A prestigious youth lacrosse tournament has set its sights on Culpeper County for the next phase in its growth and development.
The Virginia State Cup, a two-day event that welcomes lacrosse clubs and teams from several age groups across the Mid-Atlantic region, will be coming to the Culpeper Sports Complex on June 6 and 7.
The tournament, which came to fruition in 2017 thanks to a shared vision and collaborative effort from the University of Virginia’s men’s lacrosse coaching staff and youth coaches from across Central Virginia, was held at UVA’s sports complex for the past three years. However, the increasing number of teams and clubs participating in the event necessitated the move to a larger facility with more playing fields available.
“This is absolutely huge for Culpeper County on multiple fronts,” said Culpeper County Parks and Recreation director Andrew Hardy, who’s worked closely with UVA assistant coach Brian Wilberger to bring the tournament to town. “On top of attracting some of the top youth lacrosse teams and clubs from Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, this event will have a big economic impact on the county in the form of lodging, dining and shopping from all the tourists it will attract.”
After the event grew to more than 50 participating teams and clubs from eight different age groups last year, Wilberger, the tournament’s director, faced a dilemma: either find a larger venue to accommodate it, or bite the bullet and reduce the number of teams to fit the fields at UVA.
“After searching Charlottesville and Albemarle for fields to handle the tournament, we discovered it could be held at multiple schools and public parks, but not in one central facility,” Wilberger said.
The beginning of the event’s relocation from the Charlottesville area to Culpeper came about after a coincidental pit stop by Wilberger and fellow UVA assistant Kip Turner. While traveling up U.S. Route 29 on their way to an event in Philadelphia last August, the pair stopped off at the Legacy Market near Eastern View High School. Upon getting off of 29, they noticed a sign for the Culpeper Sports Complex.
“We decided to take a quick drive by the [complex],” Wilberger said. “At that point, we knew it could be the answer we’d been looking for.”
Two emails and a phone call between Wilberger and Hardy shortly thereafter got the ball rolling, and an official site visit by Wilberger and the tournament’s other organizers sealed the deal.
“It really was a very simple process,” Hardy said. “I consider us very fortunate to have the opportunity to bring this amazing event to Culpeper, and we hope to host it beyond this year as well.”
Landing the event was the first big step for Hardy, who took over as the new parks and rec director on Sept. 15 after spending 13 years working for Dinwiddie County.
“I’m working on a lot of different projects that hopefully I will be able to share with the community very soon,” he said. “My time here has been great so far--I’ve met so many good people who have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.”