Over the weekend the 8th Annual Brawl in McCall Lacrosse Tournament took place in scenic McCall, Idaho. You probably knew that. If you didn’t, you do now. Before I get to any meaningful coverage of the 2011 iteration, I thought maybe I’d take a step or eight back and discuss the storied history of this much ballyhooed event. Why? Because there’s only one of me writing entries for this silly blog (HELP WANTED) and I need to milk this tournament for all the content that it’s worth (and then some).Click here to see a list of Brawl coverage already up on the main LaxAllStars.com site. Click here to see
Editor’s Note: Much of this is definitely true. Some of it is assumed based on my knowledge of humans, and specifically the ones in this story. The assumed parts will be written in green. I’m not a historian, so some parts will be a bit wrong. Feel free to chime in with corrections in the comments section.
Olde Tad Arnt and Olde Tad’s Cup
In 2004, Olde Tad Arnt drunkenly decided that what Tad and this State really needed was a really official-sounding excuse for Tad and his buddies to go up to McCall and drink and play lacrosse for a couple of days. This prompted Olde Tad to commit two very important acts: (1) conceive and organize the First Annual Brawl in McCall Lacrosse Tournament, and (2) purchase Olde Tad’s Cup (which he drunkenly stumbled upon in a roadside store on his way up to McCall and decided to purchase for the tournament).
In 2004, BK alum and future head coach Blake Gaudet had spent a couple of years playing for the University of Utah and accumulating credit/friends/wellwishers in the Salt Lake City lax community. Upon hearing about the Brawl in McCall, a light evidently went on in Blake’s head and he became the first person in Idaho to realize that he could actually field a lacrosse club composed entirely of people that he actually wanted to play with and thus formed the now-infamous Woozles, comprised of an assortment of Knights and Utes who were generally better at playing lacrosse than the rest of us.
Now I can’t rightly remember who all was in attendance at those first couple tournaments. To the best of my recollection, I believe that the University of Idaho brought a squad (actually I know this for sure because I played for it), as did Boise State (I know this too because we lost to them), a team composed of older guys from Boise (whom I believe we called the “Old Men”), a team out of Montana, and the Woozles. There may have been more but it was a long damn time ago and I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is that the Woozles showed up with better uniforms than the rest of us, stomped everyone but good, popped bottles to celebrate like heathen kings of old (more on this later), and stormed off gloriously with Olde Tad’s Cup in both 2004 and 2005. Blake Gaudet slept nightly with Olde Tad’s Cup for the next (spoiler alert) four years.
2006: Here We Have RIDAHO / the thWeepete
Here’s the thing: Woozles did it first. Pink I mean. Woozles wore pink first, before it got all lax trendy. So when a bunch of guys from Utah (with whom Idaho players have a long-standing rivalry anyways) and a bunch of guys from Bishop Kelly (who’d won most of the Idaho state high school championships at that point) teamed up and whooped us in pink…twice… it stung a bit. It stung a bit more when they popped bubbly on the field and drank out of a glorious golden cup glinting in the sunlight. Twice. So, some changes had to be made.
Exit the Idaho and BSU teams; enter Team RIDAHO. As anyone from or familiar with this State might guess, there is no bigger rivalry in Idaho lacrosse than the rivalry between the Vandals and Broncos. The variable, however, is that during the summer, all the Vandal players from Boise play summer league with the Bronco players. So for many, the rivalry is actually pretty friendly — especially during the summer. Thus, when the Horn of Gondor sounded, Bronco and Vandal alike put their differences aside to unite against a common enemy as Team RIDAHO.[Photography missing: Apparently we looked so ugly that no one bothered to take any pictures of us.]
The rest of the tournament field was improving too. By this time, the Brawl had attracted the Palo Alto Ducks out of California. From the state of Montana we had alum teams from both University of Montana and Montana State. There were other teams too, I reckon. Or maybe not. Whatever.
The RIDAHO purpose was fulfilled… nearly. Ridaho made it to the championship but to no avail. Woozles completed the threepete without breaking much of a sweat.
2007: The Goal That Never Was
In 2007, the Palo Alto Ducks arrived in skin-tight purple UnderArmour tops that said Hephalumps. Suffice it to say, in the Brawl’s fourth year, the Woozles had a big pink-and-black target on their backs.
Unfortunately for the Hephalumps, they weren’t quite up the task. The Montana teams were competitive as always, but still couldn’t quite challenge the ever-improving Woozles.
However, RIDAHO looked a bit different this year. They’d upgraded duds (though compared to the sublimated uniform standards of today, RIDAHO still looked pretty haggard) and trimmed some of the fat.
The refinement yielded a much-improved RIDAHO squad and culminated in the most unquestionably exciting and closely-fought championship game in Brawl’s four-year history. At the end of regulation, RIDAHO and the Woozles were knotted at 9 each. Sudden death for glory. Right? Wrong. What no one could anticipate is that one ref who shall not be named (but whose name might rhyme with Bim Belliot) had other plans. It is unknown whether he wanted to go home, if he was tired, bored, or if he simply happened to pick that crucial moment to make the worst call in the history of officiating…
At about the 4-minute mark in a furious overtime, the Woozles brought the ball down and (I believe it was one of the Qualey Bros. of Utah) took a rip. RIDAHO keeper Shawn Carman got his body in front of it and the ball dropped to the ground in the crease in front of the goal line. Both teams positioned for RIDAHO’s clear. But then something happened that the Ring did not intend: the whistle blew and Jim Elliot’s (whoops) hands shot into the air to declare a goal, a winner, the end of the game, and a champion. Woozles were surprised. RIDAHO was outraged (choice words flowed like cheap wine). But then, as now, what’s done was done.
Now, who is to say who would have won that game if not for this debacle? Maybe the Wooz, maybe not. What’s undeniable is that it would have been a lot more satisfying one way or the other to find out fair and square.
The Woozles, not being ones to look a gifthorse in the mouth (and why would they?) had their fourth and final champagney celebration on the green fields of McCall, Idaho and having proven their point one way or the other four times consecutively and seeing no reason to push their luck rode off into the sunset never to reappear at the Brawl in McCall again.
2008: The King Is
Dead Gone, Long Live The King
As alluded to (or maybe stated outright) above, the Woozles would not return to the Brawl; they departed permanently for the shores of Lake Tahoe, and who could blame them? Frankly, the level of competition those first four years wasn’t great. That 2007 championship may have been the first and only real challenge that the Woozles ever faced. If you’re only going to assemble one time per year, you can’t be faulted for relocating to the Lake Tahoe Lacrosse Tournament (aka paradise on earth).
This was unfortunate for the Brawl as, Woozles notwithstanding, the level of competition began to shift markedly upwards in 2008. RIDAHO returned much improved in terms of both talent and aesthetics.
Montana brought the best team that they ever fielded at the tournament, having combined the UM and MSU squads to create Team Swayze.
Furthermore, another high quality Idaho team had formed: the Whistlepigs, which had played very competitively in the 2008 Park City Ski Town Shootout just over a month before the Brawl. Palo Alto was present as always and a number of Team Idaho alums had put together a squad dubbed “Team X”. However, conspicuously absent was a University of Washington squad that had signed up — they never arrived and never responded to any emails or phone calls from them on (thanks for nothing guys). After a last second schedule rearrangement, the tournament got underway.
Though the tournament field was collectively improved, the absence of the Woozles left a disparity at the top. Without their old rivals around, RIDAHO stormed through the competition and dashed Swayze in the finals something to the effect of 14-3.
The previous four years, RIDAHO had watched the Woozles go apesh*t every time they won a tournament: champagne was sprayed everywhere, everyone was obnoxious, and RIDAHO and the other victims packed up their gear muttering about poor sportsmanship. But on that day in 2008, RIDAHO finally understood: when you win a summer tournament, you have no choice at all but to enjoy it as much as you can. RIDAHO popped bottles, hooted, hollered, carried on, and had a great time being asses — just as the Woozles had done before them. Let’s get real here: how often will anyone ever be declared “champion” of anything? Where’s the harm in soaking it up?
It didn’t end there, though. If you ever need to take anything way way way over the top, the Band Bros. are probably your best bet. The lads got their money’s worth out of Olde Tad’s Cup (affectionately dubbed “Trophes”). Here, reproduced in its entirety, is the first episode of Trophy Travels:
2009: The King Is
Dead Gone a Pirate, Long Live The King
Now, one would think that RIDAHO might want to let it ride after waiting for so long to take home the ‘ship. But the thing about a club team is that sometimes a roster stagnates and you’re left with grandfathered-in roster members who don’t even play anymore except for the Brawl. That’s all well and good if all you care about is broing out. But if you want to bro out and get better at lacrosse and maybe even show some people that Idaho lacrosse can be pretty good, sometimes you have to make some tough choices. Hence the death of RIDAHO, which had accumulated a sizable number of still-rostered players who didn’t really play much anymore.
And simultaneously, hence the foundation of Scallywags, a recombination of RIDAHO and Whistlepigs (who had somehow developed a little intrastate club rivalry that needed to be put aside). Scallywags were fresh off their championship-by-forfeit at the 2009 Park City Ski Town Shootout and came into the 6th Brawl in McCall knowing one thing for sure: that they were very self-satisfied with their pirate-themed uniforms.
New to the Brawl that year was Tribe, a team out of Issaquah which featuring a number of University of Washington players/alums and a bunch of other absolute studs that had come through the Issaquah high school program and gone on to play for Idaho, Oregon, Whittier, and others.
A combination of the usual suspects were present as well: Palo Alto, Montana (now 406Lax), Team Idaho alums (now Baked Taters), and a new team out of northern Idaho called Nobody Lax.
It quickly became apparent that Issaquah was the team to beat. Issaquah put Scallywags in their place 7-2 on Day One and throttled everyone to go into the championship undefeated (and pretty much completely unscathed). This next part is in green because its an assumption, but its a very very likely one: nobody playing for Issaquah had ever lost to anybody from Idaho, nor did they have any intention of it. Issaquah very much appeared to be the best team that had ever stepped foot at the Brawl and they knew it.
After opening the tournament 0-1 courtesy of Tribe, Scallywags swashbuckled their way through 406Lax, Baked Taters, and Nobody Lax to earn a rematch against Issaquah in the championship. Issaquah, having no reason to believe that they had anything to fear, came out of the gate with swagger. Scallywags, on the other hand, having no reason to believe they had anything to lose, came out with fire. Every now and again, that combination can produce one helluva competition — this was one of those times.
Issaquah led for most of the game, but never by more than 2. With just over five minutes in the game, Scallywags tied it at 6. And then with four minutes left, Grant Band stripped a Tribe pole on a clear and fed TJ Williams on the crease who circumspectly decided to finish behind the back. Scallywags had taken their first lead 7-6, and now had only to hold off Issaquah’s reprisal to complete the upset. In perhaps the most intense four minutes of action yet seen at the Brawl in McCall, Scallywags kept the ball out of the hands of Tribe’s bombers and ran out the clock with the help of a couple of clutch saves by Shawn Carman. Cue hysterics:
2010: It Ain’t Easy
The 7th Brawl in McCall continued the upward trend in competition. Scallywags were back, of course. Issaquah returned and when the boys over on Bainbridge Island found out that a Seattle team had lost to a Boise team the previous year, they raised the fire wyrm to defend the honor of the Space Needle. Or whatever. So Bainbridge Island sent a team as well (KAVU). Bigfoot Lacrosse, out of Portland, sent light infantry — not their whole squad, but a batch of qualified candidates backed by some LAS/Woozle friendlies. Nobody Lax and 406Lax rounded it out.
So how’d things turn out? I’ll let these Facebook statuses (statii?) tell the tale since I was at home with a torn ACL and I’m getting really tired of writing this anyways:
Now that you’re all caught up, we can move on to current affairs… which I’ll do in my next post. So tune in next time for topics which may include: Dock Danglin’, Flava Fletch and the Fantastic 15, Team LAS and the Incredible Eck, and a Letter to the Editor on Tournament Etiquette.