When David Booz and a group of lacrosse enthusiasts founded the Carroll County Lacrosse Association Summer League in 1976, the main idea was to provide offseason play for high school athletes.
As Carrolllacrosse has steadily developed through the years -- with four of its five public high schools now playing the sport at the varsity level-- so has the CCLA, which concluded its 15th season last Sunday withMar-Ja claiming the Travel Division title and Dr. Deigert's Drill Team winning the Carroll Division.
The league started with three teams and 60 players.
"We wantedan outlet for our high school players and also had some older guys who wanted to play. We had a good mixture of guys who had played a while, with some young newcomers," said Booz, who was a teacher and coach at North Carroll at the time and is now South Carroll's principal.
CCLA now has two divisions (with a second division added this year), 10 teams and more than 250 players from age 15 to 59.
"It (CCLA) has always picked up and grown," said Ross Burbage, who was league director from 1986-1990 and remains active administratively as well as on the playing field.
"The whole goal of the association is to do something for the sport of lacrosse," he said. "And we are now seeing some great lacrosse players coming out of Carroll County."
The two-division format has promoted more balanced competition, along with bringing in more out-of-county talent.
"Last year we had some really strong teams and some really terrible teams," league director Brent Whalen said. "There's not enough good ballplayers in Carroll yet to have eight or 10 solid teams.
"So, I talked up the league, saying how cheap it was ($20 per player) and how accessible I-795 is, andwe brought in some more players from outside the county."
The result was a travel division consisting of the higher-level players and a Carroll division, featuring some of the younger, less-experienced players, as well as older players simply out to have fun.
"It's oneof the most productive things we've done," Burbage said, "It's not agood-division, bad-division deal, just different levels of experience. We've got five or six professional players, some top club players and can still make room for the other players."
It wouldn't be fair to put a high school sophomore up against Tim Welsh, Brian Kronenberger or Jim Huelskamp (members of the professional Baltimore Thunder team of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League who participated in the CCLA)."
The trio comprised the midfield of the L'il Abner's team of the travel division. Their presence alone brought attention to the league.
"A lot of people would ask when they were playing and just come out to see them play. Most of the Carroll players would stick around after their games to see them play and learn things from them," Whalen said.
So what brings the non-Carroll participants to Sandymount Park and the Carroll County Sports Complex to play lacrosse in the CCLA?
"I think they like to get away from the hustle and bustle ofBaltimore and enjoy the countryside in Carroll," Whalen said.
Mar-Ja has certainly enjoyed the Carroll countryside recently, having ruled the postseason tournament the past three years despite never finishing first in the regular season. They knocked off Monaghan's Pub, 11-5, to win the Travel Division title.
Deigert's upset previously unbeaten International Foreign Car, 8-5, to claim the Carroll Division championship.
With all the success the two-division system has brought this year, Whalen is looking into adding a girls division to the CCLA next year.
"We've thought about starting a girls league sothey don't have to travel to Catonsville or Dundalk to play good lacrosse," Whalen said. "We would start with four teams or maybe six if we get the demand and go from there."