They say you should write about what you know. Well, in my house, we know score tables.
The 24th edition of the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament begins today, as ten games face-off at 10 AM. By the end of the day, some 78 games will have been played.
And that’s just Day One.
You know about George Leveille, tournament founder and director. You know his sons, Kevin and Mike, who played collegiately at UMass and Syracuse, respectively, and who have played on pro teams and US National teams since finishing their NCAA days.
You will recognize many of the referees, as the LP staff is usually a Who’s Who of lacrosse’s best officials. You might even know Anthony Ortolano and/or Jim Case, athletic trainers who have plied their trade in the Adirondacks for years. Ort retired from RPI in 2012 and worked part-time at Siena this year, while Jim is still the athletic trainer at Cornell, where I met him at the Richie Moran Quik-Stick Lacrosse Camp back in the early 90s.
The people you may not know, or maybe even notice, are the two or three people sitting at the scoretable on each field. I’m going to take a few minutes this week to tell you a few things about them.
These scorers, or score table personnel, or table jockeys, or table monkeys, or whatever you might call them, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are related to referees or Summit Tournament staff. Some have played lacrosse; some haven’t. Some are from far and wide; others are locals from Lake Placid or Saranac Lake. Some are in high school; some are in college. Last year a teacher/varsity coach worked at a table; this year there’s a 60-year old on the score table staff. There are both males and females at the tables.
Their job is keep to game time, penalty time, and score, while also keeping track of time-outs, goals and assists, and penalties. Unlike most tournaments, they keep a written score sheet, have the referees sign it after every game, and then turn it in to the main tent after every game. These game sheets become “official documents” and are crucially important as final scores and even goal differentials come into play when seedings and playoffs are determined.
The table workers also try to keep extra balls on the end lines to keep games moving, which is no small task when shooters routinely send balls into the woods or out on to the airstrip.
Like I said, in our house, we talk score table talk. Not all the time, but probably more often than the average lacrosse house.
My first year working (and playing) at Lake Placid was 2008; I went up with my younger son Eric and we both worked score tables. Originally my thought was that I’d play while Eric (who was 16 that first year) worked, but when I realized how much down time I had, I figured I might as well help out and get on the payroll, too. I ended up working a lot of games, and we both had fun. We were hooked.
But that wasn’t the first time we kept score or penalty time. Oh no – we are all seasoned veterans in this house…
I frequently kept the book at our Oswego State intrasquad games, alumni games, and scrimmages. I also kept the book at my kids’ scholastic games. I often trained others.
But remarkably, my sons’ score table resumes are better than mine. They’ve both worked for Drew White and the UOLL (Upstate Outdoor Lacrosse League) at Maxwell Park in Dewitt since 2007 or so – Eric’s worked there for about seven consecutive years now, right through yesterday’s 2013 championships. They’ve both worked for Anthony Richmond at the annual Lax by the Lake Tournament in Oswego since they graduated from high school. This summer, Brian helped organize and run the 200+ team Denver Shootout with 3dLacrosse, and when he helped run the FLG in 3D Tournament in Maryland last month, he hired his younger, and very experienced, brother for the weekend. Come to think of it, Brian got started at a very early age – he was hired by his seventh grade social studies teacher, who also coached junior high boys’ basketball, to keep the scorebook at all their games.
So the next summer (2009), we talked Brian into joining us. I played on two teams, but worked tables when I could. Brian found a team to play for, so Eric came home with the most money that summer; he said he didn’t even want to play (he was going into his senior year of HS), that his reason for going up to Lake Placid was to make money.
In 2010 I was invited to join the administrative team, and I moved from the little 10x10 tents to the “big tent.” Brian and Eric found teams to play for, and worked every game available to them. We also brought back-up – hometown friends from Oswego, college friends from SUNY Brockport. When the Witmers pulled into the parking lot, we brought a supporting cast with us.
Since then, we’ve all moved up the ranks a bit at Lake Placid. Now George calls me a “Competition Director.” I’m in or around the main tent all day long. The boys often get the big games – Ithaca HS vs. Shoreham-Wading River HS, Burnt Orange vs. Big Red Steelheads, #2 seeds vs. #3 seeds, championship games, etc., and they are often asked to take younger workers under their wings to teach them the tricks of the trade.
Think it’s easy? Think again. To be good at this, you need to have patience. You know how many times players ask “What’s the score?” or “How much time is left?”? You also better be ready with answers, so you have to know the rules, too. “Do we have to keep it in under two minutes?” “How many time-outs do we get?” “Are we playing the new rules or the old ones?” One of Eric’s favorite stories is when he answered “Thirty” when asked how much time was left in a penalty. He refrained from answering when the anxious player then asked, “Seconds?”
You also have to pay attention. Players, coaches, children, and even wives and mothers will tell you if you haven’t flipped the score card after the most recent goal. You have to be thorough and accurate, too, because nothing incurs the wrath of people in the big tent like an incomplete or inaccurate score sheet. First half… 6, second half… 7, final score… 11 – stuff like that.
You have to be observant. Know when the water buckets are getting empty, when you’re running out of cups, or when there aren’t any more balls on the end lines. Honestly, one person couldn’t do the job alone, and sometimes it gets a little crazy if there are only two working a game.
You also have to be assertive, or you’re going to be in trouble. You’ve got to keep the teams back out of the substitution area, or else A) you can’t see the game, and B) someone is going to get hurt. You have to keep younger kids out of the table area, as they are the ones who are going to get run over by their own dad or their dad’s teammates. You might choose to let people hang out under your 10x10 pop-up if it’s raining or brutally hot, but that only makes doing your job more difficult, so be aware.
Maybe most importantly, a sense of humor helps a lot. Eric loves to yuck it up with players, coaches, and referees; Brian tends to be a little more quiet, and when he does say something, it’s often a bit sarcastic.
They’ve seen a lot of lacrosse games in their 21 or 23 years; they’ve both taken referee courses, they’ve both played the game since they were in kindergarten, and more recently they’ve both coached the game. I’m not saying they know it all – none of us do – but they sure have seen a lot of lacrosse, and they still love to be closely involved in every game.
Whether you say hi to any or all of us, or if you don’t know or recognize us at all, say Hello, Please, and Thank you to the people working your game this week. They’re trying to get everything right, and most of them are also there for the entire week. Monday is the late day, with games starting at 10 AM. On Tuesday it’s 9 AM, and on Wednesday it’s 8:30. Table workers are typically asked to arrive at the big tent an hour before face-off, so they can sign in, get field assignments, get their gear (balls, cones, clocks, two-way radios, flip charts, and pens), help set up the concession stand, and often help prepare fields. The day usually ends around 7 or 8 PM, and dinner doesn’t usually happen before 9.
230 teams. 12 fields. 18 divisions and champions. 7 days. More than 500 games... Rain or shine, hot or cold, close game or blowout, those workers are there to help you have a great time this week. Please, help them help you.
See you there! Drive carefully.
- Dan Witmer