Lacrosse tournament brings old and new teams to Vail |

Lacrosse tournament brings old and new teams to Vail

An Eldest Statesmen midfielder eludes a Middlebury defenseman by cradling out of trouble like he was delivering a hot pizza. The Eldest Statesmen will play in the championship game for the Zenmasters division of players 60 and older on Monday, July 1, at the Vail Lacrosse Shootout.
Clark Bell | Vail Lacrosse Shootout

VAIL – The Vail Lacrosse Shootout, now celebrating 47 years, is the country’s oldest annual lacrosse tournament.

And a lot of the players are the country’s oldest lacrosse players.

Tournament founder Dave Soran said having a Zenmasters division – for players 60 and older – was an original idea in Vail, but is now seen in other tournaments across the country.

“As the players have aged the older divisions have become more common,” Soran said on Sunday.

Sunday action at the Vail Lacrosse Shootout saw the Zenmasters, along with the Grandmasters (ages 50-59) and Supermasters (ages 40-49), deciding who will face off in Monday’s championship games.

The Zenmasters championship will be between Mr. Boh and Eldest Statesmen at 8 a.m. in Vail at Ford Park.

The Statesmen say they’re remembering the players they’ve lost over the years – Wavy, Pryz, Eddie, Bennie and Fein Daddy – and celebrating the ones that are still here including team anchor John Hayes, who is described by the team as having a “now-you-see it-now-you-don’t style, which has frustrated opponents for half a century.”

Mr. Boh is based out of Baltimore, Maryland, and celebrates the long history of lacrosse in that region of the country. They also celebrate a beer from the area, National Bohemian Beer, otherwise known as “Natty Boh.” The Vail Lacrosse Shootout’s program has an quirky description of the team:

“If you’ve ever been to Canton, Maryland, you’ll recognize the face – yeah, the big red one that winks at you once in a while – the one and only Mr. Boh.”

Los Viejos de Tejas are making a repeat championship appearance against Elder Statesmen in the Grandmasters division, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Ford Park following the Zenmasters.

The Supermasters division championship will be played at 11:30 a.m. at Ford Park, and will, once again, be between Magic Wands/WLF and Elder Statesmen this year.

High schoolers, too

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, players 19 and younger also took to the fields on Sunday, showcasing some impressive play.

The Vail Lacrosse Shootout has featured U19 play for 24 years — many teams make a tradition of coming every year.

But it was some of the first-time teams that most excited Pat Gartland, director of U19 boys division of the tournament.

Gartland said he got a chance to see Nation United Lacrosse play on Sunday, and was impressed with the team, which is comprised of players from across the United States and is participating in the Vail Lacrosse Shootout for the first time in 2019.

“We also had a makeshift team that was put together at the last minute – Nike Trailblazers – and they had two good performances today,” Gartland said.

Family tradition

While some are enjoying the tournament for the first time, others have made a long tradition of it.

Bill Johansen has been coming to the tournament for 37 years.

“And now my kids are adults, and they block off this time of year, and they come every year,” Johansen said.

On Saturday, Johansen’s oldest child, Mallory, got engaged on the banks of Gore Creek in Vail.

“It was awesome,” he said.

Support Local Journalism