The Eagle’s Eye Summit Lacrosse Classic junior and high school tournament returned to Summit County this weekend for its fifth year. And for the first time since the tournament began, a home team was in the mix, a credit to the newly formed Summit Stix Lacrosse Club.
As part of a concerted effort to grow lacrosse in the county, local husband and wife Cameron and Doug Laidlaw founded the club — composed mostly of the Summit High boys team members along with a few younger players — earlier this summer.
“Our idea was to improve the transition from youth lacrosse into high school,” Doug Laidlaw told the Daily. “Once the boys get into high school they’re not playing enough. Hopefully this club will put us on a more level playing field.”
He explained that Summit area players — who previously only really played during the spring high school season — have been at a disadvantage compared with kids in Front Range programs with year-round clubs.
Cameron added, “We wanted to start something sooner so these guys don’t just pick up a stick in the spring time.”
As for the club’s early success, Doug said, “I think the program to date has exceeded our expectations. People are really looking forward to the future.”
The couple said they hope to add both a girls and juniors program to the mix in the future.
This summer the club was coached by Mike O’Neill, a three-time All-American lacrosse player for Johns Hopkins University, as well as members of the current Summit High staff.
After practicing twice a week all summer long, the team faced its first live game action in this weekend’s tournament. Summit went 1-2 in three consecutive close games Saturday. The Stix fell 7-4 to Fairview in its first game, after finishing the first half with the lead. The team followed that with a tight 4-3 win over Douglas and a 7-4 loss to Steamboat Springs. Both Fairview and Steamboat went undefeated in the first day of the tournament and will play for the championship Sunday. Summit will match up against Durango and an opponent yet to be determined.
This year’s Summit Lacrosse Classic featured only five teams, down from around 12 in years past. Organizers cited a scheduling conflict surrounding the World Lacrosse Games, which Denver hosted in July. Tournament co-founder Brandt Hodgson expects the tournament to grow in years to come. Previous years have included junior level teams in addition to high school clubs.
Speaking to the future of the Summit Stix program, Doug Laidlaw said he hopes to have enough support to run the club through the fall. This year, however, the club will end operations at the start of the high school sports fall schedule, Aug. 11.
“They’re aren’t any concrete plans yet,” he said of the future. “As the club grows we hope to participate in more fall tournaments.”