Sand Storm 2013, which drew a record 200 total teams – 114 teams in six divisions on the girls’ side and 86 teams in six brackets on the boys’ side -, was a rousing success on every level. Players and their families enjoyed the vacation resort atmosphere of Palm Springs and playing on the lush fields of the Empire Polo Club. Co-sponsors STX and Gatorade contributed to the event’s success through their continued support.
Ted Spencer, president and director of Blue Chip Lacrosse, spent 13 years head coach of the Fairfield men’s lacrosse program. Spencer brought his Blue Chip NorCal East Bay squad, which included sons Ben and Devin, to Sand Storm and came away with the Boys’ High School championship. “I have attended the Sand Storm tournament for the past two years. As a former Division I coach, owner of a very large showcase event, and having attended various events with Team Talon and Blue Chip NorCal East Bay, I can confidently say that Sandstorm is the best Tournament I have been to,” Spencer said. “It is well run, the food and concessions are well organized and the venue is the very best. Palm desert is a superior destination in the winter months. Thank you for a great experience.”
3d Lacrosse, a nationwide organization founded by former Denver University head coach Jamie Munro, captured two championships. 3d Select California 2017, coached by John Clarke and Bill Cummings, took home the Boys’ Seventh-Eighth Grade title. 3d Select California 2019 secured the Fifth-Sixth Grade crown. “All of our 3d Select NorCal teams are showing vast improvement and meshing together the more they play ad adopt 3d’s methodology. We have a collective group of young men who are intelligent, willing to listen, and play for each other,” 3d director John Keysor said. “3d lacrosse would like to thank Sandstorm for hosting such a great event. All of our teams had a great time competing in such beautiful surroundings.”
Kyle Harrison, one of the greatest players in men’s lacrosse history, led the DH Lions to the Boys’ Elite Division championship. Harrison, the NCAA Division I Player of the Year as a senior at Johns Hopkins, founded the northern California organization along with Chuck Dotson. Harrison is head coach at JSerra Catholic in San Juan Capistrano and this DH team is comprised entirely of his high school players. It was an extremely young group consisting primarily of sophomores and freshmen. “Most of these players have been together since middle school so they have great chemistry and cohesion,” said Dotson, whose son Chaz was a starting defenseman for DH. “Kyle has done a tremendous job of coaching and developing these kids.”
DH compiled a 6-0 record and defeated Lax West Mission Red in the final. It was the organization’s first trip to Sand Storm and Dotson came away impressed with the execution of the event by Michael Watson, owner of Lax West and director of the boys’ tournament. “Michael and the Synapse team did a fantastic job. Even if my boys would not have won, I would feel the same way,” Dotson said. “Our players loved it and their parents loved it. The facility itself is simply amazing.”
Bear Lax Blue, coached by Rick Jeffery, garnered the Girls’ 2013 Division on the girls’ side. That squad features players headed to such Division I schools as Hofstra, Stanford, Marquette, San Diego State, Fresno State, St. Mary’s, UC Davis, Ohio State and Brown. Rick Jeffery is a major reason why this group has enjoyed so much success. That 2013 team is made up of girls that have now been playing together for at least six years, and Rick has guided them every step of the way,” said Theresa Sherry, founder and director of Bear Lax. “Sand Storm is a tournament this team has gone to since it began, and has come close to winning a number of times. They lost in sudden death overtime last year, so it was great for them to be able to win it this year.”
X Team Black, which only had 12 players, came away with the Girls’ 2014 title. Liz Connelly (California) and Jess Thornton (Tennessee) coached the club, which featured several four-year members of the X Team program. Team 180 pushed X Team to the limit, but midfielder Riley Eggeman (California) and goalie Rachel Jordan (Oregon) both made big defensive plays down the stretch to preserve a one-goal victory. X Team, founded and operated by Crista Samaras, holds its annual end-of-year gala at the La Quinta Resort and Spa while attending Sand Storm. More than hundred players representing 20 states and the 2013-2017 age groups attended the gala and were inspired by guest speaker Ryan Boyle, a former Princeton All-American and veteran professional standout. “It’s neat to see the growth of lacrosse in the west through this event that has helped foster it,” Samaras said. “The talent level at Sand Storm has really evolved, which makes winning even more special.”
Denver Summit has supported Sand Storm for the past three years and brought nine teams to this year’s event. Denver Summit 2017, coached by Denver University assistant coach Lauren Benner, captured the Girls’ championship of that age bracket. “We absolutely love taking our teams out to Palm Springs to play. There is always great west coast talent that we compete against and it doesn’t hurt that the location is ideal for getting away from our Colorado winters,” Benner said. “The Samaras family does a great job organizing the tournament in such a way that it keeps an intimate feel alongside its competitive atmosphere. In all, it was an awesome weekend full of tough competition, fun and most importantly growth. We are already looking forward to Sandstorm next January.”
Attackman Roy Ward scored the winning goal as Tri Valley edged NorCal to take the Boy’s Ninth-Tenth Grade title. Based in the Conejo Valley outside Los Angeles and founded by former Syracuse standout Sean Lindsay, Tri Valley brought six teams to Sand Storm and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. “It was an amazing event – great venue, great location, great competition,” Lindsay said. “Our parents and kids loved Sand Storm and it was a great way to end the winter season.”
Brady’s Bunch brought home a crown from Sand Storm for the second straight year, winning the Boys’ Third-Fourth Grade division this time around. Ned Harvey coached the team, which went undefeated in the tourney. “We had a great time and the kids loved it. We had a very talented team with lots of experienced players so we seemed a little better prepared than some of the other teams, but that was okay and allowed us to work on some team skills,” Harvey said.
For more information about the 2013 Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival visit the event website: www.laxtournaments.com
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 20 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.
Founded by former UVA 4-time All American Michael Watson, Lax West is committed to helping its participants reach their full potential as competitive lacrosse players and coaches through a variety of platforms including instructional and competitive camps, clinics and events, as well as coaching clinics and seminars, invitational exhibitions, games and tournaments. Visit www.laxwestlacrosse.com for more information.