Capital District lacrosse coaches and families know David Bach as a tireless advocate for lacrosse through the roles that he has served with the Burnt Hills youth lacrosse program, and the youth council of the Adirondack Chapter of US Lacrosse. For the past five years, David has served as one of the three directors of the Gladiator Games along with Tom Schwan and Mike Vorgang. David recently took the time to answer some questions for Capital District Lax regarding the Gladiator Games, and associated tournaments.
Tell us a little about the Gladiator Games lacrosse tournament.
DB: The Gladiator Games was started in 2001 by Tom Schwan (Burnt Hills) and Mike Vorgang (Niskayuna) as a local tournament, developed specifically for teams to get the rust out before hitting the road for the November tournament circuit. Fifteen years later and that intent is still the same; however, the depth of the tournament has grown significantly. Now we host up to 80 teams from six northeastern states and Canada.
How did you become a part of the organization, and what is your role within it?
DB: Five years ago Gladiator was looking to grow and needed a new home. Tom and Mike asked if I could assist with some of the logistics and marketing, and that was the beginning of what we are today. I do a lot of the marketing, correspondence, and organizational management. Although a tournament may take place on one weekend a year, a lot goes into making sure it happens and is a professional experience.
In addition to the long running Gladiator Games boys’ lacrosse tournament, the organization has recently added some other events. Tell us about those tournaments.
DB: Last Spring we launched Battles for Old Glory. Again, the concept of having a pre-Summer tournament, early in the season where teams could face great competition while also feeling their own roster out a bit. The inaugural year was great,
although smaller than what we are used to with the Gladiator Games, it was a great launching pad for years to come. Also, this fall we will host the Sun and No Snow girls’ tournament. This was in direct response to many local and travel teams asking for a fall tournament with high caliber teams in the Capital Region. If you ask where the names of these two new tournaments came from, I will take the blame for those; I am not great at coming up with names, but had to put something out there when I was updating our website, so, for the first I wanted something patriotic and nothing is more patriotic than our great country’s flag. For the fall tourney, well that was just out loud wishful thinking given the date being the second week in November.
What level of competition can teams expect to see at the Gladiator Games and your other events?
DB: With the growth of the Gladiator Games has come an equal growth in the quality of teams. We have competitive teams from all over the northeast playing against the best local teams. We are very proud of the level of competition teams are exposed to, and this really allows our local programs to see outside talent, and how they stack up against high level, outside teams.
In addition to local organizations, where else does the Gladiator Games tend to draw teams from?
DB: We have teams from Central NY, Rochester, Buffalo, Westchester, CT, VT, MA, PA, NJ, Iroquois Nation, and Canada.
Tell us a little about the process of building a tournament game schedule. How do you try to promote competitive match-ups?
DB: Each team registers as either Novice, Intermediate, or Experienced. This, plus our knowledge of the team through observations or conversations allows us to place them appropriately. No one enjoys walking through an uneven tournament, or getting killed all day long, so team placement is very important for team (player, coach, and parent) satisfaction. In our modified, JV, and Varsity divisions there will be championship brackets, so teams will play progressively more fitting teams as they move through the day.
As a lacrosse parent, what do you find to be important in lacrosse tournaments and how do you ensure that those elements are present in the Gladiator Games and associated events?
DB: I credit a few simple things to a successful tournament, and I believe a lot of heads will nod at the first one: BALLS ON ENDLINES. How many times do you attend a tournament costing over $1,000.00 only to find that players are hunting for balls in the woods, or coaches are digging into their own bags to toss a ball to a ref. It is not always easy to manage this aspect of a tournament, as pre-game warm ups and spectators eat balls faster than staff can place them; but it is something we work hard to make sure we have ample balls. The second thing is parking and porta-potties. I know that sounds a bit off, but these three things are very important and the most complained about next to officiating. In the Capital District John Stiso does a great job with the officials, so we don’t worry much about that topic.
What is next for the Gladiator Games organization?
DB: We want to build on the three tournaments we offer, and focus on the quality of the experience and level of competition.
The Gladiator Games – Saturday, October 29, 2016 (boys 3/4 – Varsity)
Sun and No-Snow– Saturday, November 12, 2016 (girls 3/4 – Varsity)
Battles for Old Glory – Late Spring 2017 (boys 3/4 – Varsity)
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