Some random thoughts, basking in the afterglow of a great event, the 2014 Seatown Classic
Three hours before the game, in a driving rainstorm, Notre Dame and Team USA players put on a clinic for area players. Selling out quickly, the clinics were attended by over 450 players from all over the NW including Oregon, Idaho and Vancouver Island. Ignoring the weather, the young players eagerly accepted words of wisdom and instruction from the older players and were wildly enthusiastic at the opportunity to be with their lacrosse heroes. A highlight of the day was lacrosse icon Paul Rabil leading 400 kids in cheers and getting mercilessly heckled by the fun loving youth players.
One of Rabil’s college teammates at Johns Hopkins was Team USA’s Jesse Schwartzman. By all accounts, Schwartzman is a fierce goalie. He’s widely considered the best keeper in the world and has been near the top since he graduated from Johns Hopkins. He’s a yeller, screamer and scowler and on Saturday things got even more intense when his team fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter. In fairness to Schwartzman, all the shots came from inside 7 yards, as Team USA’s interior defense was apparently jet-lagged. “Lots of our guys had just flown in that morning or late the night before,“ said Schwartzman, “and most of us hadn’t played since the summer. We were a little rusty on defense, initially.” But Team USA wasn’t just rusty, they were getting beat like a rented mule and tension was high among the
defenders. Schwartzman worked through his own personal angst by laying out a few Irishmen, with some vicious checks as they drove to or near the cage. Late in the 2nd quarter you could see the FieldTurf melting from the fire coming out of Schwartzman’s nose. The sideline was filled with people happy that they weren’t the one who had just missed their slide.
Which makes Schwartzman’s postgame demeanor all the more surprising and impressive. He was gentle, kind and soft-spoken, heaping praise on the event organizers for what he said was an outstanding event. “I am continually surprised at how far west good lacrosse has come,” said Schwartzman after the game. He couldn’t have been more attentive and gentlemanly, signing lots of autographs before running out to catch the evening’s Phish concert at Key Arena. No wonder so many teammates love playing in front of the guy.
The marquee father-son story of the day was obviously US Lacrosse’s Kris Snider, getting to watch his son Drew shine on the field as a midfielder for Team USA. “I’m actually nervous before a game for the first time in awhile” Poppa
Snider shared, “I just want him to do well.” Drew fulfilled his father’s wishes by playing well, getting an early goal and becoming the overwhelming fan favorite at the event. I’m guessing you’re all going need to sign up a little earlier for those Cityside Lax clinics as they’ll be filling up even more quickly now. As an aside, Drew flew down to Denver after the game where he joined fellow Cityside lax founder Chris O’Dougherty as they received their MLL World Championship rings at the Broncos/49ers football game at Mile High Stadium. How cool is that?
This Seatown Classic was another example of how much father Kris Snider has done for WA lacrosse, even now after his kids have left the nest. But there are many other empty nesters that make WA lacrosse events like this, and most others, possible, long after they have any children playing high school lacrosse in WA.
For example, event organizer, Ron Wright, was all over the Starfire fields and the radios on Saturday, even as his son Alex prepared for fall ball at Oberlin College in Ohio. Pam and Rich Jenness staffed the US Lacrosse booth while son Barrett suits up for his sophomore season at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Lou Lucchesi volunteered to be field
manager on Saturday even though his three kids are now playing at University of Tampa. Mark Hahn organized the vendors for the Seatown Classic just like he used to organize his son Brady in his playing days at Issaquah. Game announcer Jim Anderson’s son now plays at Gonzaga. And even the three photographers from SoundLacrosse all have players who are off playing college lacrosse, i.e. no longer involved in the high school game. These are just a few of the many volunteers who consistently make Washington Lacrosse happen, even though they no longer have kids playing in the game. It’s an amazingly generous bit of volunteerism and without it our sport wouldn’t be where it is today.
As far as gameplay goes, Notre Dame’s demise came in the 3rd quarter, during a two-minute non-releasable penalty called on a hit that targeted the head of a Team USA attackman. Team USA poured in six unanswered goals during those two minutes of being man-up and the Irish could never really respond after that. Notre Dame is obviously good, but no one can be good enough to play the US National team man-down for that long. It was a good opportunity for young WA players to witness the impact and consequences of unsafe play. It might feel good to deliver a huge hit, but it hurts to sit in the penalty box helplessly watching your teammates give up six man-down goals. The rules now take big hits out of the game, and that’s not going to change, so players (and parents) need to learn how to live with it.
Fans witnessed their first NCAA play under the new 2015 rules. New faceoff procedures, midfield over and back rules, and a half-hearted attempt at a shot clock all made their WA debuts on Saturday. The odds are you didn’t notice, and probably won’t throughout the 2015 college season. The high school rule changes are even subtler, so no real need to pay attention if you’re in the stands.
Another thing you may not have noticed was the referees. We were fortunate to have two renown NCAA refs come out to work the game. Steve Miller and Spike Decker, both veterans of multiple championship games, worked along side a local ref, our own Aaron Koransky.
Additionally, Miller and Decker gave a clinic the night before to a group of WALOA referees, providing great insight into the new rule changes as well as providing great lacrosse tales from their storied careers. The fact you didn’t notice them during the game is usually a sign of a job well done. “A good referee is like a waiter at a fine dining restaurant,” says Miller, “They take the order, serve the meal, get paid and go home. The meal is remembered but the waiter goes unnoticed.”
A record 3,657 fans in a packed facility, what does that mean for next year’s venue? Can US Lacrosse’s WA chapter top this year’s event in 2015? There’s no denying the 2014 Seatown Classic was an overwhelming success. The two best teams ever to play in the state, featuring a couple of hometown players in front of the largest Seatown crowd ever, in a game that was well-played, competitive, and up-in-the air until the last couple of minutes. Kudos to the Washington Chapter of US Lacrosse and thank you for a great event.