ULAX is the largest network of lacrosse leagues in North America with leagues in 30 cities and thousands of lacrosse players playing in one of their leagues every year. Some ULAX teams have beat everyone in their city’s league and won multiple championships, but can they beat the winners from New York City, San Diego, Connecticut, Long Island, or Chicago?
On July 27-28 at Randall’s Island in New York City, the 2019 Liberty Cup will be the opportunity to find out who really is the best ULAX team in the country.
The men’s and women’s leagues scattered across the country are arguably the true heart of lacrosse. They are made up of dedicated players who still crave the competitiveness of lacrosse, but are out there to have fun playing this great game and get a break from their hectic lives once a week. Everyone who plays in a ULAX league is connected, and the Liberty Cup is an opportunity to bring them together. This is not your typical summer tournament. This is a chance to play for something bigger.
Let’s take a look at the unique group of teams and players that have competed in the Liberty Cup in the past and those that are hoping to make the trip this July to NYC to claim ultimate ULAX glory.
First, let’s meet some of the local New York City teams who have traditionally battled it out at the Liberty Cup.
Dead Rabbits Lacrosse Club
New York City
“The first thing you find when you look up post-collegiate lacrosse in New York City is typically ULAX.”
Shortly after Harry Anscher moved to New York City he joined the NYC ULAX league as a free agent, but he did not know anyone on his team. That quickly changed thanks to the welcoming community of ULAX.
“The lacrosse community is so easy to get back into. I became good buddies with two or three guys and then with their friends. We eventually had a consistent team of about twenty guys who are great people and also good lacrosse players. We wanted to form our own ULAX team. We are big movie buffs, so naming the team after the Dead Rabbits from the movie Gangs of New York was an obvious choice for us. Our girlfriends and wives have also become friends and we’ve created one big community started from basically nothing.”
“ULAX is relaxed and no stress compared to playing for a spot or focusing on winning like in college. Sunday nights playing lacrosse are what we look forward to all week and other NYC ULAX teams have become our frenemies. We want to beat them and are competitive during the game, but we are there to have fun and then have some drinks together after.”
“One of my favorite memories of ULAX so far has to be the Liberty Cup. It’s such a cool experience in a beautiful location and you can’t beat sunny days playing on great turf fields with good people. We are there to win and we get mad when we lose, but it’s about the event and being apart of this community.”
“Every lacrosse player is competitive and if teams from other cities came to play it would bring out that competitiveness even more.”
New York City
“The Goats have been playing in ULAX for probably 12 years now. We liked the idea of pluralizing ‘Greatest Of All Time’ and the goat is just a cool mascot.”
Charlie Davidson aka “The Goat Father” started the Gotham Goats with some former teammates from Williams College, as well as other friends that played lacrosse in the area, to become one of the premiere teams in NYC ULAX. There are six current and former Goats that will be playing in the Premier Lacrosse League this summer (Matt McMahon, Joseph Mccallion, Jackson Place, Ryan Ambler, Trevor Baptiste, and Dylan Molloy).
“Guys that are on the Goats now I’ve met in the most random ways whether it’s at a work event, they’re a friend of a friend, or you notice someone is wearing a lacrosse shirt at the gym or they notice you wearing one and they’re like where do you play? Where do I sign up?”
“I am forever indebted to Neema because right after college there was really nowhere to play until he started the leagues here. There’s never a hiccup, there’s never a problem, it’s well run, it’s fun, and it’s competitive. It’s hard to quantify what it means to all of us to know that we will continue to be able to play lacrosse as long as we can because this league is here.”
“It’s fun to win a championship, but to have these guys who love playing as much as I do and love being a part of the team as much as I do it makes standing out in the rain for two hours with my torn achilles still the most fun I could have on the weekend. Teams like the Dead Rabbits reached out to me after I got hurt and in the other leagues I’ve played in that just doesn’t happen. ULAX is this thing that we all cherish and we know that we are lucky that it’s there.”
“The Goats won the inaugural Liberty Cup and would love to get a team together again for it. We always talk about the ‘Tournament of Champions’ with all of the ULAX leagues all over the country and you want bragging rights for your city. The Liberty Cup is in our backyard so we need to represent New York City as well as New York State. One of the nice things about playing in a tournament like the Liberty Cup is that you get to play against other people you don’t normally play against after playing against the same teams all the time in our ULAX league.”
Brooklyn Dodgers Lacrosse Club
New York City
“The best part about ULAX has to be playing with your friends and of course getting that championship t-shirt.”
After playing in other lacrosse leagues for awhile Rudy Martinez wanted to start his own post-collegiate lacrosse team to play in ULAX and other tournaments. Rudy formed the Brooklyn Dodgers Lacrosse Club and they now play lacrosse year round every chance they get.
“We have such good chemistry on our team from playing both the field and box sessions ULAX has all year. It’s not about me being the best player or starting every game. It’s about us coming together and being as competitive as we can be. Whenever we get to play we call it our ‘church day’ where we can unwind. We also definitely let out some aggression, but obviously not looking to hurt anybody.”
“The Brooklyn Dodgers have played in New Orleans, Lake Tahoe, Onondaga, the Jersey Shore, Toronto, and some guys have gone to Prague, but for us New York City is still the best place to play lacrosse. There’s nowhere else like it. In the fall, the field we play at is right next to where planes will be landing in the water while we’re playing a lacrosse game or when we play box in Chinatown there will be helicopters taking off, but that’s just normal for us in the city.”
“New York City is pretty much a hotbed for post-collegiate players living in the metropolitan area. I don’t know anywhere else you can have field and box ULAX leagues year round. You have to have a lot of people that love to play lacrosse and that’s what makes it so competitive here.”
“We haven’t missed a Liberty Cup. Everyone is walking around and saying what’s up to each other after we play it’s really cool. If teams from other cities came to play it would be way more competitive and we would be able to say that we beat those ULAX teams too.”
New York City
“Before ULAX we would have practices in Central Park and organize going to these really fun tournaments like Ocean City, Lake Placid, Vail, and New Orleans. All the girls on this team got really close and when ULAX came along it was a natural fit for us to play in.”
Rhea Lyons along with other women’s lacrosse players living in New York City make up the large group of players known as Central Lacrosse or by Central Cougars in their ULAX league.
“It’s really amazing that ULAX is dedicated to growing the game for post-collegiate women and women’s sports period don’t get a lot of support. There’s just something special about it being our sport. There are different rules than the men’s game, it’s not a coed situation, and it’s really nice to be able to own that and continue to be involved.”
“Having this outlet on the weekends where I can hang out with other girls that can play at my level, we don’t have to hold back, and we can switch into this natural competition really helps balance work and life. You focus on your career and there are pitfalls and there are struggles there, but then you still have this feeling of being able to step out onto the field, put your cleats on, and challenge yourself doing something that’s familiar.”
“We’ve become friends with some of the men’s ULAX teams too. Sometimes it’s hard to get goalies to commit for our girls team, but there are always guys goalies that will show up and play for us and it’s so much fun.”
“In the Liberty Cup, it’s really great to get a chance to play against the Long Island teams because they have a ULAX league, but it’s too far for us to travel to during the year. It’s a totally different level of competition and style of play so you get to push yourself seeing a different team. It would definitely be more competitive if other women’s teams from different cities came. It would be a big challenge with everyone’s work schedules and with travel, but if there was a way to get other teams from other cities like Denver ULAX to come to New York City and play that would be so cool and such a great opportunity.”
Rad Dads Lacrosse Club
New York City
When asked what it meant for the Rad Dads to still have the opportunity to play lacrosse, this was their answer:
“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
The Rad Dads cherish every chance they get to play lacrosse as their name suggests that they are a group of older lacrosse players who can still hang with the best of them on the lacrosse field. They will crack a dad joke and then run by you to sting a corner. They’ve still got it. They also boast their own line of apparel or “dadwear” they dub “a global lifestyle movement and fashion house for Dads of extraordinary taste.” Make sure to follow the Rad Dads on social media to see lots of dad jokes and hot takes on lacrosse.
One of the Rad Dads, Mark Czernyk, explains that “We became fathers ourselves in 2014 when we (officially) fielded our first Rad Dads squad. Our webstore – raddadsofficial.com – went live on Father’s Day, 2018. Our favorite memory playing in ULAX is winning our first ULAX NYC Men’s Fall Lacrosse League ‘World Championship’ in 2016.”
“What could beat a summer weekend of hot grills, cold brews, and fundamentals-focused lacrosse at the Liberty Cup with the fellas? It doesn’t get much better than that.”
“The Dads have already won ULAX “World Championships” on both coasts (NYC Fall 2016 & 2018, SF Winter 2019). We’re eager to take on the rest of the continental United States, and ultimately the World. We welcome the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and compete against any and all challengers.”
Now let’s look at some potential newcomers to the tournament who are looking to come east and take the Liberty Cup crown back with them.
Chicago Lacrosse Club
“The Chicago Lacrosse Club was started in 1965 so the team has been around for a long time.”
PJ Dallman is a transplant from Milwaukee to Chicago and now helps run the Chicago Lacrosse Club that has been dominating the ULAX league in the Windy City. He has helped the team find some talented lacrosse players in the area still looking to play in a competitive, but fun atmosphere.
“ULAX has been the most consistent opportunity for our guys to get together and play. I took over the team with a friend of mine from high school and we have been able to bring in a lot of younger guys, but we have players of all ages from around 23 to 53 and across the board I would call all of those people my friends.”
“We have a guy that played with the Gait brothers in college and a guy who played on the Chicago Machine when they were still a team. It’s a ragtag group, but pretty much everyone has played Division 1, 2, 3, or competitive club lacrosse. We’ve gotta be the only men’s league team in the country that has a D1, D2, and a D3 goalie.”
“Casey Powell was living in the spare bedroom of one of our defenders when he moved to Chicago and he was looking for somewhere to play for fun so he is technically on our team, but he hasn’t showed up yet so the guys on our team that know him have been giving him a hard time.”
“Coming out to the Liberty Cup is absolutely on the table. For us it’s an issue of getting commitment from the right number of people to get out to the tournament and making sure they’re there to actually show up to the games. Some tournaments we’ve played in in the past have been in the middle of nowhere Illinois or Indiana and obviously it’s hard to ask guys hey do you wanna spend a Friday and Saturday night in the middle of nowhere to wake up early and play lacrosse? Where as a trip to New York City is a lot easier sell to a group of 20-somethings to be able to do something fun at night after the games.”
“We’d like to test ourselves against these teams we see winning in other parts of the country and I think the Liberty Cup would be a good opportunity to do that.”
San Diego Lacrosse Club
“San Diego Lacrosse Club was founded in 1974 as an affiliate of the Southern California Lacrosse Association.”
The San Diego Lacrosse Club has been in the area long before professional teams like the San Diego Seals came to town. Josh Nelson and other lacrosse players on the team are showing that there is high level lacrosse being played in Southern California. They are definitely making the other ULAX teams in colder weather jealous as they post pictures and videos on Instagram of them playing lacrosse in the sun all year.
“I joined the San Diego Lacrosse Club five years ago when I moved to San Diego. Playing keeps lacrosse a part of my identity. I love being able to stay active and have the team bonding that comes with it. I wasn’t sure what men’s league looked like down here in SoCal, but when I googled San Diego Men’s Lacrosse the San Diego Lacrosse Club was the first option.”
“We entered ULAX when it started during the 2018 winter season. We have options for playing in the spring and summer, but we had no leagues for winter/fall. Enter ULAX! We’re stoked to give our guys the opportunity to play lacrosse all year round now!”
“SDLC is the 3x undefeated Champion here in SD, so we’d love to come play with the best ULAX squads in the country at the Liberty Cup. For us, we’d dig the competition, but also having a drink and chatting up with the other squads. We don’t just surf and spend our weekends playing 3×3 on the beach, we’ve got some ballers and we’d love to run with the top teams.”
“Our team is built on friendship, so at the end of the day we’d look forward to meeting new dudes and creating new networks of friends. However, don’t get it confused, we’re always in the hunt for another championship! Of course, we get lots of chirps on Instagram given we’re the best squad in Southern California. We don’t read too much into it, we focus on friendship and championships!”
Are you on a ULAX team? Do you want to compete against some of the other best ULAX teams in the country?
Any ULAX team is invited to play whether they have won their league championship or not. If your team isn’t going or you want to play in the tournament and are not on a team you can get on a team as a free agent.
Sign up at https://www.ulax.org/libertycup/
Looking for a ULAX team to play on during the year? Go to https://www.ulax.org/ to see if there is a league near you and if there isn’t one contact ULAX about starting up a lacrosse league in your city. ULAX teams may be scattered across the country, but they are all a part of the unique ULAX lacrosse community.
Now is the time to organize your team to make the trip to New York City in July to battle for the Liberty Cup trophy and to meet other lacrosse players from around the country.
The Road to the Liberty Cup starts now.