Los Angeles, California – Over this past weekend, professional Box Lacrosse organizations the Jr Stealth, the Jr Mammoth, Denver Elite and the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS descended upon Los Angeles, California for the first ever USBOXLA Nationals.
Age divisions ranged from Pee Wee U12, Bantam U14, Midget U16 and HS Elite U18 and the teams competed in a 2 day tournament event.
What makes this different than any other indoor event in the USA in the past is that each of the association members are directed and coached by some of the Box game’s top coaches and secondly, the event was sanctioned by the US Box Lacrosse Association which meant standardized rules under the US Box Lacrosse Association rulebook and certified referees to ensure the utmost safely and quality of play.
The weekend started with an individual skills clinic presented by Lewis Ratcliff, Shaydon Santos, Brett Hickey, Jamie Shewchuk and Mark Miyashita. Combined these pro Box players have over 40 years of Professional NLL Box experience. Players were put through the paces by some of the top instructors of the Box game here in the USA.
With over 120 players in attendance in the friday preliminary skills clinics, Jr Stealth Director and one of the game’s elite players Lewis Ratcliff said “there’s absolutely nothing better in developing skills than playing Box Lacrosse, and Box Lacrosse isn’t a clinic or a few Box drills performed on a field, it’s spending the next 5 to 10 years playing the Box game against other well coached programs like the ones gathered here at the Nationals”.
The tournament also featured a USBOXLA Level 1 Referee certification course to ensure the quality of gameplay. “Each of us are playing to win, we train our players year round in becoming Box players and we take this development very seriously. We push our players hard and because of that we need that structure there to keep the game in check and the refs this weekend did a great job” says Jamie Shewchuk of the Colorado Mammoth and Denver Elite.
USBOXLA referees for this event were from Denver , Washington, NorCal, SoCal, BC and Ontario.
The youngest division, the U12 Pee Wee division was headlined by ultra strong performances by Steve Govett’s, the Jr Mammoth and the Denver Elite. Both programs sailed through the round robin and met in the Gold medal match in an absolutely fantastic Box game going the distance until the Jr Mammoth finally pulled ahead in the last seconds of the game. Junior Mammoth Head Coach, Steve Govett (who is also the president of lacrosse’s most successful professional team the Colorado Mammoth), said this after the tournament “This is a great event for the growth of our indoor game. Wonderful venue, fantastic competition, great weather, this is what the game is all about. I am so proud of our boys for battling through some adversity to edge a great opponent in a game that will long be remembered in US Box Lacrosse.”
The Bantam U14 Division was headlined by the magnificent play of the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS Ty Yanko, a player sure to make a huge impact on the NCAA and the NLL. The Cali*Lax ALL-STARS White team took the Bantam gold over a strong Denver Elite squad on the heels of Yanko’s stellar performance in the Box.
The Midget U16 division was dominated by the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS where the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS RED team played the the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS WHITE team in the championship game. “My midgets have been with me for 4 years now and on 5 Canadian tours, they train year round, the only people stopping this first graduating class of US Box players are Canada’s top Box programs” says Santos.
The Varsity Elite division was controlled by the Jr Stealth from the first whistle to the last. The Cali*Lax ALL-STARS did manage to make it a game in the gold medal match but Ratcliff’s Jr Stealth proved too skilled and well coached to take anything less than gold. “We’ve got some very skilled players in the Varsity division, so much so that I’m sure a few of these hometown boys will be out with our pro team in the next few years” says Ratcliff. “One of the goals of what we’re doing with the Stealth Academy is to place local talent into the professional Stealth team. We want a roster full of Washington players, players playing at the top level on earth and we’re committed to developing that talent.”.
“Pro coached competitive teams, amazing indoor outdoor Anaheim Ducks venue, Disneyland, the beaches in LA, palm trees, it’s an amazing event. It’s everything Box Lacrosse needs” says Daphne LeClair whose 3 sons play Cali*Lax ALL-STARS, 2 of those also attend The Hill Academy and are committed to D1 NCAA programs. ” I can see a ton of Canada’s top teams putting this on the calendar”.
“My phone won’t stop since this weekend” says Ratcliff. “Everyone is sold, everyone is hooked, this is the future”.