Road Trip Dad – You Don't Have To
Wait Till March for Lacrosse
Dan Witmer | January 14, 2020
High school lacrosse practices start in nine weeks. Nine. Ugh!

Temperatures were in the 60s this past weekend, and weather like that isn’t going to make the next few months any easier if you’re looking for your lacrosse fix.

Don’t worry – I’ve got your back.

At US Lacrosse’s LaxCon this past weekend, most of the college coaches I met were talking about practices starting this week (D-II and D-III programs, too). Pretty sure I saw that Syracuse University’s men’s team had its Media Day last week, so, it’s on!

Gotta love college sports – while the fall football season concludes tonight, spring sports are already underway!

My nose is always close to the ground, sniffing for lacrosse anywhere and everywhere I can find it. North, south, east, west… box or field… If it’s out there, I want to know about it.

So I thought I’d help get you over the hump, try to give you a few dates and locations that will help you get up and out of bed over the next two months, when skies are gray, snow returns (c’mon; it’s inevitable), and your friends are more interested in the SuperBowl, the Daytona 500, March Madness, MLB’s opening day, and yes, even the PGA (does that season ever end?)…

For instance, did you know that nearly 50 teams of men ages 40+ are set to play lacrosse in Weston, FL this weekend? That’s right; it’s the annual Florida Lacrosse Classic, with seven different age groups: Supermasters (4 teams for 40+), Grand Masters (7 teams of 45+), Half Century (12 teams in A and B divisions for those 50+), Ultra Grand Masters (11 teams for 55+), Past Masters (8 teams for 60+), and, yes, Past Legends (5 teams for those 65+). Not sure, but this tournament seems to be growing and growing, as more and more former players are realizing they “still got game.” The tournament is an annual tradition for lots of former and current players, coaches, and referees from Upstate New York, and why wouldn’t it be? Let’s see… another cold weekend in Upstate NY, or a weekend of 70s, 80s, and sunshine in southern Florida? If (and when) I decide to attend or participate someday, I just might be tempted to buy a one-way ticket…

And if you need some proof that the college season is in fact underway, did you know that the Colgate men’s team will be scrimmaging Jacksonville today at Maclay HS in Tallahassee? That’s right... today.

I couldn’t find a comprehensive college scrimmage schedule, but I did find some interesting January match-ups. Vermont, who has recently taken to playing one of the first D-I games of the season every year, is scrimmaging at Maryland this weekend and then coming to Syracuse on January 25... in preparation, of course, for their February 8 opener… at Jacksonville.

According to some random and cursory research, I found that Providence will be at Utah this weekend (I mean, where else would you go for a January scrimmage?); meanwhile, Jacksonville and Navy will be at North Carolina.

The following weekend, D-II Tampa will be at Jacksonville on Friday, January 24, and on Saturday, Michigan will be at Hobart (scheduled for indoors, but – hey – who knows?).

If you want Johnny and/or Judy to stop playing Fortnight and start playing some lax, Summit Lacrosse Ventures is hosting two days of indoor, smaller-field play for both boys and girls on January 25 and 26. In conjunction with the Albany Power Lacrosse Club, boys’ teams in three age groups will play in the Power Sevens Tournament on Saturday, and then girls’ teams will play on Sunday. There’s also a separate skills clinic…

That same weekend, the annual Sin City Box Classic will be held in Las Vegas January 24-26. I’m pretty sure there will be a Glasgow Clydesiders contingent once again, but neither Brian nor Eric is planning to be there this year. Nonetheless, I’m confidently predicting the proverbial “good time had by all…”

I found a number of scrimmages set for Saturday, February 1, but I also found at least two season-openers scheduled for that day, too. High Point opens up at Maryland, Bellarmine (Kentucky) will open at Utah, and Detroit Mercy migrates south to play the Jacksonville Dolphins in their opener. Meanwhile, Hobart and Virginia will be at Towson for one last scrimmage, and Siena will be at Binghamton. This all takes place the day before the SuperBowl.

You know – lacrosse season!

Syracuse opens their season on Friday, February 7 when they host Colgate in the Carrier Dome at 7 PM. Lots of D-I programs kick off their 2020 campaigns on Saturday, February 8 – Canisius at Hobart, Binghamton at Marist, UMass at Army, LIU (playing their first year of D-I lacrosse) at Siena, and Vermont at Jacksonville. On Sunday, February 9, St. Joseph’s travels north for their opener at St. Bonaventure, and Army gets back after it as they host New Jersey Institute of Technology on Monday, Feb. 10.

By the time CNY school districts begin their winter break, all the big boys are in full swing. On Saturday, Feb. 15, SU is home against Binghamton, Cornell is at Albany, Siena is at Hobart, Robert Morris visits Upstate to play Canisius (indoors in Victor), St. Bonaventure travels to Bellarmine, and Army hosts Rutgers. And, oh yeah – if you happen to be headed to Wisconsin for this year’s school vacation, you can catch Jacksonville when they play at Marquette. Also during the winter break, Canisius plays at Michigan on Tuesday, Feb. 18, and Army is at Marist that day, too.

The final week of February break, you can watch Cornell at Towson on Friday, February 21, or on Saturday you can see UMass-Lowell at Siena, Drexel at Albany, Colgate at Hobart, Lafayette at Binghamton, Canisius at Hartford, or, if you’re a skier and you happen to be in Colorado, you can catch St. Bonaventure at Denver. Even the D-III guys will be playing by then – RIT plays Bates at UMass, Springfield is at Nazareth, and Ithaca and St. John Fisher will be indoors at the Pinnacle Center in Victor. On Sunday, February 23, SU hosts Army, Cornell plays High Point at Calvert Hall HS in Baltimore, and St. Bonaventure gets their money’s worth, playing at Air Force.

That same weekend, the Clydesiders will be playing at the Chuck Baranowski Winter Classic, an international box tournament in Montreal. Eric will be playing for the Clyde, so I’m thinking seriously about headed north to see if I can be of any help on the bench. I haven’t been to Montreal since I was a kid, and I don’t remember anything about it, so I figure I’m due. And, hey – this thing is called Road Trip Dad, right?

On Tuesday, February 25, Bucknell travels to Binghamton, and Lycoming plays at Ithaca. On Wednesday, February 26, RIT plays at Nazareth.

The final weekend in February (yes, there are five Saturdays in February this year, and Utah plays games on every one of them!) is filled with Upstate lacrosse. Hobart plays SU in the Dome on Friday, 2/28, and on Saturday, Ithaca is at Geneseo, Hartwick is at Oswego, Harvard plays at Albany, Holy Cross is at West Point, Cortland hosts SUNY Maritime, Potsdam plays at St. Lawrence, and Nazareth is at Endicott. And after weeks of hosting scrimmages and early season games, Utah finally goes on the road – to Jacksonville! (loyal RTD readers will recall that I love everything about Utah!).

I didn’t even mention the NLL and its 2020 season, which is also in full swing. Eric follows the league closely, and streams every game each weekend. If you have any interest in watching great box lacrosse, it’s out there for your enjoyment.

Finally, here’s another way to pass the next few months – why not become a certified lacrosse official? I’ve made this appeal every year, and here’s your last chance for 2020. In the Syracuse area, the second week of CNYLOA classes continues tonight; in the Rochester area, GVLOA classes start this Thursday. A quick Google search can put you in touch with the right people – take classes now and you can start reffing games in March or April – and all year-round! See? It’s not so bad… I’m not saying that spring is here, but lacrosse is! If you look closely enough, there’s plenty of lacrosse to be had. Whether you sit on the couch or hit the road, enjoy!

And 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.