Charlotte Lacrosse Club Masters will compete at Lake Placid tournament
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Friday, Aug. 01, 2014

Charlotte Lacrosse Club Masters will compete at Lake Placid tournament

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/30/09/52/zNPpc.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - JOE HABINA
    Members of the Charlotte Lacrosse Club will be playing in the masters competition at the 25th Lake Placid Summit Lax Tournament.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/30/09/52/1cIxXP.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - JOE HABINA
    Charlotte Lacrosse Club masters President Kevin Iwanusa (23) will be playing in the masters competition at the 25th Lake Placid Summit Lax Tournament.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/30/09/52/1pQUca.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - JOE HABINA
    Members of the Charlotte Lacrosse Club will be playing in the masters competition at the 25th Lake Placid Summit Lax Tournament.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/30/09/52/kjJbG.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - JOE HABINA
    Members of the Charlotte Lacrosse Club will be playing in the masters competition at the 25th Lake Placid Summit Lax Tournament.

The Charlotte Lacrosse Club masters players will participate in the 25th Lake Placid Summit Lax Tournament on Aug. 7-10, one of the largest annual gatherings of lacrosse teams in the country.

In 2013, the Charlotte Lacrosse Club participated for the first time, finishing 11th of 12 teams in Masters Division 2 play.

This year, the Charlotteans have a much deeper roster and a deeper feeling they could finish higher in the standings.

Lake Placid, N.Y., will welcome more than 200 teams over several divisions, including youth, open men and women, and masters. Some of Charlotte’s masters players competed in the event many years ago in younger divisions.

Most of the 20 Charlotte masters players are members of the Charlotte Lacrosse Club’s summer league, which plays at the new Rugby Athletic Center on South Boulevard. The Charlotte team will pick up a few players who live in northern states but are friends of local participants.

“We had only eight or nine core guys last year,” said Mike Caplis, a 48-year-old native New Yorker who lives in Mooresville. “We picked up some of my friends to play. The biggest thing is, we have a solid 19-20 guys out of Charlotte that are playing.”

The lacrosse community is close-knit, both on local and national levels. Because many of the Charlotte players are northern transplants, they consider the Lake Placid tournament a way to reunite with friends they played with years ago.

Most of the Charlotte club’s members played in college and remain passionate about the sport.

A player has to be at least 33 years old to qualify as a masters player, and Caplis figures he’s probably one of the two oldest players on Charlotte’s team.

In New York, Caplis once was a neighbor to the two men who founded the Lake Placid tournament 25 years ago. He played in the first six tournaments before moving to Charlotte in the mid-’90s.

Like Caplis, many of CLC’s masters started playing in open tournaments, in which there are no age parameters. Masters club President Kevin Iwanusa, for example, is now 39 but became a member of CLC shortly after graduating from Pfeiffer University, where he was a member of the school’s lacrosse team.

After playing for the club for a couple years, Iwanusa quickly became involved as a club leader. He also is the head coach for Myers Park High School’s team. The Mustangs won the state championship in 2010.

“It’s an opportunity for us to play basically underneath the torch of where the Lake Placid Olympics were held in 1980,” said Iwanusa, who lives in Cotswold. “The masters are guys that are older and can’t travel every weekend to play all the time. We take family and friends and go see the sites. Last year, we went to see the Olympic downhill skiing training center.”

Iwanusa and Caplis both played on last year’s team at Lake Placid but one of Iwanusa’s Myers Park assistants, Scott Schenzer, will be making his first trip. He had to put his lacrosse schedule on hold last summer because his wife was pregnant.

“It’s (hard) enough playing with the masters,” said Schenzer, a 39-year-old uptown Charlotte resident, “but playing in the open division with 20-, 21-, 22-year olds, you wake up the next day feeling like you were in a car accident. Your back is so sore.

“It’s nice to run around with guys my age and older. It’s a little bit easier.”

The masters team will have some informal practices before leaving for Lake Placid, but members figure they have been a part of the sport long enough that playing is just second nature, as Iwanusa said. Just the same, the team doesn’t have a coach.

“We have 15 coaches out there,” said Iwanusa. “Everyone knows better.”

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

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