Annual lacrosse festival slated for Winchester

Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse will once again be holding its LAX Fest event on Feb. 8 at Body Renew Fitness and Family Sports Center (formerly the Sportsplex) in Winchester.

LAX Fest, the SVYL’s annual attempt to generate interest in lacrosse throughout the Shenandoah Valley, will have a slightly different feel this year. In part due to the ever-growing participation in the sport, SVYL was able to organize a winter indoor league this year at the Body Renew facility. This winter’s LAX Fest will serve as both a celebratory capstone for SVYL’s inaugural winter season and a recruiting venture.

“It will be the last games, so we want to make it fun for those players, plus we’re still wanting to recruit more players,” SVYL vice president Mike Spangler said Wednesday.

“We’re just trying to bring lacrosse to the valley and we’re just trying to get it out there and grow it every year.”

Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse, which caters to local youth residing in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties, is open to boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 18.

This year’s LAX Fest, which is free to attend and takes place from noon to 4 p.m., will offer its usual array of “stations,” Spangler said, featuring something for players of all skill levels.

“For kids that have never even touched a stick we’re going to have sticks there and they’re going to be able to pick them up,” Spangler said, “and we’re going to have one of our coaches that’s going to do a basic ‘this is lacrosse’ clinic, teach them the basics of everything.”

Other stations will include a fastest shot contest, an accuracy competition where players will take shots at clay pigeons, a stick-handling contest and a trick shot competition that could feature Go-Pro cameras mounted to the lacrosse sticks, Spangler said. He added that raffles will also be conducted throughout the event and will include prizes such as lacrosse sticks and other items donated by SVYL coaches.

LAX Fest also will include informative sessions for parents, Spangler said, as well as instructional videos created by professional lacrosse players.

In addition to the various stations, players will also have the chance to watch the SVYL’s indoor “box” lacrosse games being played throughout the event, offering beginners a chance to observe the sport first-hand.

“The thing is, you always have to start somewhere and we don’t want 12-, 13-, 14-year-old boys and girls to think that they’re too old to play because they’ll be there with quite a bit of other 12-, 13- or 14-year-olds who have never played as well,” said Spangler, who added that SVYL is pushing to generate more interest in lacrosse among girls.

Registration for the SVYL’s spring outdoor league, which is now open, will also be available at LAX Fest, and the event will serve as the final chance for players to sign up during the early registration period. The early registration fee is $75, and the price jumps to $85 after Feb. 8 through the final day of spring registration on March 3. SVYL play, which is divided into teams based on location and age group, begins during the first week of March, Spangler said.

Spangler noted that lacrosse equipment will be available for purchase at LAX Fest, although he said SVYL does offer equipment for use by players and has secured some equipment grants for club teams located in Front Royal and Winchester this spring.

“SVYL does not want the expense of equipment to keep children from playing,” he said.

According to Spangler, SVYL is expecting around 150 players to participate in the upcoming spring season and will field club teams in Winchester, Woodstock and Front Royal (a new addition this year). Spangler added SVYL is hoping to add a club in Strasburg this spring.

Any questions about the registration process for Shenandoah Valley Youth Lacrosse can be sent to

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or