In Ski Town Shoot Out, everyone wins | ParkRecord.com

In Ski Town Shoot Out, everyone wins

Tracie Fails, of the Record staff

The Team Utah girls’ lacrosse team knew just how to celebrate after winning a tough game at the Park City Ski Town Shoot Out at Quinn’s Junction on Saturday.

"To the outlets!"

One player’s cheer sparked a rush among the others to gather their gear and get shopping. The team had another game in the evening, but they weren’t about to spoil the afternoon with too much focus.

The athletes’ relaxed attitude belied the fiercely competitive action they sported just moments earlier, but their ability to let the game go after the buzzer exemplified what the Utah Lacrosse Association (ULA) hoped to achieve with the third annual Shoot Out.

"Our goal was to have fun and learn," said tournament director Michael O’Malley. "We didn’t determine a champion because we wanted to focus on education and honoring the game instead."

The tournament, which ran June 13-16, also gave teams in the West a closer venue than the East Coast, traditionally the only place to find multi-state summer events.

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"Lacrosse is growing like a weed all over the place," O’Malley said. "It used to be unheard of in the West, but that’s changing now. There are some really great teams in this part of the country, and we wanted to give Utah players a ruler in which to measure our progress."

O’Malley listed Texas, California and Colorado as the "Gold Standard" of the West, but at least one Utah team proved that it could stand up to the competition.

Team Utah beat Team Texas, 5-3, before their shopping spree no small feat, given the Texans’ size and speed.

Angie Leedy, Team Utah’s coach, was especially pleased with the players’ cooperation.

"The girls are from all over the state, so they haven’t played together very long," she said. "It was great to see them talk to each other and play with such a whole-team effort."

Clara Kilbourn, who plays for the Park City High School club lacrosse team, showed strong vocal leadership and aggression during the game. She was excited with the team’s start-to-end improvement.

"We didn’t start off as well as we could have, but we really stepped it up in the second half," she said. Allison Reynolds and Madison Bell also represented PCHS club lacrosse with tough play.

This year’s shootout featured 43 teams from eight states, as well as one from British Columbia. The furthest traveling squad was a high school boys’ team from Maryland.

"We were pleasantly surprised some East Coasters came out," O’Malley said. "The guys had a blast, so hopefully we’ll see more teams from that area next year."

Kathy Shurtleff, the girls’ tournament director, doesn’t care where the players come from as long as girls’ lacrosse continues to grow.

"Girls’ teams were invited for the first time last year, and no one showed up," she said. "It was a little frustrating. But we didn’t have the under-17 division then, which we added this year, and the turnout has been great." The 11 female teams equal the number of boys’ programs in the tournament’s rookie year, giving Shurtleff confidence that the girls will soon catch up.

"It’s all been very positive and forward moving," she said of the girls’ development. "It’s growing at all levels."

Shurtleff was also pleased to see Park City host a local tournament. "Some of the kids might not be able to travel, so it’s really great for them to have a chance to see this kind of competition at home," she said.

Hosting wasn’t so bad for Park City either, O’Malley said.

"The tournament brought in 2,500 room-nights for surrounding hotels," he said. "And out-of-town visitors had a chance to see Park City at it’s best. People had a ball. In that sense, it was a huge success."