Bitter Lacrosse Oceana Lax Festival coming to Santa Barbara Jan. 25-26

Bitter Lacrosse Oceana Lax Festival 2014

Bitter Lacrosse is hosting its inaugural Oceana Lax Festival at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club this Jan. 25-26. With its Endless Summer-inspired tagline, “in search of the perfect game,” Bitter Lacrosse’s first California event will host six boys divisions, from fourth grade through high school, and three girls divisions, from seventh grade through high school.

Bitter Lacrosse events, such as Bitter Lacrosse camps and tournaments like the Stowe Lax Festival and Pro-Am Mountain Jam, are known for being “LAXACATIONS” that feature aspects other than lacrosse. While this often means mountain hikes and other outdoor activities that take advantage of Bitter Lacrosse event locations, the Bitter Lacrosse team is particularly excited about the proximity to the beach at the Oceana Lax Festival. This will allow participants to take part in various activities including kayaking, surfing, island tours and more.

As a bonus to all the possible actitvites and festival competition itself, of which all games will be live streamed and archived on YouTube, collegiate women’s programs from UC Santa Barbara and Chapman will play each other at the festival to showcase the next level of the women’s game to younger female participants.

Bitter Lacrosse Oceana Lax Festival at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club
The Oceana Lax Festival will be held at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (photo from @bitterlacrosse)

We had a chance to ask Bitter Lacrosse co-founder and LXM PRO Billy Bitter a few questions about SoCal’s newest lacrosse tournament:

Why did Bitter Lacrosse decide to host a tournament in Southern California?

As we were looking to expand our events to new destination locations in new regions, we were deciding between progressing westward with a Midwest event and then a West Coast event or jumping to the West Coast first and then working our way back. We decided to jump to the West Coast for several reasons. First, we wanted the next event to take place in the winter months, which would not be possible in the Midwest. Second, we have a lot of strong connections on the West Coast. Lastly, we found a venue that met all of our requirements as far as ease of access, central location, destination appeal for the family and infrastructure.

With its heavy West Coast influence, has playing on the LXM PRO tour prompted you to add a Western tournament? Will any other LXM PROs be making an appearance at the Festival?

I have developed a lot of strong relationships in the West Coast lacrosse community by playing LXM PRO. This was a factor in the decision process to locate our next event on the West Coast. Other LXM PRO players will be coaching teams and other players will be helping run the event.

What makes Santa Barbara the ideal spot for the Oceana Lax Festival?

Santa Barbara is appealing for many reasons. The location has national recognition. Additionally, it is easily accessible to both Southern and Northern California teams. More specifically, the location of our venue is easily accessible off of the Pacific Coast Highway and families can access the beach a half mile down the road. There are not many places where 60-plus teams can play in one spot (overlooking the Pacific Ocean) that happens to be a half mile away from a surf shop where you can rent a board and go surfing.

Billy Bitter, UNC Lacrosse, Bitter Lacrosse
Billy during his UNC days pictured with his father, who serves as one of Bitter Lacrosse’s directors.

What makes Bitter Lacrosse tournaments different from other lacrosse tournaments?

Value, location, family. If you look at our events and where they are located, it becomes clear that we are focused on the total tournament experience. We want the players and families to enjoy themselves as much off the field as they do on the field. This begins with affordability. We are committed to keeping our events as affordable as possible.

What’re you looking forward to most about this tournament?

We have a lot programs return year after year at our tournaments in Stowe and Charleston. The fact that the families want to come back year after year means a lot to us. In Santa Barbara, this is our first event, and we will be hosting all the teams attending for the first time. I am excited to meet and share the experience with a new group of families.

As of Jan. 14th, two team spots remained available for both boys and girls, as well as six free-agent boys spots. To register, check out the event website’s pages for boys and girls.