Women's Club Canvas: Ready for a Shootout
by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
The University of California at Santa Barbara will open
its arms to the top WDIA programs in the nation this weekend for
the 21st edition of the Santa Barbara Shootout.
For updates on the tournament, which has been
revised due to weather, check out Jac Coyne's Santa Barbara Blog.
Look at the preseason WDIA rankings. And now look at what teams are coming to the Santa Barbara Shootout.
Now you know why this swanky hamlet, located about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, will be the epicenter of the women's club lacrosse world on the Valentine's Day weekend. Defending champion and preseason No. 1 Colorado State leads a contingent of 12 ranked teams headlining the 21st edition of the Shootout.
The schedule for the event is jam-packed on both Saturday and Sunday with as many as eight different games - ranging from U-15 club teams to top-drawer WDIA programs - going at the same time. The Shootout kicks off Friday evening with a round of games before a battle between No. 4 UCSB and No. 6 Michigan takes center stage under the lights at Harder Stadium.
The person making this tournament tick is UCSB's Paul Ramsey, who is in his second stint as the head coach of the Gauchos. Since I'll be flying in to cover the Shootout this year, I figured I'd check in with Ramsey and ask him a couple of questions about the event.
Judging by the amount of teams you have and the various divisions, preparing for the Shootout looks like it could be a full-time job. Is this something you do because it helps your program, or is it a sacrifice of sorts you make for the good of the WDIA?
Labor of love? Well, some people run tournaments for profit as their full-time job and do well with it. This particular tournament just comes with the job description of getting to coach at UCSB. Honestly though, I do a lot of the advance work, but the physical part of it and any work once it starts gets handled by the players and our great team of rec sports staff here at UCSB.
We're fortunate that rec sports here is a mini athletic department. Lining the fields, setting up the game day needs on the fields, keeping water jugs full, sports medicine coverage and more is all staffed by our department. We have a full-time trainer, and he has staff. We don't even have to outsource that. We have a full-time sport club coordinator, and he has staff. He doesn't have intramural duties or anything else. It's a great situation.
Does the Shootout sell itself at this point, or do you have to actively pursue the top teams?
It almost sells itself based on the reputation of our facilities and the competition the top teams know they will get. Adding a WDIA division last year and changing the length of the games so that everything counts on national records has been a big help. Now all I have to do is spread the word about that.
Our marketing budget is our overall Web site cost of $95 per year. That's courtesy of a great Web site template from laxteams.net. The other part of our budget is my university e-mail account. That comes with being a part-time staff person at UCSB. Of course, the team has made it a priority to have a coach retained at about 50-percent time, so I'm available to help them with projects like this tournament.
You've got a high school and club component. Is that something you sought? What was the genesis of adding those groups?
That is something I'm trying to build. It's taking longer than the WDIA division, which took one year of trying. Now I'm on year two trying to get it up to eight high school teams and eight U-15 teams. We're not quite there, but I would very much like to have at least four distinct levels of play all mixing together, walking past each other and watching each other's games.
The ultimate will be to have enough post-collegiate teams come in from all over the country that we run a "po-co" championship division with some real geographic representation. We used to get teams from Seattle, Philly and Baltimore. One year we had the Canadian National Team. I'd like to get back to that.
What's the atmosphere like at the Shootout? Is it kind of a breezy, let's-go-out-and-play-lacrosse type atmosphere, or is there an edge when the top teams play each other?
It is super-competitive on the field now. For one thing, we're playing the minimum game time of 25-minute halves, and teams play only two games a day. It used to be 20-minute halves and cram five or six games in over the weekend. Now that the games count on your national record and affect possible at-large spots for the WDIA National Championship Tournament, while only having to get mentally psyched for two games, it really lets teams crank it up.
Do the local merchants/restaurants/etc., get geared up for the Shootout, and does the community recognize the event, or is it just a blip on the Santa Barbara consciousness?
Not yet. The business used to really get involved when I ran this event back in the 90's (1990 - 1997). Then I left here to pursue opportunities elsewhere, first at Holy Cross and then at Hofstra, and all those relationships were lost. The first group I got involved with when I got back was the hotels, since it takes five or six hotels to house everyone. That, though, results in a lower room rate for the teams and a scant five comp rooms for me to use to house officials. Helpful, yes, but only the tip of what we should be realizing with 51 teams here in town.
We need a "where to eat" guide that restaurants buy into. Maybe that's cash, or maybe it's team meals for later in the season. We need a car rental agency to refer teams to for vans, and then that agency helps us out with a percentage or something. I'd like to get someone in the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce involved, because that's someone who already has contacts and could estimate the dollar value of bringing 51 teams into town. It has to be a six-figure amount, but the time in the day for me to delve into that just isn't there right now. Thank goodness we get the support we do from Brine for balls and nets. That helps us until we can get some groundswell going with the local businesses.
Is it a relief of sorts when the event is done, or is exciting to have all the activity?
I really like walking around and networking with the coaches on different fields and seeing eight fields of lacrosse being played at a time, parents lining the sidelines to support their daughters, officials going for their district rating, and teams cheering for a great play by their teammate. Camaraderie is the one-word term for it.
However, when the last game is over and there is light at the end of the tunnel for the last goal getting put away and the last piece of trash picked up and, then, when I get home and pass out....well there is not much more relief felt than that.
Can you remember a funny story from one of the past Shootouts that kind of sums up what the weekend is about?
We used to put everyone up. At the time that the Shootout was only about a dozen teams, they would all arrive sometime Friday evening and hosts had been pre-arranged to house sometimes up to eight or nine guests. Everyone brought sleeping bags to scatter all over Isla Vista (college town next to UCSB) and sleep on floors, couches, whatever. It created friendships and social situations that we don't get anymore. Wait...I don't think I should relay this story. No, nothing memorable I can pass on. It's all been good times, though. I can tell you that.
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