Space Needle Shootout No. 9, and Farewell to Fred…


The Mayans were right; 2012 is the end.

By McNutty

The 9th annual Space Needle Shootout was held this last weekend in Tukwila and as usual, it had some good lacrosse, some memorable moments, some really good feelings, and this year, the end of an era.

Fred Wilmot and his wife Paula Wilkinson have been running the Shootout since it began. I don’t know all the historical stats, but let’s just agree that it started small with just a couple of teams a bunch of years ago, and now has blossomed into a great big stinking-wonderful deal. I do know that over 1300 kids and 66 teams from four states and Canada attended this year, making it both the largest lax tourney in the northwest, and the largest international tourney west of the Mississippi.

Fred and Paula decided that the Mayans were right, and that this year would be their last. While they’ve left the future Shootouts in good hands, they will certainly be missed. It has been a labor of love in every sense of the word, and the two of them gave so much just so we could freeze in the rain. You won’t find two more humble, wonderful people in Washington lacrosse, and they likely had a lot to do with your kid’s love of the game.

This year the weather was pretty much mixed. The cold, wind and rain made their regular appearance, but so did the sun and the warmth. Also making their standard appearance were the Canadian teams. After having a down year in 2011, meaning they didn’t sweep the championships, (they won 2 of 4) the boys from the north returned with a vengeance. Of the eight teams in the four championship games, six of them were Canadians. Throughout the whole weekend there was much domination by the fellas with the hard hits, the box helmets and no off-hands. Kudos to them and especially their parents and fans. They are a classy bunch of grateful folks, for the most part, and they travel a long way to support the dreams of their kids. And kudos to Bellevue Lacrosse, which placed the only American teams in the championships and won both the U-12 and U-18 titles.

This year’s lacrosse featured some new faces. Newly crowned DII champs Snohomish fielded a U-18 team for the first time, getting their crew their first look at what the year in DI might look like. Also debuting U-18 Shootout teams were perennial Washington powerhouse Mercer Island and a squad all the way from Bend, Oregon.

Watching the lacrosse down on the fields certainly makes me long for March and the start of the regular season. But the place I enjoy the most is upstairs in the pizza joint. It’s nice to get warm, and it’s nice to see the community getting together and flapping their gums. Referees, players, parents, siblings and coaches are all jammed in the only warm place around, sharing tables and swapping stories. It’s great to hear about how the seasons have gone for the boys up north, and talk with the Americans about the seasons to come. Alumni players from Shootouts past pepper the restaurant, and you can tell this is an event that has a good place in their hearts. Lots of rumors and opinions about lacrosse in the Northwest were floating around, but we’ll discuss those at another time. If you’re lucky enough to have a kid playing on Field #2, you can step outside and watch the game from the best seats in the complex; the outside balcony. You get a bird’s eye view of the game and are an arm’s length from the beer taps. It was usually pretty crowded out there during the game, packed with people whose job is apparently to help the referees on the field perform a little better.

As I’m sure you can tell, I had a great weekend and I think it’s a harbinger of good lacrosse to come. I can’t wait for the start of another season and it’s just around the corner. The Washington Stealth’s training camp started this weekend, the season opener is imminent, (January 5th) and the outdoor season will be here before you know it. But it all starts with the Space Needle Shootout, and we’ve just put another one in the books.

Full Tournament Photos – 26 Galleries!  Here.

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