Aspen Lacrosse Shootout returns to Crown Mountain this weekend
Those rivalries found on the high school fields in the spring? Yeah, they start years before at events like this weekend’s Aspen Shootout lacrosse tournament at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel.
“It’s fun to provide them a safe platform to grow and to play and to appreciate sport. That’s sort of what the weekend is,” tournament organizer Meredith Elwell said.
“The real story is these kids and the rivalries that are built between our club. This is the third and last time we’ll specifically see these teams. They put their heart and soul out there.”
The Aspen Shootout is run by the Aspen Lacrosse Club, which founded the tournament about 10 years ago. What started off as a small tournament with maybe 30 teams in Aspen has blossomed to one with nearly 100 teams and as many as 3,000 people being involved, including spectators. The tournament moved to Crown Mountain Park in 2012 to accommodate the growth.
On top of having a strong economic impact on the midvalley during an otherwise slow season, the Aspen Shootout is one of the best chances to showcase the quality of youth lacrosse on the Western Slope. Along with tournaments earlier this spring in Grand Junction and Vail, this weekend’s event is among the best this side of the Rockies and brings in plenty of Front Range teams. Roughly a third of the teams come from the Roaring Fork Valley.
“The competition is attractive. Everyone is always looking for different ways to challenge their athlete,” Elwell said. “It’s a really special weekend for the Aspen Lacrosse Club. It’s our turn to host these other teams and put on a good show for them, on and off the field. It’s a big deal for our club and it’s one we are really proud of.”
The tournament features boys and girls from kindergarten through eighth grade, with most age divisions played in a round-robin format with a championship game. Action gets going early Saturday and concludes late in the afternoon on Sunday. It’s nearly two days of continuous lacrosse.
“It’s just nice to celebrate these kids and the event,” Elwell said. “You are only as strong as your youth program, and it makes a big difference. Our coaches at the high school are very supportive of our club and we try to communicate as best as possible to streamline the whole effort.”
The Aspen Lacrosse Club is used as a feeder system for the high school teams, and many of the high school players can be found at Crown Mountain Park during the tournament, helping run the event.
“It doesn’t run without them,” Elwell said. “They are reporting the scores after every game. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s huge to my operation. And these are high school kids who just stepped off the field last night to come help out and be a part of it all.”
For more information on the Aspen Shootout, go to http://www.aspenlacrosse.org.