, my son Eric is one of the five full-time employees at Summit Lacrosse Ventures, but that doesn’t change anything – I’m a big fan of SLV and especially the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic.

Whether you’re a die-hard lacrosse fan or not, the sheer numbers are pretty darn impressive – over 250 teams, playing four or five games apiece, over a period of seven days, on 14 different fields, in 26 different age and/or talent groupings. Yesterday afternoon I helped stuff 26 bags with championship T-shirts; we’ll be crowning eight youth division champions today, and after that, I think there’s a championship or two almost every day through Sunday. Yowza! I don’t know of any other lacrosse tournament, in this country or anywhere in the world, that can boast those kinds of numbers.

And we don’t just give championship T-shirts. We also give team MVP and Sportsmanship medals (made of wood) to both teams that play in each championship.

And put their photos and individual interviews up on our website.

Do other lacrosse tournaments have age groups for every member of the family? The LP Summit Classic has divisions going down to 14U for both boys and girls. We also offer Open divisions (18+) for men and women, as well as men’s divisions in 30+, 35+, 40+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+, and – yup – this year we’re expanding to 65+. Women’s groups also include 18-25+ and 30+. Are there other tournaments offering competition for three generations? Seriously – we’ve got lacrosse for the whole family – Junior, Missy, Mom and Dad, and Grandpa!

And the SLV staff keeps brainstorming new additions every year.

Today we’re filming the semi-finals and championship of the girls’ Northstar division. We’ve got 24 teams of high school girls committed to D-I NCAA programs. There’s a Little Red team of Cornell commits, a Golden Domers squad headed off to Notre Dame, and a Baby Orange team of girls on their way to Syracuse. Twenty-four teams! We’ve got a production crew that’s going to film and announce the game, which will later be edited and formatted and available on YouTube. Both semi-finals and the championship! Who else does that?

Also later today, we’re having our 2nd annual Summit 7s tournament-within-a-tournament. Fifteen girls’ teams in three different divisions will play eight shortened games over today and tomorrow… one face-off per half, 7v7, and half-hour games. Summit 7’s – the fastest game on 14 feet!

And as long as we’re playing around with variations of scholastic and college lacrosse, why don’t we host a seminar with World Lacrosse about the proposed format and rules of Olympic lacrosse? In fact, let’s invite Steve Stenerson, President and CEO of US Lacrosse, and Jim Scherr, CEO of World Lacrosse (formerly the FIL), to be our featured panelists? Well, consider it done. This event is set for Friday afternoon – free admission and open to the public!

And on Friday evening we’ll be hosting our 4th annual MLL Alumni Game, and this year those guys are going to use those new rules proposed for Olympic play. Nobody else does stuff like that!

What lacrosse tournament do you know of that has been around so long that it has its own “hall of fame”? The Summit Classic started its Lake Placid Legends honors back in 2014, at its 25th annual event. They also named honorary all-tournament Teams of Distinction and their All-Tournament teams. There are high schools and college athletic programs that probably do less than the SLV staff does for its iconic Legends.

Speaking of which, our 2019 Legends ceremony will be Thursday night, and it’s kind of a big deal. This year’s three Legends inductees are 1) former Syracuse coach Roy Simmons, Jr., 2) the late, great Paul Rose (former head coach at Clarkson, Geneseo, Morrisville, and Colgate, and 3) Phil Kessler, the man behind the Placid participation of so many of Syracuse’s greatest players, thus raising the level of competition exponentially.

Oh, and did I mention that the Legends Foundation also raises funds for various charitable organizations, mostly promoting the growth of the game? Or that we have Dom Starsia, one of own Legends, serve as the Foundation Chair? Talk about heavy hitters!

Then there are the Lake Placid Special Awards; we’ll be recognizing our 2019 recipients for these on Thursday night, too – the Dan Spillett Award (to the late Charlie Hartigan), the Jim Muhlfelder Award (to Brenda Doll), the Larry Piatelli Award (to the late Pat Jank), the Tom Pillsworth Award (to Andrea Lister), and the Travis Solomon Award (to Steve Chambers).

But wait – there’s more!

Last year we presented our inaugural LaxAllStars Grow The Game Award to the Queener Family of Penn Yan, NY. This year, we’re recognizing the Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse organization, the local lacrosse group that serves the Tupper Laker, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid region. Congratulations to one and all!

Please – stop me if this sounds like any other lacrosse tournament.

And oh yeah – we’ve got the Lax Sports Network here, too. They’re covering our Legends induction ceremony, our World Lacrosse seminar, and our MLL Alumni 4.0 exhibition. Not too shabby.

Summit Lacrosse Ventures has even created its own pledge, or code of conduct. The Summit Society promotes the values of Camaraderie, Competition, and Respect, and those aren’t just empty clichés. Come to a championship presentation if you get a chance, and listen to our speech.

Finally, and I probably shouldn’t include this, but the SLV crew takes pretty good care of its own people, too. Last night, after a smooth Day Two, approximately 20-22 people gathered for a full spread of great food, drink, and company at the Great Adirondack Brewing Company down on Main Street. We’re not talking about a round of drinks and a sheet pizza; I mean appetizers, drinks, and a generous offer to order whatever we wanted from the menu. In attendance were friends and partners who’ve been around since 1990 – Year One, as well as four of five first-timers, too. The SLV and LPSC family just continues to grow…

Yes, I’m biased. SLV and the Lake Placid Summit Classic have been very good to me and my family. But, for the record, I’ve seen my share of other tournaments. Ever since the 1980s – since before this tournament was even born – I’ve spent hours coaching, refereeing, recruiting, and watching as a parent at lacrosse tournaments far and wide, so I’ve got plenty of comparisons to make...

So please, trust me when I say that this one is special. It’s not only bigger and better than all the rest; it’s an event, an experience. Like I said back in early July – baseball might have a cornfield somewhere in Iowa, but lacrosse has Lake Placid.

If you’re in town this week, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If you’re not, you’re going to want to book your room for 2020 now (dates are Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 9).

So once again, Happy 30th Birthday, LPSC. As Tim McGraw would say, here’s to your “next 30 years”!

Downtown LP or wherever you might be, please drive carefully (whoa – that all rhymed!)

Drive carefully, everyone!

- Dan Witmer

Dan Witmer is the author of two books.  The Best of Road Trip Dad – the Laker Lacrosse Collection  is an accumulation of 45 articles written for JustLacrosseUpstate between the years 2012 and 2018, about the history and traditions, the people, and the stories of the Oswego State men’s lacrosse program. The book is available on, and at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, the SUNY Oswego College Store in the Marano Campus Center, The Sports Outfit on West Genesee Street in Fairmount, and Geared 2 Sports in Cortland.  ...and piles to go before I sleep - The Book of Wit  is his memoir describing his 33 year career teaching HS English and coaching at Hannibal Central School. It is available on and at the river's end bookstore.