This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Under the shade of a tree at Sunnyside Park last Wednesday, about 100 high school lacrosse players sat and listened to the Denver Outlaws' Brendan Mundorf, one of the best attackers in Major League Lacrosse.
The players aren't completely new to the sport. They know as much about the sport as anyone from Utah can know about lacrosse, a sport that has historically been a regional one, based in and around New England, New York and mid-Atlantic states.
Seeing the faces of those 100 kids as they watched Mundorf intently is why Drew Searl started the East meets West lacrosse camp. Searl -- who is originally from Delaware and also lived in Utah, where he coached Judge Memorial at the start of club lacrosse at the high school level -- started the camp in 2001. He has seen the popularity as well as the skill level of the players improve every year he has held the event.
"When I coached at Judge, I saw kids that were interested but there wasn't enough coaches to teach them," Searl said. "With the connections I had through my own playing experience, I knew I was able to bring in coaches local kids won't be exposed to in Utah."
Searl, who played lacrosse for Syracuse University, brought in some of the best players around. For the three-and-a-half day camp that ran from Aug. 10-13 this season, Searl brought in Jim Beardmore, Taylor Simmers, Sean McCarthy, Eric Martin and Mundorf. There were also some local players and coaches who helped out.
Simmers, McCarthy, Martin and Mundorf have all played in the MLL and Beardmore is a former coach of the Denver Outlaws. All the coaches are originally from the East Coast.
William Cisneros, one of 107 kids attending the camp, said it was inspiring to have current and former professionals teaching him the fundamentals.
"We don't have any big-time players, they're all from the East," said Cisneros, who was at the camp for the fifth year in a row. "This is the best of the best and it's nice they want to share their knowledge."
Cisneros is in the eighth grade and will attend Judge Memorial when he gets into high school. Although a majority of the participants are from Judge, there were players from Olympus, Alta, Park City and even Logan.
Taylor Willis, an upcoming junior at Logan, traveled the farthest to get to the camp. He heard about it while surfing the Internet and it wasn't a hard sell to get his parents to allow him to come.
"They know it's what I love to do," Willis said. "It's far but I wanted the best experience. It's only been a couple days but I've improved a lot. They've given me a lot of stuff I can work on."
Improving is the main goal of the camp. Beardmore, who has attended almost every camp since it started, said the players' skills get better every year.
"It used to be you would see about three kids that are really good," Beardmore said. "Then it was 10 kids who had really good stick skills. More and more, we get kids who understand the game and their stick skills are better."
When the camp first started, it drew 60 kids. Last year, 135 signed up. Even in the economic downturn, more than 100 kids turned up for the camp.
The same kids return and they spread the word.
"My brothers played at Olympus and they knew Drew," said Collin Madsen, an upcoming senior at Olympus. "This is my fourth year and each year I've gotten better."
Searl knows Utah has quality athletes and as long as there are kids who show interest, he'll continue to bring the most qualified coaches to teach them the game.
"There was a need and I thought I could fill it," Searl said. "Every year, the talent is better. I want to raise the level of lacrosse here in Utah."
» Drew Searl, who coached lacrosse at Judge from 2000-2007, created the East meets West lacrosse camp in 2001 to expose Utah lacrosse players to coaches from the East Coast.
» The camp has steadily grown over the years and this season, had 107 participants ranging from ages 7 to 18.
» Searl brings in former and current Major League Lacrosse players to coach the camp.