Summer is off to an awesome start in Upstate New York, and things are only heating up. This weekend I’ll be celebrating lacrosse at the 5th annual Saratoga Springs Shootout, the epitome of a youth summer lacrosse festival. Co-hosted by none other than Summit Lacrosse Ventures and Rhino Lacrosse, the Shootout combines great competition for boys at the junior varsity level and below with an excellent family-oriented atmosphere.
We’ve seen a strong showing from LaxAllStars partnered events this year, and I can’t wait to see what these guys have in store for Saratoga Springs in year five. Saratoga is a staple in the top places to visit in New York during the summertime.A major concert venue just outside of town and world-class horse racing brings thousands to the area every summer.
The historic downtown is complimented by the beauty of the surrounding lakes and wooded hills. While the area might seem sleepy in due to its stoic architecture and boundless natural serenity, there is actually plenty of excitement to be had.
The Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs – Photo by Ron C on Flickr
All of these factors add up to create an ideal environment to grow the game and really embrace lacrosse as not just a sport, but as a culture. Ever since its fruition, Ryan Powell, founder of Rhino Lacrosse, has had the vision to make this event a celebration of our game.
The tournament format overseen by Summit Lacrosse Ventures is known to offer up three days of stiff competition, and players who experience the Saratoga Springs Lacrosse Shoutout don’t just enjoy it because of the close games. It’s the lessons in camaraderie, on-field adversity they overcome as a result of them, the lessons in camaraderie, and opportunities for personal skill development they regard the most. This shouldn’t be surprising if you know Rhino Lacrosse. The company’s dedication to building playing opportunities that combine quality team experiences with individual skill development is second to none.
At the Shootout, players and parents can join in celebrating lacrosse at the opening night ceremonies and take advantage of free pro player clinics and coaching clinics each day. There’s also a players-only lounge, a 3-on-3 mini lax tournament, and a solid vendor village for the gear heads.
Ben Gaebel, former Cortland State great, giving a goalie clinic
Seventy-four teams will represent six different youth divisions over the course of the weekend. Six champions will be crowned Sunday, but every player and parent in attendance will come out a winner thanks to an amazing lacrosse experience and family-oriented weekend. Plenty of great food will be available on site, as well will the much anticipated Powell Fun Zone.
The Powell Fun Zone will be exactly what it sounds like, and I have to say that this is one of those many many moments when I wish I could be a kid again. The Powell brothers were really the first lacrosse players I idolized, and I’ve become an even bigger fan in recent years as I’ve encountered the family off the field. When you hear “Powell” you can think of amazing plays and championships, but behind all the highlight reels is a great family with amazing values. If there’s anyone to have a family-friendly tournament celebrating lacrosse, it’s a friendly family.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Saratoga Lacrosse Shootout last year, and I really enjoyed what I saw. The entire tournament is held at one central location, with fields spread out far enough that they aren’t backed up to each other. Still, not too far as to be more than a five minute walk to any given field.
Truth is I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with club youth lacrosse, but the ‘love’ column scored a couple 2-pointers after last year’s experience. Some clubs bring just one team, some bring two or more for every division. While the debate over the function of club lacrosse is far from over, what wasn’t debatable was the level of instant camaraderie between players who might not necessarily know each other all that well. I watched club lacrosse bring kids together across teams and across age groups, and it was really cool. These kids clearly enjoyed celebrating lacrosse!
Off the field, kids with lacrosse sticks will be found all over the town of Saratoga Springs. I ventured out of town with a couple friends to catch a Phish show, and sure enough there were kids with sticks playing catch on the lawn of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).
Saratoga Performing Arts Center | Photo via DiscoverSaratoga.org
If you’ve never taken in a show at SPAC, I heavily recommend looking them up for a concert this summer! Third Eye Blind will be playing on Saturday night of the tournament, and I can say firsthand that they put on an awesome concert – appropriate fun for the whole family! Tedeschi Trucks Band is playing the day after the tournament, and I can’t honestly tell you a thing about them, but my father says they’re good… so take that for what you will.
Catching some great lacrosse is a guarantee. Some of the top players and teams from all over New York will be coming up from Long Island and the city to play against the top talent from all over the greater Albany region. There are also teams coming in from other areas Upstate and beyond.
We’re in for a great weekend celebrating lacrosse in Saratoga Springs! We hope to meet you there. If you’re unable to make it, be sure to follow along on the LaxAllStars Instagram where I’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the experience.