About eight years ago, I had the urge to take my experience in the newspaper business elsewhere. I was searching websites, and the jobs were out there. There was the possibility that I could have been a sports writer or even a sports editor at another paper in another part of the country, and make a little more money in the process.
But when I stepped back and took a good look at making a possible move, I decided I'm content right here in the Adirondacks. Sure, I could work at a paper with a bigger circulation, but I might have found myself a beat that covered a couple of junior college athletic programs along with a smattering of high school teams. Quite frankly, I would have probably been bored out of my mind.
I couldn't imagine being a sports writer in any other place than Lake Placid and the Olympic Region. During every season of the year, sports is a big deal here, ranging from high school to World Cup and World Championship events. I've even had the chance to travel to cover the Winter Olympics, which I'm sure wouldn't be an opportunity afforded to me working anywhere else.
Players from FCA, based in Maryland, and Be the Best, Long Island, attempt to collect an airborne ball during a round-robin game of the 24th annual Summit Lacrosse Tournament.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
One of those world-class events that I love covering is the annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament, which is celebrating its 24th anniversary this week. A seven-day tournament, the event features well over 200 boys, girls, men's and women's teams. By the time action wraps up Sunday, more than 500 games will be played on the North Elba Athletic Fields.
The tournament kicked off Aug. 5 with competition in the scholastic divisions, and culminates with championship games Aug. 11 that feature many of the best players in the business, including legends of the game who have gone on to stellar collegiate and professional careers. The first three days belonged to the young guns of lacrosse, with the adults taking to the fields starting late in the day Wednesday.
I got my first look at this year's version of the Lake Placid Summit tourney Tuesday afternoon. As usual, the parking area adjacent to the Lake Placid airport was filled many rows deep. As I walked along the dusty, gravel road toward the entrance gate, I started to take things in. And as soon as I walked through that gate, I exclaimed to myself, "It's a lacrosse city."
I went on Tuesday hoping to find a local angle for a story for this week's Lake Placid News. My timing couldn't have been better as the only area team competing in the scholastic division was Tri-Lakes, which had a number of players from Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
Shortly after I arrived at the fields, I ran into the tournament's director and co-founder George Leveille. I looked at him and said "I love your city."
There are a ton of things I really like about the tournament, which is by the way, free to the public. It's totally worth checking out. Teams really go all out when it comes to uniforms - it's tough to find a more colorful scene than the Lake Placid Summit tournament. I also like the fact that many players wear helmets bearing their current collegiate or alma mater colors and mascots. Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Duke and the list goes on.
There are always plenty of smiles at the fields, which are ringed with stunning views of many of the Adirondack Mountains' highest peaks. The Olympic ski jumps also stand out as part of the scene.
Obviously, I love talking to people, and I've met oodles of folks each year who travel from just about everywhere to be at the tournament. From first-time visitors to those who have been coming year after year, I get the same kind of feeling. They say something like "This place is incredible," or "it's so beautiful." I like the fact that visitors realize we do live in an amazing natural environment in the Adirondacks.
I don't know a heck of a lot about the sport. I do know it can be physical, you have to be athletic and talented to play the game at the highest level, and goalies who try to stop that little, hard ball are no doubt crazy.
I also know that come Sunday when the championship games take place, I'll be watching some of the best players in the world do some amazing things on the field. And all this is happening in my own backyard.
Covering the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament is another big reason why I really love my job. It's another big-time event that has become a tradition in Lake Placid. Drop on by, and I guarantee, you won't be disappointed.