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Road Trip Dad - Lake Placid Last Day and Final Thoughts

By Dan Witmer, 08/10/16, 11:15AM EDT

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We crowned ten more divisional champions on Sunday and finished the 2016 Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic without too much fuss or controversy. Games ended around 2:30 PM, and after I finished collecting and then uploading the few final scores, the place started to empty out and look pretty desolate. It’s amazing how quickly the players and their families can jump in their cars and be gone!

 

Looking back, I had stopped in at the North Elba Athletic Fields on Sunday night when I got into town; now I was one of the last people to leave the site of more than 550 games. Eric and Sam were going to take the RV down to Ithaca and then drive back up to Oswego on Monday. I loaded my cooler up with iced tea, filled the gas tank, and hit the road for one of my most favorite road trips – Lake Placid to Oswego (Oswego to LP is another favorite!).

 

It’s a beautiful, four-hour drive, one of the most scenic and nostalgic routes I know. The old drive-in, the 1,000 Animals tourist trap, Ames, and so many other stores and businesses that either folded up or moved… the family camping trips, the overnight canoe and hiking expeditions, and the rainy days spent at the movies and laundromats... all of it comes back to me as I navigate the winding roads, the RVs and campers, and the changing speed limits.

 

I hit Watertown around 7 PM, so I stopped in at Five Guys and got a burger and medium fries. The burger was in the bottom of the bag, buried under the oversized order of fries. Digging the burger out reminded me of the days when my brothers and I had to dig through the breakfast cereal to find the toy inside the box – there were THAT many fries.

 

Coming down the home stretch of I-81, I thought of today’s summary of the 27th annual Summit Lacrosse Tournament – a Letterman-style Top Ten. Maybe not the most original of ideas, but fairly easy to organize and assemble.

 

So, with apologies to Mr. Letterman, here are…

 

MY TOP TEN TAKEAWAYS AT THE 2016 LAKE PLACID LACROSSE TOURNAMENT

 

10 Facebook posts I’ve enjoyed all the Facebook posts from players and parents (and both!) complete with beautiful pictures, compliments, and praise for the 2016 Summit Tournament. Although I’m not very active on Facebook, I do admit to spending time scrolling through other people’s posts, and it’s great to see that there are lots of people who seem to be enjoying themselves as much as I am! I also love how everyone seems to make sure that those iconic ski jumps – or Whiteface Mountain, or the Olympic Torch – are somewhere in the background.

 

9 The alumni teams Not only is it great to see groups of alumni coming together – maybe just once a year – to reunite and play as teammates once more, but the creative names are awesome: the Big Red Steelheads, Creaky Crimson, Olden Flyers, Black and Blue Jays, Maryland Hardshells, Grey’d Danes, Burnt Orange, etc. When I bumped into Colgate alum Rich Moc at the main tent, I asked him if he was playing with the Creaky Gates or the Creakier Gates (two Colgate teams in different age groups). Then, when I asked if the next iteration would be the Creakiest Gates, he quickly replied, “No, we might just skip to ‘Pearly.’” Like I said, awesome!

 

8 The MLL Alumni Game Genius! Half the former MLL players were probably planning to be in Lake Placid anyway – why not entice stars like Gary Gait, Josh Sims, Chris Massey, and Tim Soudan into suiting up just one more time? In reality, it gives Kevin and Mike Leveille an opportunity to play together on a field filled with talent – or they can play against one another if they choose. Just one more reason why the Lake Placid Tournament is at least a notch or two above all the rest.

 

7 The Lake Placid Legends Again, the list of LP Legends, first named two years ago at the 25th Summit, is a Who’s Who of the local and national lacrosse community. Congratulations to Bill Bergan, Andi LeMire O’Connor, and Brent Riley on their 2016 induction. The Thursday evening celebration also managed to raise $1,000 for the City Lax, Inc organization; talk about a Win-Win!

 

6 The Rookies of the Year You won’t hear about this anywhere other than right here, a genuine RTD exclusive: at our third annual Sunday morning paper plate awards presentation, two first-year table workers were recognized for their quality performances over the course of the week. Congratulations to Owen White and Christina Burnam on their accomplishment; we look forward to working with you both again next summer!

 

5 The Coaches Maybe one of my favorite aspects of the LP tournament is seeing all the college coaches all week long – and most of them aren’t even there to coach. Sure, in the first three days a bunch of CNY and New England D-III coaches come to check out the scholastic talent, but most of the time the college coaches are there to just watch their own kids play, or they’re there to play themselves. Gerry Byrne, Lelan Rogers, Lars Tiffany, Shawn Nadelen, Bill Bergan, Jake Coon, Steve Scarammuzino – this is their chance to strap on the old bucket and (hopefully) practice what they preach all year long to their own players. I also saw Scott Marr, Rob Randall, and other college coaches just attending their school’s alumni team games. Awesome!

 

4 Competition Director If I can pat myself on the back for a second… After recording, writing, and uploading the scores of some 550+ games at this year’s tournament, I can attest that the tournament schedule simply rocked this year, and I felt – maybe for the first time ever – like I was on top of things all week long. Sure, some of the 8, 10, 12, and 16 team divisions could practically run themselves, but then there was that eight-team, Men’s GM 1-2 division that crowned two winners after four games, and the 13-team Boys Gold division that had two pools of four teams and one pool of five. I got stumped temporarily when Bobby Dix was asking questions about the Silver GM championship round, but even that worked out perfectly. I don’t know how George Leveille does it, but his scheduling this year was his best ever. I told him to make sure he saved this year’s entire schedule, and just re-use it – exactly – next year.

 

3 Eric’s Growing Role I’m pretty sure this was the ninth year that Eric and I worked for the LP Tournament, and each year his role has grown. From his first few years working on random score tables to more recent duties working all “the big games,” last year he graduated to supervising the workers at all six NEAF sites instead. This year he was sent down to the Horse Show Grounds and given the responsibility to supervise the overall operations of those five fields. He flew back to New York from Denver just to work this year’s Tournament, and he promises he’ll be back again next year.

 

2 The RV Ah yes, the 1981 Shasta. 2016 will always be remembered in the Witmer house as the Summer of the RV; the ironic part is that for the week of the Tournament, owner Brian Witmer was in Europe. RV-mate, Vermont Voyageur teammate, and Brockport buddy Sam Miller jumped at the chance to work at both the LP Youth Tournament (with Brian) and the 27th annual Summit Tournament (with Eric). Summit Lacrosse Venture management allowed the boys to park the Shasta in the parking lot all week, and there it sat, American flag flying, a great spot to pick up a freshly made breakfast sandwich each morning. Unfortunately, now the darned thing sits on our front lawn – anyone interested in buying the now-famous 1981 Shasta? Please?

 

1 The SLV Management I’m really not trying to sound like a brown-noser, apple-polisher, or suck-up, but I’ve got to acknowledge the group that makes the whole thing happen. What used to be a single event run by George Leveille and friends is now part of a bigger conglomeration, and the group is growing in expanse, quality, and efficiency with every event. George has stayed on as Strategic Advisor, while Ashley Gersuk Murphy serves as CEO. Kevin Leveille is Brand Director and Blake Schierer is Program and Event Director. Together they have a hand in tournaments from Saratoga Springs to Lake Tahoe, boys’ tournaments as well as girls’. I was fortunate enough to work at three of their events this summer, and one thing they all had in common was the compliments from parents, coaches, and players. “You’re the best!” they said. I have to agree.

 

Later, as I exited I-81 at Pulaski, I decided I’d had enough E Street Radio, so I put in an Essential Bob Dylan CD I’d picked up recently. Thinking of all the good times, sights, and scenes from another memorable week at Lake Placid, this Dylan classic suddenly took on an entirely new meaning for me:

 

"Forever Young"

 

May God bless and keep you always/May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others/And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars/And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

 

May you grow up to be righteous/May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth/And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous/Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

 

May your hands always be busy/May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation/When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful/And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

 

All week long, I watched as players enjoyed this wonderful game. Some were, in fact, young; others were young-er (than others). Some were young-ish. Many were probably too old to play high-quality lacrosse. But last week, for seven consecutive days in a tiny New York village famous for its miracles, some 252 different teams were indeed “Forever Young.” The miracle continues. Schools are back in session all around the country, fall sports are gearing up around these parts of Upstate, and motorcycles, RVs, and bicycles are everywhere. Drive carefully, everyone!

 

- Dan Witmer daniel.witmer@oswego.edu