June 15th, 2009
by Jay Gats
The US Lacrosse U-15 National Championship is set to begin July 6, 2009. It will be held in Bel Air, Md. at Cedar Lane Sports Park. The tournament will have boys and girls youth programs from across the nation, competing and representing their respective teams and regions. The girls will kick-off the event July 6, crowing their champion July 8, while the boys start July 8, finishing their National Championship July 10. This 5-day event is special for several reasons. It’s never been done before. And with the more recent trend in recruiting with college coaches striving to commit players at a younger age, it’s refreshing that this tournament has nothing to do with recruiting and everything to do with having fun, building strong competition, and honoring the game. US Lacrosse’s public relations manager Colleen Sperry Aungst explained the origins of the event to me, “Based on the success and positive participant and spectator experience of the US Lacrosse National Youth Festivals since 1998, there was a big desire to roll out a national championship event like this for the lacrosse community. It is our responsibility to take a leadership role in launching the inaugural event to establish a benchmark standard of quality and experience for everyone involved – players, coaches, parents and spectators. ”
In order for a team to register for the tournament they must be a member of US Lacrosse, which means that some states will have an advantage when representing their regions, like Maryland, New York, and New Jersey, simply due to the fact that they have more US Lacrosse members in those regions. The list of teams competing can be found on the US lacrosse site (http://www.uslacrosse.org/news/2009/u15ncteams.phtml).
The West coast amongst other areas has been developing strong youth programs within the past few years, but can they compete with the East coast? Former Johns Hopkins standout goalie Rob Scherr definitely believes so, “I know all those teams will do well. If you’re a great athlete it doesn’t matter where you’re from.” Colleen agreed, “The breadth and scope of lacrosse talent is far reaching these days. There are incredibly competitive teams coming to the National Championship from all over the country.”
Perhaps some new rivalries as intense as the ones Maryland and New York natives are used to will begin at this tournament. One thing is for sure. Come July there will be two new U-15 lacrosse champions, but where will they be from? Tune in to E-Lacrosse to find out.