Breckenridge debuts adult-only lacrosse
Special to the Daily
Summit County adult lacrosse
What: Pick-up lacrosse games and practice
Where: Breckenridge Recreation Center turf field, 800 Airport Rd. in Breckenridge
When: Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
Cost: $5 for pick-up games (cost of July 11-12 tournament TBA)
Pickup games are open to players of any age. Bring a lacrosse stick, pads and cleats. For more info on the Quickstick Men’s Lacrosse Tournament, see http://www.townofbreckenridge.com.
They say that once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. The same can likely be said for just about any other sport.
Every Tuesday night, a group of adults is proving the old adage right with pick-up lacrosse games on the new turf field at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. They weren’t brought together with hopes of winning titles or setting records, but rather came out simply for the rare opportunity to get back into the game.
“I’ve been around for a long time, and I know there’s a lot of players that used to play lacrosse around; but, there’s not a lot of opportunity for these guys to play around here,” said David Morris, of Breckenridge.
He played lacrosse at Mary Washington University in Virginia until 2006. His days of playing competitive, high-level lacrosse may be over, but his love for the sport certainly is not. He started organizing the pick-up games in Breck about a month ago as a way for he and other locals to avoid traveling far beyond Summit County just to play.
But, what started as simply wanting to get some guys together to play quickly became much more.
“First day, we had about 12,” he said. “I honestly thought it wasn’t going to work, but then, it came together, and it just got bigger.”
Lacrosse for all
Through word-of-mouth, news of the pick-up games spread, and more players started showed up. Last week saw the highest turnout, drawing more than 20 players at the fields. The games have drawn a wide variety of former players, spread across a wide range of ages and playing experience. But, what they all share is a strong passion for the sport of lacrosse.
“I just love playing — it’s been so long,” said Adam Selmon, a goalie who lives in Breckenridge. “I don’t feel like my stick skills or my feet are anywhere where they used to be, but we’ll get it all back.”
He played lacrosse while growing up in New York, and, like many other players, he hadn’t touched the sport in some time.
“It just seemed like a fun time and a great opportunity to get back into this sport,” said Taylor Scott, another player at the pick-up games. “I hadn’t played since freshman year of college, which was seven years ago, so quite a while.”
Although the pick-up games are friendly, the sight of high-speed shots blurring through goal posts and the loud “thwack” of aggressive stick checks serve as a reminder that the games are still competitive.
“Sometimes I forget, and I’m like, ‘Alright, probably shouldn’t of checked him that hard,’” Brock Barto said. “But, everyone’s played before. They understand.”
These players understand because, after all, it’s the aggressive nature of the sport that brought most of them back out to play.
“Within the first few seconds of being out there, I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, this is awesome,’” Morris said.
Pick-up games to tourneys
Graham Bilenduke, a former high school player and father of recent Summit High grad and lacrosse player Jack Bilenduke, hadn’t played in a lacrosse game for 30 years.
“It’s a great time,” he said with a smile. “These guys keep me young at heart.”
He may have been the oldest player on the field, but his skills were anything but. He scored about eight goals in the team’s first pick-up game.
Over the last few weeks, the bunch has started to take the games a little more seriously. They have decided to take their skills to the next competitive level and have entered the Quickstick Lacrosse Tournament, an all-adult men’s tournament held July 11-12 in Breckenridge. Copper Mountain has even agreed to sponsor the players as “Team Copper Mountain” in the tournament.
“We’ll see how we do in the tournament,” Selmon said. “Most of the teams are good … We’re just worried about depth.”
Anyone who wants to join is welcome to participate in the pick-up games and tournament, but players must be 18 years or older to participate in the Quickstick tournament.
Regardless of how the team does next weekend, just being in a real game again will be the biggest thrill for most.
“I haven’t played in a real game in five years, so it will be fun no matter what,” Selmon said.
Passing it on
The games have also been a great training opportunity for Summit High lacrosse players. Many of them don’t have playing opportunities in the summertime, and the pick-up games have provided a chance for these younger players to get time on the field.
“There’s a lot of kids that don’t play during the off-season and wonder why they don’t get better,” Summit High student and lacrosse player Raymond Salazar said. “You have to do stuff like this.”
Although the players who haven’t graduated high school aren’t old enough to participate in the upcoming tournament, they are still getting a lot out of the experience by playing against bigger, more seasoned players. In return, the vets are also getting a lot out by playing with them.
“They’re some of the best players out there,” Morris said. “They have those fresh legs.”
Bilenduke’s son, Jack, has been using the pick-up games as an opportunity to train for playing at a higher level: He’ll join the Cornell College squad in the fall, but first, he will play with the guys in the Quickstick tournament. It will be his first adult-only lacrosse event.
“It’s great for me to be out here,” Jack said. “Even though I have the younger legs, they’ve played longer, which makes a difference. It’s also pretty inspirational to see these guys still playing and still loving it in their older years.”
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