YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. — Old Fort Niagara morphed into a festival this past weekend as the sixteenth annual Niagara Lacrosse Classic drew 85 teams to the beautiful park for two days of competition with nine championships on the line.
Co-hosted by Denver-based Summit Lacrosse Ventures and Buffalo Lacrosse Academy, the Niagara Lacrosse Classic kicked off the morning of July 15 as teams took the fields and their families filled the sidelines of the gorgeous historic fort sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario and the nearby Niagara River.
The weekend-long celebration represented the fifth stop on the 2023 Find Your Summit Tour. Sponsored by Gait Lacrosse, this year’s tour features some of the game’s most exciting tournaments held in spectacular locations across the summer to create the ultimate lacrosse experience.
Intermittent rain showers couldn’t slow the pace of play Saturday as games got underway and cheers came from the sidelines of all 14 fields. Teams were comprised of players as young as the first and second grade (2033-2034), with ten divisions all the way up to a high school senior bracket (2024).
Sunday gave way to beautiful sunny skies as nine different programs would go on to claim championships, later gathering for team photos underneath the archway pass or on the park’s sledding hill, turning it into a summit for post-victory jubilee.
Established in 2007 by Mike Wright, a longtime coach and a leader of the Buffalo lacrosse community, the Classic was founded as a summertime tournament for teams from New York and Ontario to compete in a picturesque setting. Now, the event regularly draws teams from as far out as Ohio and from all parts of New York State.
“It’s a reminder each year that lacrosse is vital to this region and it’s rewarding that so many of the local teams, both club and school-based, are here playing as hard as they can,” said Wright, who played lacrosse at Providence College.
“But we’re also honored to host teams from non-hotbed areas, where the sport is starting to explode. With the way this event has flourished, it’s become an important chance for so many of these young players to come into their own regardless of where they’re from.”
Kevin Leveille, Event and Brand Director for Summit Lacrosse Ventures, began collaborating with Wright and his team in 2019. He considers the Classic a flagship event in Western New York, one that in its existence has seen outstanding players — even current professional players — take the field as young prospects.
“You can’t find a much better spot for teams and families to enjoy a weekend of lacrosse, especially with the lake and so much to do nearby,” said Leveille, a four-time All-American at UMass before going on to star in Major League Lacrosse and to captain Team USA.
“Buffalo has an amazing lacrosse culture and community, and you see it come to life right here every year. And with so many talented Canadian teams close by and American teams attending from any direction, it becomes an incredible two days, and it shows in the form of awesome competition.”
Below is a breakdown of the nine champions crowned at the 2023 NiagaraLacrosse Classic:
Boys 2024: UNITY 2024
Boys 2025: S.O.U.L. Academy – Rising Stars
Boys 2026: Platinum Lacrosse Club
Boys 2027: Beast Lacrosse
Boys 2028: RedBlacks
Boys 2029-2030 Gold: The Hush
Boys 2029-2030 Silver: Jr. Red Raiders
Boys 2031-2032 (10v10): Orange Crush 2031
Boys 2031-2032 (8v8): Evolve
View photos of the Niagara Lacrosse Classic, including each of the championship teams, on the Summit Lacrosse Ventures Facebook page, and mark your calendars for next year’s Niagara Lacrosse Classic, slated for July 20 and 21, 2024.
Be sure to use the hashtag #FNDURSUMT to follow Summit Lacrosse Ventures and our partners as we trek across the country hosting a total of ten different events this summer.