If you had to pick a city as “Lacrosse Capital of the United States” it would probably be Baltimore.
The capital of the West might be Denver and the capital of the South could be Atlanta.
What’s the lacrosse capital of the West Coast? Sacramento, California is making a serious case for that distinction after Major League Lacrosse announced yesterday the 2017 MLL All-Star Game will be played at Bonney Field in Sacramento. It’s another big step for the state, which will have hosted two straight MLL All-Star Games and is considered one of the fastest growing hotbeds for amateur talent in the country.
One person who offers a unique perspective on California lacrosse is former MLL All-Star Chris Rotelli. Raised in Rhode Island, Rotelli won the Tewaaraton Award at the University of Virginia and went on to play eight seasons in MLL. One of the stops he made as a pro was the Bay Area, when the San Francisco Dragons selected him in the Expansion Draft before the 2006 season.
Rotelli never left California and now heads a lacrosse training program there called ADVNC Lacrosse, which is working in conjunction with MLL to present a two-day youth lacrosse tournament around the All-Star Game.
“I think Northern California is becoming a hotbed for lacrosse,” Rotelli said. “No doubt.
“The game has grown so much in the last 10 years. And it’s grown at every level, but especially at the youth level,” Rotelli said. “Kids are playing the game earlier. There are more great coaches here, so they’re getting great coaching. It seems like if you’re a young kid growing up [in California] it’s a sport you play just like soccer is a sport you play.”
The 2016 MLL All-Star Game took place at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, the first time an MLL event had been held in the Golden State since 2008. Lacrosse is also showing signs of development at the college level. Universities such as USC, Stanford and Cal all offer DI women’s lacrosse.
“Over the next several years, there are going to be a lot of very good lacrosse players coming out of Northern California to play DI college lacrosse. There are currently some very good players playing at places like Harvard and Denver and Princeton.
“People are really excited to rally around the All-Star Game and show their support for Major League Lacrosse, but also to show support for lacrosse in Northern California,” Rotelli said.
Rotelli has a finger on the pulse of lacrosse in California thanks to his work with amateur players through ADVNC lacrosse. His training and development program exposes players to training techniques endorsed by some of the top players in the world. His company mission is to “maximize player potential, enjoyment of the game, and to help our athletes play lacrosse in college.”
Rotelli’s business is aided by a surplus of gifted athletes in the region. California is famous for producing athletes at all levels of competition across many sports, and the coaches who work at ADVNC are taking advantage of that wealth of talent.
“Think about the people who live in California,” Rotelli said. “They’re active people. Typically, they’re very athletic and they like doing things outside. And then, they have kids and it’s no surprise that their kids are very athletic. So, the athletes are absolutely here.”
All told, Rotelli believes lacrosse is thriving in California and he expressed excitement about the future of the game there.
“I feel very lucky and fortunate to be doing what we’re doing with ADVNC in Northern California.”
Click below to learn more about ADVNC Lacrosse and to register for the All-Star Shootout Tournament
To purchase tickets for the 2017 MLL All-Star Game at Bonney Field in Sacramento, click below