YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y.— Ten different teams celebrated championships in historic Old Fort Niagara as part of the fifteenth annual Niagara Lacrosse Classic, the seventh stop on the inaugural Find Your Summit Tour (#FNDURSUMT) sponsored by Gait Lacrosse.
Established in 2007 as a family-friendly lacrosse tournament, this year’s Niagara Lacrosse Classic featured 86 teams from all over the continent competing on July 16 and 17 across 13 different divisions. In 2021, girls divisions were added, broadening the experience and making it a convenient tournament opportunity for many families.
Action got underway early Saturday morning as families filled the gorgeous park, which sits at the mouth of the Niagara River and overlooks Lake Ontario with—depending on the time of day and weather conditions—views of the Toronto skyline some 30 miles across the water.
Founded by Michael Wright, Director of the Buffalo Lacrosse Academy, the event gives families the opportunity to experience nearby Niagara Falls, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and so much more that Western New York and the international corridor has to offer. Meanwhile, the event has drawn since its start college recruiters from all over the map. Meanwhile, since it's start, the event has drawn college recruiters from all over the map.
In 2019, Wright partnered with Summit Lacrosse Ventures to manage operations of the growing event, now one of the largest lacrosse tournaments in the state.
“This has evolved into exactly what we’d hoped, and that’s a place where teams can come to compete at a high level and be seen by recruiters,” said Wright, who was on the fields as a coach with Team Buffalo squads throughout the weekend.
“This park has it all, even a swimming pool, a hiking trail and so much more to help make this the perfect place for a family to spend the weekend celebrating this game.”
Kevin Leveille, Brand and Event Manager for Summit, applauded Wright for his vision to create an important, family-friendly lacrosse event that has only gotten better since its inception.
“Mike created a terrific event with the Niagara Lacrosse Classic and we were more than happy to join forces with him to make it the best it can be every year,” said Leveille, a longtime pro and international player from New York’s Capital Region.
“Buffalo and all of Western New York is an area with so much lacrosse, so many talented players, a weekend like this brings out the best in it and we’re proud to work with Mike and his team,” Leveille said. “But it’s also a spot that’s convenient for teams from non-traditional regions, and it’s exciting to see the game growing through our attending teams.”
The sun was shining bright and the sidelines were full as boys and girls teams competed throughout the day July 16 and into the following day, with an eye toward one of 10 division championships. Meanwhile, college coaches were scattered about on the sidelines at many of the fields throughout the two days.
Gait Lacrosse, the lead sponsor of the first ever Find Your Summit Tour, had a strong presence on site in the bustling vendor and food truck area by way of Albany-based retailer Precision Lacrosse. When they weren’t cheering from the sidelines, families were grabbing a bite to eat, relaxing under the shade of the massive trees within the park or enjoying its many attractions.
Championship teams gathered on the small hill overlooking the playing fields—dubbed the park’s “summit” for the weekend—where they celebrated the occasion with families taking photos and commemorative hats distributed to the victors.
What began as a tournament featuring local squads has grown to a nationally recognized destination tournament with this year’s participating teams traveling from as from as far away as Montana.
“We decided to bring our boys and girls to Niagara this summer for a couple reasons,” said Kevin Flynn, a Director with Treasure State Lacrosse based in Montana.
“Most importantly, we know Kevin (Leveille) and the folks at SLV run great events and focus on the right things. It was a very cool experience for us playing at a unique venue and getting to see new teams. The tournament was a great fit competitively for the boys and girls and everyone had fun. Not much more you can ask for.”
Below is a recap of the divisional champions at the 2022 Niagara Lacrosse Classic, presented by Gait Lacrosse:
Boys 2023: Unity Lacrosse 2023
Girls 2023-2025: Quaker Lax Varsity
Boys 2024: Black Bear 2024
Boys 2025: Black Bear 2025
Boys 2026: Burning River 2026
Boys 2027: Burning River Maroon 2027
Boys 2028-2029 Gold: Evolve 2028-2029
Boys 2028-2029 Silver: NEO Nation Nomads
Boys 2030-2031 10v10: RedBlacks 2032
Boys 2030-2031 8v8: 256 LC
View photos of the Niagara Lacrosse Classic, including each of the championship squads, via the Summit Lacrosse Ventures Facebook page, and mark your calendars for next year’s Niagara Lacrosse Classic, set for July 15 and 16, 2023.
Use the hashtag #FNDURSUMT to follow Summit Lacrosse Ventures and our partners as we travel across the country hosting a total of ten different events this summer.