photo by Jerry Baldock
photo by Jerry Baldock
Sisters put on its most colorful spring clothes last weekend for the Sisters Annual Lacrosse Invitational (SALI) Tournament.

The weather was perfect — temperatures in the low 70s with little wind, and the skies were completely clear thanks to a Forest Service pause in their annual spring prescribed burning program (see related story, page 1).

The tournament, sponsored by Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD), and held on every available field in Sisters, hosted 83 teams — 20 more than last year.

SPRD’s Chad Rush, who took the lead in organizing the event, attributed the increase to a couple of factors.

“We had more girls teams this year (nine),” he said. “This is the second year offering games for girls.”

And, he noted, “We have new clubs that haven’t been here before.”

SALI pulls in teams from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. Rush noted that some teams that previously have fielded 5th/6th-grade teams now are fielding individual teams at each grade level — an indication of the growing popularity of the sport.

Lady Outlaws Coach Shelby Wilcox was enjoying her first experience of SALI.

“It brings a lot of camaraderie for the girls,” she said. “They look forward to SALI every year and I think it’s something they’re really proud of being a part of. There’s something to be said for a warm day — it’s 75 degrees — and being together on these fields doing what we love. There was nothing like this when I was growing up playing lacrosse.”

Wilcox grew up in Livermore, California, and was among the early adopters of what was then a new sport on the West Coast. She loves the nature of play.

“There’s a really beautiful element of finesse,” she said. “It’s an artistic sport, in my opinion.”

SPRD recruited about 80 volunteers to stage the event, which has become one of the major events in Sisters.

No formal studies have been done to determine the economic impact of the event, but it is evident that bringing families totaling several thousand people to town in mid-May is a significant shot in the arm for a tourist economy coming off of winter. Lodging establishments and restaurants filled up through the weekend, and the schedule allowed families time to explore downtown Sisters.

But the focus remains located on the green grass, where the shouts of players and the cheers of spectators rose through the air of a perfect spring weekend in Sisters.