Roadtrip Dad - Lake Placid Wrap-up
(Editor's Note - Dr. Seuss once wrote: “You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!”. For those of you enjoying Dan Witmer's stories as much as we enjoy bringing them to you, we have a basket of treats for you over the next week or so. Dan reprised his role of Competition Director for the Lake Placid Summit Tournament, which I'm sure is what Dr. Seuss was referring to, and he has a few stories from the tourney to share . . .
Seven days, 11 fields, 198 teams in 14 divisions, and some 435 games. Is there a bigger or better lacrosse tournament anywhere? Where else can you watch Gary Gait, John Zulberti, Matt Palumb, all three Powell brothers, Rob Pannell, Dom Starsia, Steve Beville, Jake Coon, Lars Tiffany, Reggie Thorpe, and Gerry Byrne all play?
What a great week at Lake Placid! The only rain to speak of occurred Sunday night before the youth tournament started on Monday and then again this past Sunday when we were driving home. High temperatures hit the 80s and 90s every day. The only games that started in the rain – Sunday’s 11 AM contests – finished with sunshine.
My longest and most-anticipated road trip of the summer started on Sunday afternoon; I packed my equipment “just in case.” I also took my son Brian’s equipment and some food for the kids, making room in younger son Eric’s car for his three passengers – Brian, neighbor/friend Shane Duplessis, and Brittney Rowe, the boys’ friend from SUNY Brockport. Eric was going back for year #5, Brian for year #4, Brittney for year #3, and Shane for year #2. They left Oswego around 7 PM so Eric could work most of the UOLL playoff games at Maxwell Park, but, because of some GPS confusion (and my sons’ complete lack of sense of direction), they didn’t get into Lake Placid until midnight – it should be a three-and-a-half-hour to four-hour trip.
I checked the kids into their hotel room and met up with Rich Gross, personnel director for the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament. He had invited me to share his condo with him this year, and I was glad to accept his offer. We stayed at a place called the Olympic Condominiums on Whiteface Inn Lane, just off Rt. 86, right where the 100 Animals attraction used to be back when I was a kid in the ‘60s and ‘70s. By Sunday night I had mastered the backroads of LP, finding shortcuts that eliminated the need to drive down Main Street every time I drove to or came back from the lacrosse fields.
The first games were at 10 AM on Monday – on eight different fields. The youth tournament featured five divisions – U15 boys, U18 boys (silver and gold divisions), U19 boys, and a girls division. Each team played five games – two on Monday, two on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday, with champions being crowned in each group.
The biggest change to the tournament this year was an upgrade in technology in score reporting. Tournament director George Leveille brought in Pat Jackson from NGIN, based in Minnesota, to upload all scores and schedule updates on the tournament website, as well as creating an iPhone “app” that highlights each team’s schedule, scores, etc. We had six flat-screen TVs in the main tent that displayed scores and schedules, best described by one visitor who observed, “Looks like the Geek Squad has hit Lake Placid.” There were some glitches, some slow improvements, but it seemed like the technology improved and caught up with demand as the week went on. We also had a mini-office, a construction project mobile unit, placed on the site, which made things easier for laptops, internet links, and quiet when it came time to calculate seedings and tie-breakers for each division.
Before the last youth championship was played on Wednesday, the Super Grand Masters started their own four-game tournament. Personally, this is my favorite age group, maybe because I am now eligible to compete in it, but also because it’s great to watch these players compete as if they’re 20 years old. Quite honestly, once those guys put on their helmets and gloves, it isn’t necessarily obvious that the players you’re watching have grandchildren watching them play. The fire is definitely still there, best described by a t-shirt I saw that read, “Play Until You Can’t.”
By Thursday, most all the remaining nine divisions were in town, and crowds were seen watching any Syracuse or Cornell alumni team play. Nazareth’s sideline made a lot of noise, too.
That’s another aspect of the Summit Tournament that really impresses me – the number of college alumni teams, many with great, creative names. Can you name the schools represented by these team names? (answers appear in Part 2):
Burnt Orange, Burnin’ Orange, Burnt Too
Big Red Steelheads
Still Bruin and Brown State
Dirty Birds and Olden Flyers
Smokey Joe’s Quakers
Dutchmen and Dutchmasters
Sea of Green
- Dan Witmer