Early fall is a chance to get back to the roots of the game of lacrosse . To get away from the huge tournaments and the pressure put on the shoulders of 16 and 17 year olds trying to impress sidelines of coaches. Smaller tournaments all over the country give high school, youth, and post-college players alike the chance to simply enjoy a weekend of lacrosse.
Fall lacrosse tournaments have a unique feeling to them.
It’s a combination of the changing of the weather and the colors of the leaves on the trees. Checking college football and NFL scores in between games with a hot cocoa or coffee in your hands. These tournaments are where muddy grass fields and hoodies worn under pinnies are a timeless combination.
The Ellicottville Lacrosse Festival bridged the summer to the fall as it was one of the last weekends of warm weather. With a big contingent of men’s open teams made up of post college and older players as well as several youth and high school teams it was a fun, but competitive weekend of games and good times in the beautiful ski town of Ellicottville.
The tournament is run by Powell Lacrosse’s own Ryan Powell as well as Mike Riordan who dreamt up the tournament three years ago and have created something special. Both of them also play in the tournament with RP playing with the Finnerty’s Tap Room team and Riordan with Team Tarzan. It could be compared to Lake Placid or Vail, but it is distinctly different as fall has begun with Buffalo Bills flags fly in the windows of this Western New York town and Ellicottville Brewing Company breaking out its Oktoberfest brews.
Ellicottville has embraced this festival of lacrosse with open arms and the community welcomes the the youngsters making a big pile around a groundball and their dads slinging the ball around on the opposite field. The men’s open teams were there to win with plenty of hard fought battles and pushing and shoving going on igniting that competitive spirit in the shadow of the mountains.
The Ellicottville Lacrosse Festival will surely continue to grow as it offers players of all ages a chance to play at a time of year when it is the only tournament of its kind.
This past weekend I was also able to go to the 3 Nations Classic, which is definitely not your typical tournament thanks to the games being played at the Buffalo Bills stadium, New Era Field.
A week before, the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots battled on the same turf that young lacrosse players got to dodge, take faceoffs, and celebrate in the endzone after goals on. The 3 Nations Lacrosse Classic features teams from the United States, Canada, and the Iroquois Nation creating a great mix of talent as well as an opportunity to learn from different play styles. On a chilly weekend I found myself jealous of these young lacrosse players who all got a chance to play in one of the coolest venues I have ever been able to step foot in.
I can’t think of another tournament anywhere in the country where youth teams get to play in an NFL stadium. It’s a special experience for not only the players, but for the parents and coaches as well. It’s not everyday you are able to hang out on the 50 yard line. With only a hundred or so people in the stadium at one time you can easily hear every parent yelling at the refs that would be drowned out if the stadium were full like on a Buffalo Bills gameday. The players got to play against great competition on an amazing field with no pressure other than to try and win their games. Fall tournaments like this offer experiences you can’t get any other time of the year.
From playing in fall tournaments in high school to coaching in them now, it’s a magical time of the year when you are playing solely for the enjoyment of the game. Many of these young players are also playing other sports like soccer, football, and hockey so they are lucky to have a chance to play lacrosse in the offseason.
It is an odd time of the year on the lacrosse calendar, but there are still opportunities to play during this transitional time of year at tournaments like the Ellicottville Lacrosse Festival and the 3 Nations Classic where players try and enjoy the weather before the chill of winter makes its approach.
You can get more information about each tournament at: