The Outlaws fielded one of 68 teams at the SALI tournament, which brought 3,500 to Sisters. photo by Jerry Baldock
The Outlaws fielded one of 68 teams at the SALI tournament, which brought 3,500 to Sisters. photo by Jerry Baldock

SALI (Sisters Annual Lacrosse Invitational) marked its 10th year with an influx of teams, parents, and fans from all over the Northwest, including Washington, California, Nevada and Oregon, for a big three-day weekend.

Entire programs from first grade all the way through high school varsity were represented. Last year, SALI drew over 5,000 people and 88 teams from around the Northwest. This year, they dialed back a bit and didn't include as large a varsity component due to state playoff conflicts; however, 68 teams and an estimated 3,500 people were at the event.

Andrew Gorayeb, chairman of Outlaws Lacrosse for the past eight years, told The Nugget that the whole purpose of the SALI event is aimed toward the kids.

"SALI is an opportunity for us to bring the Northwest lacrosse community together and inject our Sisters culture into the game," said Gorayeb. "It's a positive influence for our sport throughout the region."

Approximately 1,600 players kept the nine fields at the middle school and high school busy with a total of 140 games over the course of the weekend.

Second-grader Baylor Dyer loved the competition.

"Most of the players were really aggressive, and I like that," said Dyer. "I like bumping into players. It was very fun."

Seniors Maison Morgan and Scott Nelson shared their thoughts on the tournament.

Morgan said, "I absolutely love lacrosse, and in a place where lacrosse is not that popular it's great to see numerous teams coming together to play and enjoy the game. It's nice to welcome girls from the other teams. It's not as competitive as a season game, so we can really take time to admire other players' skills instead of getting so caught up in the score."

Nelson said, "The SALI Tournament brings the whole community together. We raise a lot of money and it brings a lot of business to the town. The games we get to play are really fun. We don't have to take it so serious or try to win the tournament. It's a chance for us to contribute and give back to the community."

Outlaws parent Chris Mayes, who has two sons in the program, told The Nugget he loves the SALI tournament.

"It's so much fun!" said Mayes. "We get to see teams from all over the region and see where the Outlaws stand against some good competition."

Lance Brant, who lives in Tumalo and has two kids at Ridgeview High, also had positive comments.

"I'm a CPA, and so I really appreciate the fact the tournament is so organized and everyone is so pleasant," said Brant. "We just started lacrosse at Ridgeview this year and so it's really nice to have a bracket of competition suitable to our level of play, which is JV."

Even the officials love coming to SALI.

Craig Poole of Salem, one of the lead officials, said, "Andrew (Gorayeb) and Bill (Rexford) are an incredible asset in promoting Oregon lacrosse the right way. This tournament showcases little kids to the high-level varsity programs. The location, the setup, the organization, and the wonderful volunteers are the best. And, it's an amazing boon to the community. It's just the best, and a win-win for everybody. On behalf of the officials, we love coming here."

Outlaws Lacrosse had to pay for the use of the fields since they are not an OSAA-sanctioned sport, but will still net approximately $5,000 for the program. Monies will go to repay SPRD for scholarships that allowed kids to participate in the program.

The SALI Tournament has come a long way since its inception, and Gorayeb has even bigger dreams for the future.

"We're working on building an endowment, and our goal is to someday have an endowment large enough so we can have an income and afford to give consistent, funded annual scholarships to lacrosse players," he said.