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Paul Krome | @paulkrome
Lacrosse has caused Rick Giancola to get misty-eyed twice in the 30-plus years the Syracuse native has lived and helped to foster the growth of the sport in Colorado. The first time offered potential for the second, which will likely yield a third next summer.
That’s when the worldwide lacrosse community will converge on Denver for a 10-day celebration of the sport — the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship. As many as 40 nations will field teams to compete, with hundreds of domestic and international boys’ and men’s lacrosse teams also expected to participate in the concurrent World Festivals to create the sport’s largest single event ever, July 10-19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
That is more than enough to tug at the heart strings of Giancola, and for good reason. The past president of the Colorado Lacrosse Foundation, the state’s chapter of US Lacrosse, has participated in various capacities since moving to the Rocky Mountain State in 1980, helping to foster the sport’s growth. He welled up at the first game at the University of Denver’s Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium in 2005, and again in 2010 upon learning of US Lacrosse’s successful bid to host the 2014 World Championship in Denver.
“Those stand out as huge events for the sport in Colorado,” Giancola said.
Along with Colorado lacrosse enthusiasts Ted Baruch and Jim Soran, Giancola is co-chair of the 2014 World Championship Host Committee, working with hundreds of volunteers and the US Lacrosse staff to make the event a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The common theme of all the volunteers in the history of lacrosse in Colorado is their passion for the game,” said Giancola, who played at Hobart College before serving as a youth coach and high school official after moving to Colorado. “It will be very hard for fans visiting the event to not feel the excitement from the local community.”
Baruch, likewise a transplant from the East where he jumped into lacrosse involvement following his son’s attendance at a Bill Tierney camp at Princeton, echoed those sentiments. Baruch has long helped to run the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Jamboree, which has drawn 450 teams, and is the president of the Lacrosse Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit that works to expand participation locally.
“That’s really the thing that’s kept me involved for so long, the quality of people and the passion of volunteers that put events like this on,” he said.
Fans will need to purchase a ticket to attend all World Championship games. World Festivals games are free of charge for spectators.
The 42nd Vail Lacrosse Shootout in Colorado next July will become Vail Lacrosse Lite, so to speak, and for the good of the game, event founder and director Jim Soran is fine with that.
In fact, the longtime advocate of lacrosse in the Rocky Mountain State and boys’ coach at Regis Jesuit High School, who’s seen his high school and post-collegiate tournament develop into one of the sport’s time-honored destination events, made the decision to eliminate divisions for teams aged 30 and above (commonly known as Masters, Supermasters, Grandmasters, etc.) at next summer’s Vail Shootout and direct those teams to participate in the 2014 World Lacrosse Festivals July 10-19 in Denver.
The World Festivals will feature boys’ and men’s teams from across the U.S. and around the world in 12 age divisions: U11, U13, U15, U17, Elite/Open, 30-and-over, 35-and-over, 40-and-over, 45-and-over, 50-and-over, 55-and-over and 60-and-over. They’ll run alongside the FIL World Championship at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“We wanted to support the world games and lacrosse in general, and that was the best way to do it,” said Soran, also one of three co-chairs of the 2014 World Championship Host Committee. “To have the World Festivals and FIL World Championship in the same complex will be a tremendous experience and something you don’t want to miss.”
Teams that register for the World Festivals will be able to secure passes to attend the FIL World Championship.
At the youth level, the World Festivals join a geographically diverse lineup of US Lacrosse tournaments that includes regional championships for boys’ and girls’ U13 and U15 teams in Raleigh, N.C., June 6-8, Madison, Wis., June 13-15, Amherst, Mass., June 20-22, and San Jose, Calif., June 27-29. The top four U15 teams at each of those events will receive automatic bids to the sixth annual US Lacrosse U15 National Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, July 21-23 in nearby Aurora, Colo. Teams participating in that event can purchase discounted tickets to the final three days of the World Championship, which is expected to draw a record 40 nations.
Spectators must purchase tickets to see all World Championship Games. World Festivals games are free of charge for fans.
Divisions for Masters teams and above will return to Vail in 2015.
An edited version of this story appeared in the July 2013 edition of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. To start your subscription, become a member of US Lacrosse today.
Photo Credit: Trevor Brown
The perfect holiday gift for the lacrosse fan in your family is tickets to the 2014 FIL World Championship, July 10-19 in Denver. Each full-event ticket package includes more than 125 world championship games, access to the International and Vendor Villages and the chance to witness history at this once-in-a-lifetime event.
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