I can readily admit that the competition in Lake Placid is the cream of the crop, at every age level. And yet, even with all this amazing lacrosse being played, Placid isn’t so much an all-out-war style tournament as it is a festival, a true celebration of our sport and the larger community.
Groups of enthusiasts funnel in through the vendor village, speckled at first, then by the droves.
A crowd of fifty-five-year-old men in matching outfits here.
A large family with rambunctious children there.
A legendary NCAA coach and his two high school teammates right in front of you.
A group of teenagers laughing and carrying on, well… everywhere!
This is an event for every-last-one of us. An event for lacrosse fanatics, where we congregate to watch three generations of athletes simultaneously play the game we love. It’s magical. This may sound cheesy or overwrought to those who have never been, but it’s really the only way to describe Placid for those of us attracted to this stick-ball game.
For the last 29 years, the Leveille family and their world-class, lax-minded staff have been masterminding and orchestrating this week-long event that fields roughly 250 teams, their friends, their families, and their fans. You do the math. It’s a lot of people and a lot of lacrosse!
When the Lake Placid Summit Classic comes to town, the streets of downtown Lake Placid begin to resemble a crowded boardwalk overnight. The dedicated visitors migrate through a lake town that, just a week prior, was the definition of quaint and quiet. Stores stay open for a few extra hours, every paddle board gets rented out, and the staff at the local ice cream shop braces for a never-ending storm of children, teenagers, and adults alike.
The lacrosse action comes at you from all sides when you are in Placid. The first day of the 2018 event culminated with the UWLX semi-finals. Women’s pro lacrosse, in Placid, at the greatest event on Earth. It was an absolute treat for all fans. And there were some truly special moments. On the sidelines you could see Gary Gait, folded in amongst us regular folks as he watched his daughter play.
He seemed to have no other focus but watching his kid play for the right to progress to the championship. The ability to allow arguably the greatest player in the history of the game to turn back into a lacrosse dad, and enjoy a very meaningful game in a relaxed atmosphere, is no small feat. But Placid does just that.
The next day, the championship games began for the first divisions to play. As they walked off the fields, their places were taken by teams with an average age of, let’s say… fifty? Young people in flat brimmed hats were replaced by well-established gentlemen in well-bolstered knee braces.
Kids have a good time, we all know that, but somehow the atmosphere lightened even further during these hours. Stories related back to old friends, old sticks, and of fond memories were murmured all across the fields. People’s families intertwined and new friendships were made. This is classic Placid.
Little moments that make up the greatness of Lake Placid are innumerable. Notre Dame’s incoming freshman class of women formed a club team and won their division. Dom Starsia was honored with a Legends award. The Queener family was honored with the first ever Grow The Game Award. The first-ever 65 and over exhibition game was played. An inaugural women’s master’s game was played. Ben & Jerry attended the event and then got annoyed when I bugged them for a photograph.
For every obvious moment that the lacrosse community can dwell on fondly, there are countless small moments that each Placid-goer will take home and cherish for a lifetime.
Next year is the 30th anniversary. If you need me during that week, you can find me in the mountains. I hope to see you all there!