Nick Tubbs has played lacrosse for four years and has mostly traveled outside of his Davidson community to find a place to play.
A veteran of The Clash youth program in Concord, Tubbs plays for Concord’s Jay M. Robinson High School in the spring because his school, Cox Mill, does not field a team. In winter, he plays an indoor season at the Northlake Sports and Entertainment Center.
But when Tubbs’ summer traveling tournament team, Lake Norman-based Lake Lax, opens play in next weekend’s Warrior Southern Sizzle tournament at Mallard Creek Park and Mallard Creek High, Tubbs will consider himself right at home.
Seventy-eight teams from eight states – numbering about 2,000 players from as far away as Michigan and Florida –will converge on Mallard Creek Park’s eight fields to play in seven brackets in what will be the final tournament of the summer season for many teams. Several squads with Charlotte ties, including the University City area, will be competing.
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Lake Lax, which plays under the umbrella of the Lake Norman United program, will enter five teams in four divisions, including Tubbs under-19 “Blue” squad. The Lake Lax U-19 Green team includes a couple of Highland Creek residents, Vale Daniels and Eric Palacios.
“It feels like a hometown tournament … where we’re the hometown team coming in and representing the area,” Tubbs said.
Throughout the year, many high school-age players play for their high school teams, or offshoots of them. Summer traveling teams, however, are often made up of players from different teams. Lake Lax, for example, has many players from Lake Norman High School in Mooresville, this year’s state championship team, but includes other schools’ players, too.
Tubbs, Daniels and Palacios know the feeling of playing on a team with a mix of players from different backgrounds. All three Cox Mills students played on Robinson’s eclectic blend, which included players from five different high schools, including Mallard Creek High.
A rising junior and two-year lacrosse veteran, Daniels appreciates the less formal atmosphere of summer travel team play.
“I like (summer play) because there’s not as much pressure,” he said. “I think it’s more fun and relaxed.”
Lake Lax’s season started with a tournament in Richmond, Va., in mid-May and will conclude with the Warrior Southern Sizzle. Two of its tournaments were played in south Charlotte.
“I haven’t played in (the Southern Sizzle) yet, but I appreciate that it is local,” said Palacios. “I feel like our area needs to grow more in lacrosse so more high schools will get teams.”
The Southern Sizzle also serves as a qualifying tournament for the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Championship tournament in December in Tampa, Fla. Southern Sizzle division winners will advance, but each team’s players will most likely play on different teams in the fall while they wait for the wintertime national tournament.
Last year, two of Lake Lax’s teams, then playing as Lake Norman United, finished as runners-up in their respective divisions. Lake Norman High players Austin McCarthy, Austin Vogel, Mitch Hohler and Jordan Beichler all played on Lake Norman United’s 2011 U-15 team, which placed second at the Southern Sizzle.
Lake Norman United director Brett McCarthy said the Southern Sizzle is one of the better tournaments Lake Lax will play in this summer.
“The level of play is competitive,” he said. “The facilities are in a convenient location. You like to have numerous fields within walking distance.”