BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington Lacrosse Club hosted its third annual Wellington Lacrosse Classic last weekend at Village Park on Pierson Road. Teams from all over Florida gathered for the two-day tournament. Clubs competed in various age groups with divisions for boys and girls from ages 9 to 18.
The tournament has expanded each year since its inception. The inaugural year started with 37 teams competing, 54 in the second year. This year, the event grew to 87 teams from Tampa to Miami. “The tournament has grown tremendously in three years,” Tournament Director Joe Calby said.
Eight fields were used within the park to accommodate all the teams. It also marked the first year that all of the age divisions were represented. Teams participated in pool-play and competed for a playoff position in each division. Teams in the playoff brackets then battled to be crowned tournament champion.
The purpose of the tournament is two-fold; it promotes the sport of lacrosse while raising money for the Wellington High School lacrosse team. Since athletics in the public schools mostly depend on fundraisers, sponsorship and hard work by team members and their families is needed to raise the money necessary to maintain any program successfully. The tournament directs its efforts specifically in those areas. Coaches and parents volunteer their time planning and preparing, months in advance. They work the tournament in various capacities as well. Players and students can also volunteer to earn community service hours.
“Our staff has been great in contributing to the success of this tournament and the facilities as well. The turf is well-kept,” Calby said.
If spectators were hungry, they did not have to travel far; the tournament provided food at the concession stand during the two-day event. Volunteers worked diligently over hot grills to provide hamburgers and hotdogs, keeping up with the high demand.
The Wellington Lacrosse Club had four teams that participated in the event, a U-11, U-13, “Rising Stars” U-17 team and high school U-19 team. The U-13 team won the championship crown 7-6 against FCA Blue.
The club has also experienced much success off the field. The Wellington lacrosse community has created a sense of unity, in such a way that alumni return each year to assist with the operations of the tournament.
Calby was already looking forward to next year’s tournament. “It’s already in the works,” he said. “It will always be the first weekend in December.”
For more information about the Wellington Lacrosse Club or the Wellington Lacrosse Classic, visit www.wellingtonlaxclub.com.
ABOVE: Wellington Lacrosse Club midfielder Owen Thompson takes a shot on goal in the team’s second game of the tournament.