Snow can’t stop lacrosse season opening tourney
March 8, 2011
By Ari Cetron
Lacrosse is a tough sport. The game is constantly in motion, and coupled with swinging sticks and minimal padding, players need to be dedicated to succeed. Local lacrosse families proved their dedication Feb. 26, when they shoveled hundreds of square yards of fields in order for the unofficial opening tournament of the season to happen.
Eastside Catholic Youth Lacrosse was sponsoring the tournament for boys youth lacrosse teams around the region. They’d been planning the event for months, said Scott Kelly, president of the league. They’d lined up fields and found 22 teams with about 450 players ready to go.
But they hadn’t been planning for a few inches of snow and sub-freezing temperatures just prior to the tournament.
The day before the tournament, Kelly said he and a few other organizers went out to check on the fields.
“Friday morning, we realized the snow wasn’t going to melt,” Kelly said.
Instead of giving up, they dug in, literally. The league rounded up lacrosse families from around the area and, armed with shovels, they cleared the snow from the two fields at Eastside Catholic.
The artificial turf fields were too delicate to allow the use of machinery, so about 75 players and parents shoveled.
It’s not like shoveling a sidewalk, where they could just fling the extra snow off to the side, Kelly noted. Shovelers had to trudge from the center of the lacrosse field – roughly the same size as a football field – to dispose of the snow.
The group cleared two fields at Eastside Catholic and one at Skyline before moving on to the two fields at Eastlake. By that time, Kelly said, they’d managed to round up about 100 players and parents.
The Eastlake fields, which had seen heavy foot traffic over the course of the week, posed an extra problem, Kelly said. Wherever someone had stepped, that area had turned icy and needed to be chipped away by hand, delicately.
The grueling work took hours and went on after sunset. But in the dark and cold, the group finished, at least, they finished enough. Kelley said the important things were to clear enough that players wouldn’t slip too much, and that they would be able to see the various lines on the field, which are crucial to the game.
“You can’t get every bit of snow,” he said.
The fields were ready, but on game day, there were other problems. For example, Kelly said, boys typically use white lacrosse balls. Which could create a bit of confusion.
“Is that a snow ball or is that a lacrosse ball?” Kelly said.
They switched to the yellow balls typically used in girl’s lacrosse.
And the players true to lacrosse traditions, were out playing in shorts, even though the temperature was, literally, freezing.
Kelly said that actually made the day a bit more fun.
“The novelty of the snow made it kind of Woodstock-like,” he said.
Besides the fun of playing, many players found a way to honor Tyler Lucas, an Issaquah high student and lacrosse player who was recently killed in a car crash.
Lucas had diabetes, and so players are purchasing a decal that says TL in yellow and purple – Lucas’ initials in his school’s colors. The proceeds from the sale are going to fund diabetes research, Kelly said.
“It’s sweeping the entire lacrosse community,” he said.
The tournament itself was a raging success, Kelly said. Over 10 hours, they played 33 games on four fields. It was a jamboree-style tournament, so there was no official champion, but Kelly said the Eastside Catholic teams faired well.
The whole experience, he said, also helped the lacrosse community on the plateau to grow closer.
“It kind of gave the whole tournament some karma about it,” he said.