BY GENE NARDI
Last weekend, Team Florida Lacrosse hosted its annual tournament to kick off the summer. The PDQ Palm Beach Blast is in its 13th year and continues to grow each year.
The tournament outgrew its Boca Raton venue at St. Andrews a few years ago and sought a facility that could accommodate the popular lacrosse meet.
“We have 135 teams this year, so we’ve added about 30 teams from last year,” Tournament Director Tom West said. “We’re using a total of 18 fields and the polo grounds to accommodate all the teams we have.”
Teams from Jacksonville to Miami gathered at Wellington’s Village Park and the International Polo Club Palm Beach grounds to compete. The tournament filled 10 divisions from ages 9 to 19 and participated in group play, where teams advance to a playoff round to determine the tournament champion.
“The economic impact is crazy, with 75 percent of the teams from out of the area,” West said.
The tournament has become so popular, West explained, that if teams did not submit their team registrations by April, they would not get in to the tournament as a participating team.
Team Florida Lacrosse is one of the state’s largest lacrosse organizations promoting the growth of the sport. They coordinate an entire tournament circuit in Tampa and the Palm Coast that draws local competition.
“Most of the teams that compete are from the South Florida area,” West said. “So they don’t have to travel very far to compete, which helps with the cost.”
Lacrosse continues to be one of the fastest-growing sports in Florida. That is probably why there were close to 40 high school teams registered to compete over the weekend, many from the tri-county area.
Wellington is an ideal venue for the tournament. Teams do not have to travel far, with lodging, shopping and dining near the fields. Combine that with the best athletic facilities in the area, and it is clear why Team Florida Lacrosse has called Wellington its home for the past four years.
For more information on the PDQ Palm Beach Blast Lacrosse Tournament or Team Florida Lacrosse, visit www.flunitedlax.com.
ABOVE: In the U17 division, a Team Bayside attacker tries to get around a Sarasota Seahawk defender.