2016 Vail Lacrosse Shootout

27
Jun

2016 Vail Lacrosse Shootout

VAIL — The 44th annual Vail Lacrosse Shootout is underway, bringing as many memories with it as players involved.

The nine-day event started Saturday with masters play at Ford Park, and will continue through Sunday, wrapping up with elite male and female divisions.

Colorado has established itself as a powerhouse in the world of lacrosse during the past decade or so, with the Colorado Mammoth professional team winning the championship in 2006, Colorado hosting the World Lacrosse Championships — a once-every-four-years event — in 2014 and the University of Denver lacrosse team winning the NCAA national championships in 2015.

Along the way, however, the Vail Lacrosse Shootout has also played a big role in the establishment of the sport’s prowess in this state, said longtime tournament attendee Chris Gabrielsen.

“Back in the day you didn’t have professional outdoor lacrosse, just professional indoor, so all the guys who played professional indoor also played out here,” Gabrielsen said from Vail on Friday. “This was where you came. This was it.”

Gabrielsen said the tournament has maintained its charm throughout time, which is why the “lacrosse mafia,” as he calls it, continues to visit Vail every summer to enjoy the tournament.

“A lot of us here are Wall Streeters and we talk about business during the tournament,” he said. “I’ve hired guys from this tournament, I’ve been hired myself from this tournament, you talk about networking, you can go on LinkedIn all you want, there’s nothing like Vail.”

LACROSSE SEASON IN VAIL

The shootout has helped transform the town into a lacrosse town not only while it is here, but throughout the spring and summer. Its success has spurred other tournaments to try Vail as a venue, and those tournaments have found success, as well.

On Wednesday, the 21st Annual Vail Lacrosse Tournament wrapped up after bringing approximately 100 youth teams to Vail from across the nation. The Vail Lacrosse Tournament added two new age groups to the sixth- and seventh-grade boys’ divisions this year and expanded the high school boys’ division.

Tournament director Kristen Foster said it has been amazing to see kids learn and grow through the sport.

“It’s such a positive experience for everyone,” she said. “Plus, when they’re not playing, they’re exploring Vail with families and taking in the beauty of the valley.”

NCAA coaches from Princeton, Cornell, Michigan, Colorado College and Whittier were also in town during the Vail Lacrosse Tournament to see players and give them their input.

“Kids are getting scholarships to play at Drexel and Penn and Princeton and Harvard — these are great schools,” Gabrielsen said. “You can go down the rosters now and there are kids from Colorado on almost every single team.”

The Vail Valley Lacrosse Club started recently to accommodate the local interest in the sport. Three years ago, when the club hired athletic director Chris Bivona, there were no coaches on staff. Today, there are 23.