October 12, 2012

Seatown Classic Brings Division I Lacrosse to Washington

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Maryland senior midfielder Landon Carr, a native of University Place, Wash., will play in his home state when the Terps scrimmage Denver on Saturday outside Seattle. Carr was an All-American at Curtis (Wash.) High.
© Kevin P. Tucker

Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash., outside Seattle has a capacity of 4,000, and the organizers of the first Division I men's lacrosse game in Washington State expect close to that number to show up at 2 p.m. local time Saturday when national runner-up Maryland meets fellow NCAA tournament team Denver for a fall ball scrimmage. But it is the Northwest, so there's always weather to consider, but with the appetite of lacrosse fans in the region wet, rain shouldn't dampen attendance.

"I expect our fans will come out regardless of the weather to support the teams and our lacrosse community," said Kris Snider, who is charge of strategic partnerships and membership development for US Lacrosse's Washington State chapter.

Snider, the father of 2012 Maryland graduate and current Denver Outlaws midfielder Drew Snider, is directly involved in making Saturday's event happen.

He also played lacrosse at Virginia from 1974-78 before eventually making his way to the Northwest, where he now works full-time as a landscape architect. He's also the boys' varsity coach at Nathan Hale (Wash.) High.

We caught up with Snider during a busy week as he juggled work and putting the finishing touches on event planning.

LM: How did the Seatown Classic come together? Who played roles in making it happen? What were some important things involved to make it happen?

KS: Amongst lacrosse developers in Washington State, a D-I game in Seattle has been talked about for many years. It was a pipe dream 5-8 years ago but as more of our kids headed to college programs over the past five years it didn't seem so far fetched as a lot of us now have close connections with college coaches. With Drew and [fellow Washington native] Landon Carr at Maryland, I decided in the spring of 2010 to ask Coach Cottle if he would consider it. To my surprise he was immediately intrigued and suggested he reach out to Coach Tierney, who had just arrived at Denver, to see if he would be up for it. Bill was also interested, so all looked good for a 2011 fall game. Then Dave was let go. At that point I thought it was dead. I didn't know John Tillman and figured he would have little interest in a big trip like this given all the issues and demands of the transition. To my surprise he called me and said Coach Cottle had told him about it. He said he was still interested in the trip, as was Coach Tierney, so we began the long road of getting it done.

Getting the two teams to commit was the first and most important hurdle. But getting buy-in from our Chapter leadership was equally important. This event would be a huge risk for us. Financially it was our biggest event to date, and it would be a huge demand on our volunteers. With enthusiasm, but also pragmatism, the Chapter bought in and work began. We're all proud of this effort and hope every participant has a great time.

So, big thank you's to Dave Cottle for being the initial catalyst, to John Tillman and Bill Tierney for signing on and for our Chapter leaders, especially our Chapter President, Dave Low, for buying in and getting it done.

Since you moved out to Washington, how have you seen the lacrosse scene change?

When I got here in 1983 the men's lax scene was pretty busy at the post- collegiate club level. Some great players and solid teams in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia. The high school scene was fledgling, maybe three or four club teams. Youth lacrosse was non-existent. Since then, through the efforts of many, many dedicated folks, lacrosse has continued to flourish. Initially we worked hard to add high school teams and it was a slow, steady slog as we tried to educate athletic directors and parents about this new sport in the West. It was in the early 2000's that we started to really get traction and realize big numbers in growth as we focused more on starting youth programs. Since then participation numbers have grown by double-digit percentages each year. Girls' lacrosse has followed a similar track but got started a few years behind the boys. Both boys' and girls' lacrosse in Washington and Oregon are expanding quickly, so we are now facing all the infrastructure problems like other areas - needing coaches, refs and fields.

More About Washington Lacrosse

* More than 200 Washington natives have played NCAA men's or women's lacrosse in the four-decade history of the sport in the state.

* More than 20 players from the Washington State high school Class of 2012 were offered scholarships and positions on NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's teams.

* Lacrosse is not sanctioned by the state's athletic association, but is one of the fastest growing sports in the state. About 4,000 high school kids attending 200 schools play the sport.

Your son Drew said that you ended up in Washington through a friendship with former Virginia basketball player Wally Walker, who played with the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics. Is this true?

Wally and I were good friends at UVA and remain so to this day. He's a big lacrosse fan and it certainly was nice to have him here. He let me hang in his house when I visited for a summer in 1980. The real draw though was having three of my Suffern (N.Y.) High teammates living out here. We had a ton of fun and played many years of club lacrosse together.

What do you hope this event does in general for lacrosse in Washington?

We think it will be an incredible boost for the Northwest region, not just Washington. For our local lacrosse fans to be able to watch high-level lacrosse in person is a real treat, and a first in our area's lacrosse history. I expect many young players will leave this game even more in love with our sport, and will have visions of themselves playing in an event like this someday.

We also have high aspirations that both teams leave here impressed with our lacrosse community, and it's enthusiasm for their talents and our dedication to the sport. If we do it right, the Denver and Maryland coaches and players will become ambassadors for Northwest lacrosse, enabling us to attract other high-quality teams for future Seatown Classic events.

Why type of crowd are you expecting? (More than 3,000 tickets have been pre-sold and tickets are available at the gate.)

We expect 3,500, which is near capacity, but we may get a lot of game day walkups, so the number could go higher, especially if the weather is good. We've had such great weather here for the past 80 days but the forecast is for some showers on Saturday.

What's the weekend event schedule look like, besides the game?

The complete itinerary is at www.seatownclassic.org. Cool stuff includes team practices on Friday night (free admission) in two separate locations in Seattle area so folks can easily attend. On Saturday morning, we have boys and girls clinics. We have over 250 kids signed up so far. The boys clinics will feature players from the Terps and Pioneers. There's a men's and women's coaching clinic Saturday. The men's clinic features Coach Tillman and Coach Tierney. Then the game at 2 p.m. Saturday. After the game the teams have dinner on a tour boat that will cruise the beautiful Puget Sound. Pretty amazing weekend.

For more information on Saturday's game visit www.seatownclassic.org, and click here for more information on US Lacrosse's Washington State chapter.

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