- 2014 Division – Puget Sound Select Elite
- 2015 Division – BearLax ‘15 Blue
- 2016 Division – Team 180 ‘16 Yellow
- 2017 Division – BearLax ‘17 Blue
- 2018 Division – Team 180 ‘18 Yellow
- 2019-2020 Division – Team 180 ‘19
- Elite Division – Kings Lax Gold
- 3d Lacrosse SoCal 16
- Freshman-Sophomore Division – DoCo Dogs 9/10
- Middle School Division – Oregon Pride 15-Under
- Fifth-Sixth Grade Division – 3d Lacrosse NorCal ‘20
- Youth Division – Brady’s Bunch 11-Under
Princeton Women’s Lacrosse head coach Chris Sailer sent an assistant to scout the Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival during the early years of its existence. Sailer figured a fledgling tournament on the West Coast would not feature the type of talent a perennial powerhouse in the Ivy League was seeking. With each passing year, those assistants reported to Sailer that Sand Storm was blowing up and the caliber of players attending was rapidly improving. So Sailer decided to check out the event herself last year and came away impressed.
“I was amazed by the quality of the tournament as a whole. The location, the facility, the organization – everything was first-class and top-notch,” Sailer said. “It was a great opportunity to see a lot of West Coast kids at a time of the year when no other recruiting events are being held. We wound up getting two players that we would not have seen otherwise. It just really opened my eyes to the caliber of talent that is participating in that tournament.”
Synapse Sports established the Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival in 2008 with 22 girls’ teams playing games on four fields. Last month, the seventh annual Sand Storm attracted 245 teams on both the boys’ and girls’ sides with a whopping 40 fields at the meticulous Empire Polo Club being utilized. “Sand Storm has grown by one thousand percent in just seven years. That is just incredible when you think about it,” said Cathy Samaras, founder and CEO of Synapse Sports.
“Everything about Sand Storm is spectacular. What’s not to love about 85 degree days in January under palm trees with snow showing on the mountains in the distance? We are particularly thrilled to provide a lacrosse tournament in which both girls and boys compete on adjacent fields and then come together to shop, eat and chill out!”
This year’s tournament set a new standard with Under Armour coming aboard as a corporate sponsor and providing a new lacrosse head and signature Sand Storm T-shirt to members of all 12 championship teams. Gatorade, a longtime partner of Synapse Sports, kept all the athletes well hydrated throughout the warm weekend in Palm Springs.
“We really enjoyed our time at Sand Storm. It’s great to be out in the desert where the weather is so phenomenal,” said Frank Chance, manager of the Kings Lax program from Newport Beach, Cal. “The facility is fantastic and the fields are in amazing shape. It’s like playing lacrosse on a putting green. The tournament is extremely well-run with everything happening on time and in an orderly fashion.”
Kings Lax, comprised entirely of players from Corona Del Mar High, uses Sand Storm as a preseason tune-up. Head coach G.W. Mix led the squad to the Elite Division championship with a victory over rival Orange County. “We are not a typical club program that draws talent from a wide area, but our kids have been playing together for a long time and have great chemistry and a commitment to teamwork,” Chance said. “It’s a great accomplishment to win Sand Storm because the level of competition was outstanding. It just keeps getting better and better each year.”
Theresa Sherry has been bringing her BearLax program to Sand Storm since its inception and has also marveled at its evolution. BearLax had all 13 of its teams and some 250 athletes at this year’s tournament and came away with two titles – topping the 2015 and 2017 Girls brackets. Team Tough, its middle school entry, was runner-up while three other entries lost in the semifinals.
“All the brackets had a lot of strong teams so it was really fun to see six of our teams make the playoffs. We won a championship at the very first Sand Storm in 2008 and I can tell you it’s much more difficult to do now,” Sherry said.
“Seven years ago, the best athletes on the West Coast were not playing lacrosse. That has changed dramatically as the sport has grown in popularity and parents have seen the college opportunities. I watched a lot of games during this year’s tournament and saw some amazing athletes out on the field.”
Bottom line, Sand Storm is now attracting a slew of major Division I prospects as well as a bevy of Division II and III candidates, which has swelled the ranks of college recruiters attending the two-day event. Schools from all the major conferences – Atlantic Coast, American, Ivy, Big East, Mountain Pacific – were on hand to scout for talent.
“There are definitely a lot more college coaches coming to Sand Storm. I had conversations with a bunch of coaches throughout the tournament that were interested in our players,” Sherry said. “This is clearly becoming a great opportunity for kids to showcase their skills and attract the attention of the college recruiters.”
Puget Sound Select made its third appearance at Sand Storm and was thrilled to come away with the Girls 2014 Division championship. Bainbridge Island High head coach Tamiko Tommila, who operates the program along with Lakeside High head coach Jamie Osaka, said winning Sand Storm was the greatest accomplishment to date for Puget Sound Select.
“We were ecstatic that our elite team won the title. It was definitely a big step forward for our program,” Tommila said. “We are not a big recruiting club. We treat Sand Storm as a reward to our kids for all the hard work they put in during the fall and winter. We just want to play lacrosse and loved that we were able to get in six games. That really made it worth our while to bring two teams. Winning a championship was icing on the cake.”
3d Lacrosse, an up-and-coming program operated by former University of Denver head coach Jamie Munro, showed up at Sand Storm in full force and came away with two titles. SoCal 16 captured the Boys High School Division while NorCal 20 took the Boys Sixth Grade crown. Zack Burke, southern California director for 3d Lacrosse coached the 2016 squad, which was comprised of sophomores from Poway, Torrey Pines, Costa Canyon and Cathedral Catholic high schools.
“Our players and parents all loved the tournament. It was run really well and the complex is beautiful,” Burke said. “It was just a great weekend all around and we’ll definitely be coming back to Sand Storm from now on.”
For more information about the 2014 Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival visit the event website: www.laxtournaments.com
SYNAPSE SPORTS Synapse Sports is the premier provider of lacrosse playing opportunities and recruiting events in the U.S. Founder and CEO Cathy Samaras has been a trailblazer in the sport of lacrosse, working tirelessly for over 25 years to promote the growth and development of the game – from grassroots to global. To learn more about the exciting events organized by the company visit www.synapsesports.com or call 410-573-1414.