Road Trip Dad - Lake Placid Chronicles
Day Four - A Tale of Two Cities

Dan Witmer | August 6, 2015
NOTE: Thanks to Rich Gross for giving me the idea for today’s RTD Lake Placid Chronicles…

I’ll admit that I have never read Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Tale of Two Cities, but I know how it begins, and that’s why I titled today’s piece the way that I did.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness …” Sound familiar? I think Dickens was describing the disparity between the impoverished poor and the wealthiest nobility leading up to the French Revolution…

Well, yesterday I witnessed the two very different worlds of lacrosse’s youth as well as the fastest game on two feet played, more often than not, at a snail’s pace.

In the morning yesterday we had the conclusion of the three-day Summit Lacrosse Youth Tournament. Eight teams won championships (listed below) and entire families watched Johnny and his teammates compete. The concession stand was busy, the rows of vendors were busy, and there was traffic backed up along Rt. 73.

Then, in the blink of an eye, suddenly the North Elba Athletic Fields seemed deserted. Vendors Row turned into a ghost town. The food tents almost looked like they were closed. Pedestrian traffic seemed to consist more of just husband and wife; there were definitely fewer young kids, and lacrosse players were certainly much more likely to be carrying their own equipment. Players also arrived individually, whereas the appearance of an entire youth team often resembled something more like a parade – an entrance announcing, “That’s right; we’re here.”

Before the last of the youth players had left, the laxers playing in the Past Masters (for those 60 and older), Ultra Grand Masters (55+), and Super Grand Masters (50+) division were filing in gradually. The last youth game started at 12 noon, and by 1:15 it was hard to find a player under the age of 50 or a family larger than two or three people.

The “players with more experience” came in with airport tags hanging from their bags, with large boxes of jerseys, shorts, and hats for their teammates. While many of the kids had just played their fourth, fifth, or sixth tournament of the summer, many of the older players were playing for the first time since August 2014.

I think the athletic trainers were pretty spoiled in the first three days; there might have been a few concussions, maybe a few ankle sprains, but suddenly yesterday afternoon they were inundated by graying players asking for ice, tape, or help stretching – and that was two hours before their 3:00 or 4:15 games!

Players genuinely hugged one another, shook hands in earnest, and asked one another how they were doing – actions seldom seen by any teenager I know. The players with a few more miles on their odometers told one another about off-season surgeries, their grown kids, or why their other teammate couldn’t make it this year.

One other difference I noticed from the main tent was the noisiness of the older men. Coaches from the youth level to the college level can stress communication all the time, but for some reason, younger lacrosse players don’t – can’t? – seem to be able to talk effectively and play lacrosse at the same time. The more experienced players? They’re out there yelling, encouraging, and scolding their teammates from before the first whistle to long after the final whistle. The older players are also much more likely to help an injured teammate, talk civilly while the ball is at the opposite end of the field, and again shake hands in a gesture of appreciation and respect for the game, for their opponents, and for the sheer opportunity to play the game at least one more time.

I hope the younger players – both the ones who left town today, as well as the ones who will be coming into town here to play this weekend – take some time to watch the game these older players play.

There is just so much to learn… and so many great stories to be told!

Congratulations to the winners of the eight youth tournament divisions:

o FCA National HS Team in Boys’ 2016-2017 Gold
o 2017 Sweetlax National Team in Boys’ 2016-2017 Silver
o Western Royals U17 in Boys’ 2016-2017 Bronze
o 2018 Sweetlax National Team in Boys’ 2018-2019 Gold
o Flyers 2018-2019 in Boys’ 2018-2019 Silver
o Baby Blues in Girls’ 2016-2018 Gold
o Lady Eagles in Girls’ 2016-2018 Silver
o Common Goal 2019 Orange in Girls’ 2018-2020

Remember, please drive carefully!

- Dan Witmer - 315/529-5154