Vail Lax Jam heads downvalley this year | VailDaily.com

Vail Lax Jam heads downvalley this year

EAGLE COUNTY — Attracting hundreds of 8- to 14-year-old boys and girls from all around the state, the Vail Lax Jam hits town next weekend. Tournament play will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 8, in Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.

The tournament has been taking place for a while here in Eagle County, but this year is only the second year that the Vail Valley Lacrosse Club will be running it. Last year, the tournament attracted 64 teams and took place mainly in Edwards, at Freedom Park, Singletree and Battle Mountain High School.

This year, the tournament has grown by more than 25 percent, attracting 87 teams. The bigger registration numbers spurred tournament organizers to look to new venues, expanding downvalley to the fairgrounds in Eagle and Eagle Valley High School.

"We're excited to show lacrosse families in Colorado all that Eagle has to offer, including our beautiful fields and pleasant playing conditions, the many recreation opportunities, restaurants, coffee shops and everything they'll find here in Eagle," said Eagle Marketing and Events Director Amy Cassidy. "It's a perfect fit for our community."

The Vail Valley Lacrosse Club is also considering bringing a tournament to Eagle this fall.

"It's a convenient location for everyone on the Western Slope — Aspen, Steamboat, Grand Junction, Telluride, Montrose, Durango — and the facilities in Eagle are awesome," said Chris Bivona, Vail Valley Lacrosse Club athletic director. "Fall tournaments are tricky, but I think it could be successful in Eagle."

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INCREDIBLE GROWTH

The tournament will be the Vail Valley Lacrosse Club's biggest fundraiser of the year, an important component to keeping up a club that has seen numbers explode in recent years.

Three years ago, when the club hired Bivona as its athletic director, there were no coaches associated with the club. Today, there are 23.

"Athlete involvement has increase every year, as well," Bivona said. "We're up to three boys teams in a single grade, and girls participation has increased from basically no girls athletes when I started to now having one-fourth of our athletes being girls."

The Colorado Youth Lacrosse Association has taken notice, lending their support to this week's tournament by advertising the Vail Lax Jam to the 200 or so youth teams on the Front Range.

"They've helped us get the word out that we have a tournament here in the Vail Valley," Bivona said. "Geographically, we're the closest tournament to the Front Range, so it makes sense that these clubs would want to get out of Denver for the weekend and play four games in two days out here."

LAX TOURNEY SEASON

The Vail Lax Jam marks the start of a run of lacrosse tournaments here in Eagle County. Following next weekend's tournament, the Vail Lacrosse Tournament heads to Vail, Avon and Edwards June 20-22, bringing in high-school aged kids from across the nation. Then the popular Vail Lacrosse Shootout adult tournament returns to Vail for the 44th year starting June 25.

Next weekend's tournament, however, is the only one that's run by a local organization.

"My hope is that next year we have 100 teams," Bivona said, "and we have to put teams in Avon and Gypsum and all of the venues up and down the valley.