Md. tourney lures 1,600 for lacrosse Pilgrimage: Young lacrosse players from up and down the East Coast come to St. Paul's for tournament play.

June 16, 1996|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,SUN STAFF

A photo caption that appeared with an article in Sunday's Maryland section misidentified Parkville lacrosse player Chris Eginton as Tim Kronner.

The Sun regrets the error.

Only in Maryland could you call a restaurant "The Crease" and expect everyone to know it's named for that sacred ground around the lacrosse goal.

If lacrosse wasn't born here, it is at least revered. And yesterday it was celebrated, with 1,600 boys, their parents, grandparents, assorted brothers and sisters and several dogs making a pilgrimage to the fields around St. Paul's School in Brooklandville for the Cockeysville Lacrosse Invitational Tournament.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Eighty-one teams, with boys from 4 to 14, were drawn to the school grounds from along the East Coast and as far away as Toronto.

"Interstate 83 and the Beltway," said Richard Mudd, an engineer at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. "That's the heart of it all."

For kids' lacrosse, that interchange is almost mystical, close to St. Paul's with its rich lacrosse tradition, and to Cockeysville with its powerful recreation council league.

Mudd's 9-year-old son Andrew, who plays for Parkville, had just faced one of Cockeysville's legendary teams. Parkville lost 6-1.

"When you get up against a team that passes really well -- you get taught a lesson," the father said with as much admiration as pain.

He moved here from Michigan nine years ago. He had already heard about lacrosse. That's what the Indians were playing outside Fort Mackinac in northern Michigan long ago. Their game was so entrancing that the British guarding the fort didn't notice a war party sneaking in to overwhelm their defenses. "That's what we knew about lacrosse," Mudd said.

From that old Indian game has evolved a sport in which players using a stick with a net on the end try to toss a ball into a goal. Maryland has its own special style. "Here, it's skill and finesse," said Bill Kenton, manager of WBOC-TV in Salisbury.

Long Island in New York, another venerated spot for lacrosse fans, is distinguished by its reputation for aggressive and more physical play.

The tournament, sponsored by Cockeysville Recreation Council lacrosse, was started five years ago by John C. G. Boyce Jr., vice president for sales of Smith Barney Inc. in Baltimore.

"I grew up playing lacrosse in Baltimore," said Boyce, who graduated from St. Paul's School in 1962. "You can push yourself farther than you thought you could on a lacrosse field. It's a good contact sport, and it teaches leadership."

Showing them how

The tournament grew out of road trips by Cockeysville teams. "We beat a Connecticut team really badly one year," Boyce recalled of a match for 12-year-olds. "Afterward, five or six of the Connecticut parents came up to me. I started to cringe. Then they told me, 'We love to have you come because you show us how well kids this age can play.' "

Boyce decided it would be easier to run a tournament than trying to schedule so many outside games around regular league play. Now, he and co-chairman Gary Gill start work in December, sending out letters inviting teams, then pairing them up.

The teams began play at 8: 30 a.m. yesterday, and didn't finish until early evening. They play again today, with the first game scheduled for 9 a.m. and the last for 1: 30 p.m. on 10 fields at the adjoining St. Paul's Schools campuses and two more in Cockeysville.

"When I started, I called asking people to get in," Mr. Boyce said. "Now they're calling me."

Kids' lacrosse is in its second year in Salisbury, which has 180 youngsters playing for Mid-Delmarva Family YMCA teams. "This tournament is great for us," said Doug Sink, the 'Y' director. "We feel fortunate we can come and play teams across the Bridge. When you talk about lacrosse and Cockeysville, you're talking about one of the best tournaments in the country."

'I like the hitting'

It's a very well-run tournament, Kenton said. "And that's not easy with all these fathers running around."

As the youngsters played, their families gathered around coolers, armed with their video cameras, and watched. "There it is, Chubbs," Kenton shouted at his 9-year-old son, known more formally as Ellis, who scored two goals. He earned his nickname at birth, when he arrived at 10 pounds-plus (but is quite slender now).

"I think some kids even in youth sports need contact," Kenton said. "They need speed. They need agility. They need finesse. You get all that in lacrosse. And you can knock people down."

"The hitting," said Travis Berry, a tall 12-year-old from New Canaan, Conn. "That's what I like about lacrosse."

"You can tell by his long stick," said his father, Chris.

"I like the hitting a lot," said Devon Russell, another New Canaan 12-year-old.

Lacrosse has been getting so popular in New Canaan, Devon said, that baseball teams are having trouble recruiting players. In an eighth grade of 100 boys, more than 70 are playing lacrosse, Chris Berry said.

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