Annapolis Indoor Lacrosse League A Long-Running Tradition for Mid-Atlantic High School Players
ANNPOLIS, Md. — The Annapolis Indoor League, now in its ninth season, has firmly established itself as a winter tradition in the Mid-Atlantic region, one that is helping local players get reps thanks to talented competition and a format that is spreading to other 3d Lacrosse regions.
Each weekend, from December 3 to February 11, the Annapolis Area Christian School’s Kilby Fieldhouse is transformed into a turnstile of high-velocity, hard-nosed lacrosse action as more than thirty local squads battle in a seven-on-seven style format, featuring box-lacrosse sized nets and goalies using full blockers and leg pads. Games run from morning to night as the team’s go throughout the afternoon.
“This is a hybrid format that we evolved to and we’re pretty confident that it’s a big part of the draw,” said 3d Mid-Atlantic director Spencer Ford, the league’s administrator who oversees the action each week.
“And because of increasing interest and thanks to the right infrastructure and support in place from 3d, it’s pretty clear that this league has had a major impact on lacrosse here in the Mid-Atlantic. This has become the winter home for more than 500 players each winter.”
Founded in 2008 by former UMBC star Zack Burke, the league began with more than 20 teams and has grown to now feature more than 30 local squads competing each weekend. Nineteen varsity teams and 12 junior varsity teams comprise the league in its ninth season.
Scott Morrison, the head coach at DeMatha Catholic School in Hyattsville, credits the league for its consistency in delivering a valuable experience for the players involved.
“Zack and Spencer have done a tremendous job over the years with 3d’s Annapolis Indoor Lacrosse League,” Morrison said.
“Having entered a minimum of three teams for the last eight years has allowed our kids to work together as a unit while improving their stick skills tremendously. The game of field lacrosse continues to evolve, where box stick skills are greatly needed and those kids that can play in tight spaces naturally thrive when they get outside. The referees the league employs are top notch and keep the games playing at a very fast pace while not allowing the kids to get out of hand from a physicality standpoint.”
Ford, a star at Towson before moving on to a record-setting Major League Lacrosse career, pointed out that some of the top teams in the area now put together teams to compete in the AILL. This year’s participating teams represent some of the areas best programs, including Annapolis, Archbishop Spalding, Arundel, Broadneck, Calverton, DeMatha, Howard, Severna Park, Severn School, St. Mary’s and St. Mary’s Ryken.
“You can show up to the arena on a Saturday while the league is running and watch highly entertaining lacrosse all day long,” said Ford, who also serves as the general manager and assistant coach for MLL’s Atlanta Blaze.
“The kids leave it all on the turf and it becomes a great day with parents rooting hard from the seats and the players honoring the game by playing so hard and so fast. By keeping so many local players this active throughout the winter, they’re not only staying fresh for the spring but they’re truly improving as well.”
The AILL’s format, which features goalies in box gear guarding a four-by-four official box lacrosse net, also includes a 30-second shot clock. Teams field seven runners and one goalie, with each team required to keep two runners back behind half-field.
“This is a unique way of creating a hybrid game scenario and we’re implementing just enough of the box game here to give the league a charge, speed it up and get every player more reps,” Ford said.
The AILL’s format has inspired directors in other 3d Lacrosse regions to implement similar programming. 3d New England recently hosted its first ever New England SEVENS tournament, which used the AILL format for a one-day event. It’s a model that will expand to additional 3d regions in 2017.
“It’s exciting to see this concept growing,” said Burke, the director of 3d San Diego and the head coach at SoCal powerhouse Poway High School.
“I was confident when I left Maryland that the league would be in great hands thanks to Spencer. But to see the league carry on and grow and attract more and more of the top Maryland schools, including MIAA programs, is really impressive. It speaks to the love of the game in the region, but also to a format that really does excite the kids and consistently creates a fast-paced and intense box-like environment that will help elevate skill and game IQ.”
The league will culminate on February 11, when the top eight varsity and junior varsity teams are seeded and play for the AILL championship.
“We have seen that the league’s talent level goes up year – we’re attracting more talented teams and players are clearly getting better and more advanced in their IQ,” Ford said. “We’re proud that we can help be a part of that development and we’re fired up to see what the rest of the year brings, as well as what should be an awesome championship weekend.”
Learn more about the Annapolis Indoor Lacrosse League and other offerings from 3d Mid-Atlantic by visiting 3dLacrosse.com/find-your-market/midatlantic. Follow along with the league each week by following @3dMidAtlantic on Twitter and Instagram.