July saw our First and Second Lacrosse teams touring the USA and ultimately coming away as the Capital City LAX Festival 2023 Champions!
Thank you to Alice from the Upper Fifth who wrote day-by-day accounts of the teams’ time in America. We hope you enjoy reading all about their fantastic experience.
We all got to the airport excited for the movie marathon ahead, checked in, and bought plenty of chocolate. We mostly managed to stay awake in the hope we would beat the jet lag, and despite the delay due to the lightning we were all buzzing with excitement! Once we landed, we were hit with a wall of humidity and quickly stripped off our Tour merch. We met Thomas who drove us swiftly to the hotel where as soon as we lay down, we were asleep.
We woke at 2pm English time but 9am American, to the most celebrated day of the year, the 4th of July, and made our way downstairs for a very American breakfast where we were offered Diet Coke?! After breakfast we made our way out into Washington to explore some potential lunch options. Asking locals, we were overwhelmed by their kindness and friendliness as they were eager to show us some good local food spots, some people bought baguettes, others pizza, fries, tacos and burgers, which we all ate on the coach on the way to our first game in Baltimore. On the coach we were all captivated by how American it all felt, we saw the Hudson, Yellow school buses, the Washington memorial and even the White House!
Once we arrived at the game, we quickly realised that playing on turf being 10 degrees hotter than grass was not a word of a lie! Gatorade, water and a lot of sun cream were our best friends and we quickly started warming up. Soon the 1sts were on the pitch and battling out for the win, which after 50 minutes of head-to-head was well deserved and exciting! Next the 2nds were on and they similarly put up a great fight only this time the game sadly ended with a loss. We did 3 cheers and were quickly whisked off to 4th of July match tea where the spread was incredible, mac and cheese, burgers, fried chicken, cake pops and more, we got to know some of the opposition and mutually laughed at our respective accents. Finally, we gave them Percy Pigs to try before leaving, which they all loved, and we gladly made our way back to the air conned bus!
Once we arrived at the hotel in Baltimore we showered and were ready to explore, we had Chipotle for dinner on the water’s edge and wandered around the harbour soaking in all the 4th of July celebrations! Once we got back to the hotel we were out like lights!
We started the day off with bagels and waffles in our hotel and then we were soon back on the bus to Washington for some sightseeing. We saw the White House, The Capitol, the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, World War I and II monuments and quickly began to feel like we were being cooked alive by the sun!
We were soon on the road again and on our way to the Pentagon Mall. We ate a well-deserved lunch and mooched around the mall before we got back on the bus to go to some more shops before heading to the high school where our match was taking place.
Once we arrived, we had a tour of Episcopal High School which felt like a movie set! There were insane facilities with a basketball court which really made us live out our High School Musical dreams!
We then played our matches which were well fought, the 1st cinching another win, but more importantly we all made such good friends! Shared Snapchats, shaved ice, laughed a lot and worked out that we will be seeing them again over the weekend at the LAX Festival! Then once again we were back on the coach and back in our beds!
Day 3 started much the same as Day 2, with a delicious breakfast and everyone on the coach by 10am. We made our way to an outlet mall which was absolutely huge, where we had lunch before we headed to an outdoor pool to sunbathe and swim.
After drying off in the sun we were back on the road and on the way to our next match, on the way we saw the Hudson again and some very typical American houses which, being made from wood, looked so like the American houses in the movies. Suddenly we found ourselves outside of a Target and we were all wildly excited by the prospect of experiencing the American fantasy! We ran around like headless chickens picking up as much American candy, Reese’s Pieces, Goldfish, and other essentials such as M&Ms!
Sadly, our time in heaven could not last forever and we were off to rather less air conned experience on the lacrosse pitch. The 2nds played first and put up an incredible fight with 3 successive goals in the first 10 minutes, unfortunately however, we came away with a loss. The 1sts were soon on and the goals came thick and fast and we came away with another glorious win!
After breakfast we packed up our bags and said hello to Six Flags, where despite temporary closure due to thunder and lightning, we managed to brave the elements and raise our adrenaline on the rides. The heat was intense, and we quickly realised that the water park was a better idea so flocked to the lazy river where we tried to catch a tan! Some tested their nerve on the waterslides, The Tornado proving to be the fan favourite!
A Wonder Woman cape was purchased, and “Tour Wonder Woman” awards were born. The cape was awarded to the previous day’s Superhero, and they then had to wear it for the rest of the day!
When our time at six flags came to a close, we hopped back on the bus and made our way to Delaware, stopping for food and snacks along the way. Once we got to the hotel, we were all relieved to be greeted with some very comfy beds and powerful air con, and soon we were fast asleep recharging our batteries for the tournament tomorrow.
The alarms went off at 7am sharp and we were awoken to another sunny day in America. We quickly made our way down to a busy breakfast where other LAX teams matched our weary gaze! Fed and watered, we got our rucksacks ready and set out the door to The Capital City Lacrosse Festival.
We soon arrived and on stepping out of the bus, we were hit by a wall of heat once again. We filled our water bottles, sun creamed all over, and warmed up our skills before our first match. The 1sts won 14-2 and the seconds came away with a regretful 19-3 despite putting up a good fight!
Our second matches of the day went well, with a closer loss for the 2nds and another win for the 1sts. Desola then attempted the 10-yard speed run, smashed the score, and won a Chipotle voucher!
We then got back in the coach to get lunch at Wegmans, a supermarket food heaven, before returning to the hotel. Back at the hotel we enjoyed a dip in the pool before heading out again to the mall for some shopping and dinner. A very successful and fun day in Delaware!
After a good night’s sleep, we headed back to the LAX tournament to be greeted with some well received clouds, especially after the sunburn induced by the previous day, and started warming up. Each team played 2 matches in the morning and played very well. The 1sts progressed to the final – and with the 2nds acting as cheerleaders the 1sts came away with an overall win in the final, ironically over another British team! All finished by lunch, we headed to the same spot as the previous day for some well-earned scran.
On returning to the hotel we napped, showered, and prepared for another round of shopping! After supper in the mall, the teams all congregated in the hotel pool for a celebratory pool party where we thoroughly enjoyed some R and R!
Earlier on in the week an intense game of Assassin was launched where each person randomly chose another person, place and item to kill someone! An example could be Miss Williams, with a bottle of Gatorade in the pool… hence the discreet mandatory nature of said pool party. Despite this however, Miss Williams remained alive and day by day the teachers were killing more of us, much to our dismay – very annoying! The day ended with chatting in the hotel corridor which we seemed to have rented the entirety of, and a good night’s sleep.
We woke up and were soon packing up our rooms once again, this time in anticipation for New York, the city that never sleeps! It was a 3-hour coach ride with a brief intermission at another outlet mall.
Today was also a very special day due to it being the sweet sixteen of one of our teammates! The day was filled with singing happy birthday, American candy, and immense gratitude for the chance to be in New York on such a special day.
Once we arrived in New York we were quickly off the bus and onto the Ferry to Staten Island. The journey was filled by sunny views and the famous New York skyline, we even saw the Statue of Liberty up close! Once off the ferry we wandered back to the coach where our lovely coach driver Kathryn was waiting to take us to Ground Zero.
Ground Zero was immense, breath-taking and induced immediate goosebumps. The sheer size, significance and beauty of the monument really made time slow, and we all felt so grateful to be able to pay our respects. The group then split into two, some went into the 9/11 museum and others went on to Times Square, which was filled with colour and noise felt electric!
After finding supper, we checked into our last hotel of the tour, where we were to be staying for our last night in America.
We woke to another varied breakfast and the prospect of another hot and sunny day in New York! An advance party made their way to the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, where we wandered around soaking in the culture. We then wandered through Central Park to 5th Avenue, where we met the later group, to have our final day of shopping, American food, and excitement.
After enjoying New York bagels, we accumulated plenty of “I <3 New York” merch, and some even squeezed in a trip to the top of The Empire State Building, before we got on the bus to the airport.
There was plenty of time for mooching and stretching our legs before the 7-hour flight! We landed at 11am England time and after collecting our bags, said a sad goodbye and thank you, before parting our separate ways – with American tans, American friends, and plenty of American snacks!
Thank you to all the staff who came on the trip and looked after us so well, to Kathryn and Thomas, our coach drivers, to all the lovely hotel staff, and of course, all the Americans who made us feel so welcome!
Thank you to the members of our Sport Department for organising the trip and encouraging the passionate pursual of Lacrosse at Downe House.