Dan Hesson came for the lacrosse, but he stayed for the pizza.
Hesson, who coaches the varsity boys lacrosse team for Cheyenne Central High School in Wyoming, drove 127 miles this past weekend to lead his team against a host of unknown competition in the third annual Mountain Lax Jam.
The Indians certainly got that, as 65 teams combined for more than 150 games in the two-day tournament that was held in Evergreen and Conifer.
“That’s why we come,” Hesson said Saturday, May 16, as he team was warming up at Evergreen Middle School before its first match. “It gives us a chance to see some different teams and get out of the league-play scene for a while.”
And after all the games were done, Hesson was spending the night because he had a craving to fulfill: Beau Jo’s Pizza.
“I love it,” Hesson said laughing.
There was a lot of love to be had for lacrosse fans and players. The weather was beautiful over the weekend and the crowds seemed satiated by the passing and pageantry of teams from as far as Wyoming, Aspen and Parachute, and as near as Conifer and Evergreen.
Mountain Lacrosse League president Andrew Fletcher said on the event Website that an estimated 3,000 people of various ages were present for the tournament.
Those were good numbers, especially when you’re selling food – some of which was donated by local shops such as the Bagelery – to the masses.
“Numbers up, definitely,” said Evergreen junior Sydney Berdon, who was working the EHS girls lacrosse booth that was selling food to raise money for uniforms.
“I think it’s great to see all the teams out here,” she said. “And to have it here, for Evergreen, is even better.”
Call it a microcosm of the sport, which is one of the fastest growing sports for young prep and club athletes. Large tournaments for high school teams have yet to meet that demand, but the Mountain Lax Jam is certainly doing its part.
And that means enticing a coach such as Hesson and several the rival schools in Cheyenne to make the trip and seem some new styles and tactics.
Where else will one see Windsor taking on Conifer? Call it a competitive a treat, even if the Wizards were moving like magic through the Lobos’ physically smaller defense. And where else would Aspen roll into town with multiple teams and early whispers that it was probably the team to beat?
“It’s growing. Fast,” Hesson said of the sport.
And so is that desire for some pizza.