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July 9, 2018 / Cissy Aberg / , / Comments

Are We Still in Plano, Texas? This is Lacrosse!

In a few short years, lacrosse has become a big thing in north Texas. Plano hosted the Texas High School Lacrosse championships and two of the largest lacrosse tournaments in the state, while our suburban neighbor, Frisco, both acquired a Major League Lacrosse team from Rochester, New York and hosted the Major League Lacrosse championship in 2017. Elite youth lacrosse has found a home in Plano and the Dallas Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse have a home with the Dallas Cowboys at The Star in Frisco. Are we still in Texas, Toto?

Lacrosse Tournaments Find Home in Plano

Clearly, the dramatic growth of the sport of lacrosse in the United States has not been lost on the sports-centric demographic of north Texas. But, as one might imagine, finding room for lacrosse on Texas football fields is not so easily accomplished. Pattison Sports Group (PSG), a small sports marketing firm out of Pennsylvania, searched for some time for a Texas park big enough to grow into. They found a home in Plano, where a tournament-grade soccer park provided the space, a professional athletic staff shared their vision with a hospitality bureau searching for diversification.

After six years, Texas Draw, their June event at Russell Creek Park in Plano, is the single largest lacrosse tournament in the state and with the addition of a college-coached clinic and all-star games, it is the place to see and be seen in youth lacrosse. PSG’s second Victory Event Series in Texas, Cowboy Cup, has also grown quickly, even though it’s right smack in the middle of football season. Pulling from a burgeoning Texas High School Lacrosse League and surrounding states like Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, PSG combines marketing expertise and a untapped Texas market with sponsors and vendors eager to enter the fray. Gatorade is on every field and an extensive vendor village and complimentary coach’s social create a festive and sociable atmosphere.

“Russell Creek Park is an elite facility and working with Plano’s professional athletic staff and the convention and visitors bureau has allowed us to focus on building team relationships and improving our customer’s experience,” said Jeff Long, founder of PSG. “We always look forward to coming to Plano.”

Early on, when their Friday night clinic was once rained-out, Long was able to find an artificial turf field at a nearby middle school through one of his team coaches. Where else but Texas would you drive off the highway, through a small town and down a gravel road to get to an artificial turf field at a public middle school out in the middle of nowhere? One can only imagine the relief of Syracuse lacrosse coach, John Desko, when a brick schoolhouse and bleacher seating finally came into view!

The following year, Long insured against the clinic rain-out and found a back-up venue for the popular Friday night Skills Clinic and All-Star Games at Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA). PSG hit it off with PCA so well, that the back-up venue is now a permanent home for Friday night and turned an optional skills clinic into a hugely popular pre-tournament event. That Friday evening is a special opportunity to learn from the old lacrosse guard, gain exposure to elite college coaches and to participate in one of two invitation-only All-Star games.

Lacrosse on football fields and soccer parks has to be carefully managed. The wear on the fields is very intense and they expect a lot of amenities and access that a simple soccer tournament would never think of. But it’s just another youth sport tournament to the Plano Parks and Rec staff and it’s no big thing.

Cover photo credit: Diann Bayes
Gallery photo credits (left to right): First row: Arena Blake and Colleen Pence; Second row: Dawn Monroe, Colleen Pence, Dawn Monroe; Last row: Nan Palmero