Road Trip Dad –
2019 Lake Placid Legends Celebration
Dan Witmer | August 9, 2019
If you weren’t in Lake Placid last night, you should have been. If you were in Lake Placid and you did not attend the 2019 Legends Ceremony, then you really missed the boat – I mean, you were right here and still you missed out!

The Lake Placid Legends celebration started in 2014, to help commemorate the tournament’s 25th birthday. I’ve been directly involved with the event since 2017, and each year we’ve succeeded in making the occasion bigger and better than the year before. Last night’s ceremony certainly raised the bar so high that we’ve got our work cut out for us next year.

Since my friends, alumni, and even my own sons have frequently asked, “What exactly do you do at Lake Placid?” I figured I’d give you a brief summary of the second eight hours of work yesterday…

4:15 – arrive at Intervales Lodge to finish up pre-event preparations.
5:10 – first guests arrive.
6:00 – more than 100 guests are enjoying conversation, refreshments, and the setting.
6:50 – 10-minute-warning announced; attendance is approximately 150-175.
7:00 – program begins.

2019 Lake Placid Awards

Welcome – introduce past legends in attendance Blake and Cort Kim, Anthony Ortolano, Brett Riley, Bill Bergan, Lyn Reitenbach, Artie Waugh, Tom Pillsworth, John Morgan

The Legends Foundation (history)… Started in 2014, our 25th year

Dom Starsia couldn’t be here tonight

Thank you to: Roby Politi, True Lacrosse, STX, Nike, John F. Morgan, Team SLV (Ashley, Kevin, Blake, and Eric), ORDA, Sky Lacrosse, Wood Lacrosse Sticks

Dan Spillett Award (’04)
– presented in loving memory to a Grand Masters participant who has shown courage and determination through his years of play at Lake Placid
This year’s winner: 2019 Charlie Hartigan, speaker George Leveille

Jim Muhlfelder Award (’04)
– presented to a women’s division participant, someone who has been instrumental in launching women’s play at Lake Placid
This year’s winner: 2019 Brenda Doll, speaker Ashley Murphy

Larry Piatelli Award (’04)
– presented in fond memory to a men’s lacrosse official who has been a long-time positive presence wearing the stripes at Lake Placid
This year’s winner: 2019 Pat Jank, speakers Tom Abbott and Dennis O’Brien

Travis Solomon Award (’10)
– presented in memory to a player/participant who has demonstrated not only great skills, but also a traditional, respectful approach for the game
This year’s winner: 2019 Steve Chambers, speaker George Leveille

Tom Pillsworth Award (’10)
– presented to a staff member who has provided his/her services to the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament over the course of many years
This year’s winner: 2019 Andrea Lister, speaker Ashley Murphy

Lax All Stars “Grow The Game” Award (’18)
– presented to someone who has had a significant impact on the growth of lacrosse in his/her region and has had a strong connection to the Summit Classic
This year’s winner: 2019 Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse, speakers Dan Witmer and George Leveille

“When the Summit Lacrosse Tournament began in 1990, there was no youth lacrosse program in Lake Placid or Saranac Lake and only one girl’s youth program in the entire North Country region of the Adirondacks. That all changed in 2001, when Bill Larzelere and his family moved into the area from Westchester County, NY. With two lacrosse-playing children and no clubs or teams in the area, he and Kathleen started the Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse. They did it all, from getting not-for-profit status to running the concession stands at tournaments. Now there are 125 youth players in the program consistently.

In 2005, Chris and Lora Grant and their son and daughter came to the area from New Jersey where both their children played youth lacrosse. The Grants joined the Tri-Lakes team, working side by side with Bill until 2016.

For the past three years, Garrick and Tracy Smith have taken over the day to day operations. Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse not only created youth teams for both boys and girls, taking their teams to tournaments at Sackets Harbor and Saratoga as well as hosting their own tournaments, but their leadership also helped negotiate the first sports merger between the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake school districts for boys and girls to play varsity lacrosse. Today there are numerous mergers between the two school districts that allow scholastic athletes in small school districts to play the different sports they enjoy with a critical mass of players.

Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse has benefitted from the efforts and hours of many other leaders. Dermott Morgan was the new coach of the just-formed Saranac Lake HS varsity boys’ team and supported the youth program. Going forward with the help of people like Lee Quaintance, Jeanne Duguay, John Muldowney, Tom Goodnough, Jim Murnane, Patty Reynolds, Phoebe Burns, and Matt Norfolk, Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse now has teams for boys and girls at every grade level and has seen its past participants succeed at the scholastic and college levels. In fact, several former players in the program are now coaching the next generation of Tri-Lakes lacrosse players.”

LP Legends

Phil Kessler, speakers Dan Witmer, George Leveille, and Steve Scaramuzzino

Phil Kessler was the sponsor, organizer, and coach of the New England Knights, who competed in the Lake Placid Summit Tournament from 1992-2003. Each year it seemed to come down to the Knights vs. Sailin’ Shoe for the championship, with the Knights finally winning it all in ’96. The Knights featured many former and current Syracuse University players in the years before pro lacrosse became another option, and over the years, the Knights’ rosters included the likes of Casey and Ryan Powell, Paul Gait, Steve Scaramuzzino, Charlie Lockwood, Matt Palumb, Greg Burns, Pat McCabe, and Ric Beardsley. By raising the level of competition, Knights games became “must-watch” events, and made more teams want to participate in Lake Placid each summer, helping to grow the overall tournament.”

Paul Rose, speakers Dan Witmer, George Leveille, Ken Fougnier, and Jeanne Rose

“Paul Rose played for a number of teams in his years at Lake Placid – the Legends, High Peaks, Paladin, and Ultra legends, to name a few. He played into his 60s, despite battling cancer. Before he passed away in March of 2010, he was planning to be a player/coach of the Old Glory team at the World Games in Manchester, England that summer. He earned all-conference honors in soccer, wrestling, and lacrosse at SUNY Cortland, and graduated in 1967. Paul had a long and successful coaching career at Clarkson, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Morrisville, and Colgate, and he has been inducted into Halls of Fame at Cortland, Geneseo, Morrisville, and the Upstate Chapter of US Lacrosse. Each year the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) names its Paul Rose Men’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year Award in his honor. Upon his passing, former teammate Charlie Hartigan wrote, ‘His bright eyes and cheerful smile met all with equal enthusiasm, and to my knowledge, never complained once of his misfortune or discomfort. His courage has been inspirational.’”

Roy Simmons, Jr., speaker George Leveille

“Over the span of 28 years as head coach at Syracuse University (1971-1998), Roy Simmons, Jr. led the Orange to six NCAA national championships. During that time, his Syracuse teams also appeared in 16 consecutive semi-finals. He was inducted into the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame in 1991, and is also a member of numerous other Halls of Fame. Once Syracuse University players and alumni started to gather to play in Lake Placid each summer, Coach Roy Simmons became a fixture on the sidelines, supporting his players as they competed not only for the New England Knights, but age group teams like Burning Orange, Burnt Orange, and Burnt Orange Too. With a birthday in the first week of August, Roy is likely to spend the big day each year in Lake Placid, celebrating with his many former players and their families.”

Closing remarks
- speakers George and Kevin Leveille

8:00 – program concludes. Photo opportunities, thank-yous, handshakes, and hugs are everywhere.

8:30 – I’m invited to join in a drinking game with Paul Rose’s Colgate alumni in the parking lot. I graciously offered to officiate the contest instead. For the record, the offense defeated the defense, and I’m guessing that it wasn’t the first time.
9:00 – wood-fired pizza at The Upstairs Grill on Main Street.
10:00 – more Mikey Powell at Delta Blue, this time with the entire Black River Band.
11:30 – back to the condo
12:15 – pretty much fall asleep on my laptop.

And so went Thursday, August 8, 2019 – Day Four at the 30th Lake Placid Summit Classic. Thanks to everyone who attended, thanks to all who helped, and congratulations to all of last night’s award recipients. It was a pretty special evening.

Drive carefully, everyone!

- Dan Witmer daniel.witmer@oswego.edu

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 Amazon.com, 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 Amazon.com and at the river's end bookstore.