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The history of the Tahoe Dawgs is directly linked to the inception of the Lake Tahoe Lacrosse Tournament which was founded in 1991 by Carl Steiner, a lacrosse coach, official, and administrator from San Francisco, CA. 

1991-1997 – Tourney Growth and Birth of the Dawgs

The first “Tahoe” tournament consisted of a gathering of four teams in July 1991 who played in a two-day event held at National Park in Tahoe Vista, CA.

In 1994, the tournament moved from Tahoe Vista, CA to Incline Village, NV and saw an increase in participation with 20 teams competing in multiple games over two days. 1994 marked the official birth of the Tahoe Dawgs team named after a local sponsor, the Naughty Dawg (a bar, of course), formerly located in Tahoe City, CA.

In 1995, Rob Curtis and the Lake Tahoe Brewing Company became the tournament’s official “major” sponsor… not so much financially but in the form of contributing beer and hosting welcome parties.

1997 was an exciting year for the Tahoe Tournament. First, the tournament expanded to include a women’s open division. Then, during tournament play participants and fans received the distinction of witnessing a helicopter carrying former President Clinton and Vice President Gore land on the fields. The tourney fields were chosen as a secure arrival location for the first Lake Tahoe Summit. Though it interrupted game play, the Summit was an important environmental event that highlighted the urgency of protecting Lake Tahoe as it addressed the alarming rate of decreasing water clarity. Teams affected by the landing were offered the opportunity to continue games on the fairway of the Championship Golf Course located down the street.

Many stories were born that weekend, so here’s one of them: The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office aided in security at the event and while journeying into the woods to relieve himself, an unnamed lacrosse player was surprised when a bush stood up and advised him to find another location. Yes, the bush was a camouflaged sheriff with a shotgun. 1997 was also the year that tournament director Carl Steiner handed over the reins of the tournament to long time co-director, Curt Wegener. Curt has been the tournament director every year since then. The Tahoe Dawgs had their best showing in the tournament that year losing to San Francisco in the finals.

After being part of a great event in 1997, Curt was hopeful that the 1998 tourney would run as smoothly if not better. That was not the case. IVGID (Incline Village General Improvement District), who rents the field space for the tournament, decided to refurbish the Village Green fields. Tournament hosts reluctantly moved the tournament to Incline High School. This was the last year of the two-day tournament format as the three-day format attracted talented teams from a greater geographical area. This change was largely due to a team from Chicago stating it was a long way to go for a two-day tournament.

1998-2008 – Keepin’ the Beat

From 1998 to 2008 the men’s and women’s open division tournament format remained much the same with some ebb and flow and new teams participating every year. Over the years the tournament enjoyed participation by club teams based in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, St. Louis, Chicago, and a variety of East Coast

locales in addition to players who have played professionally, nationally, and internationally.

2009-2013 – Expansion and Partnership

In 2009, the Tahoe Tournament staff expanded their efforts to include a U-19 boys division for the first time in tournament history. This section of the tournament hosted a number of select teams from western states and was held the weekend before (or after) the Annual Lake Tahoe Open Division Tournament. To support the tournament logistics, the local non-profit organization, the Tahoe Truckee Lacrosse Association (TTLA; now High Sierra Lacrosse Foundation) supported and staffed this event.

In 2010, the men’s open division expanded from 16 to 24 teams. The expansion had been on the back burner for years, but with increased registration and deposit submissions the tournament director, Curt Wegener, was looking to get teams off the waiting list and on to the field. The additional field space is located at Incline High School (IHS) 1.2 miles north of the Village Green Fields and games at both locations run consecutively. This expansion was also supported by the TTLA/High Sierra Lacrosse Foundation.

In 2011, the men’s open division expanded from 24 to 28 teams. This second expansion in as many years was possible because, once again, deposit submissions exceeded last year’s 24 team cut-off Field space was already secured so it was a no-brainer and the event expanded at all levels (men’s open, women’s open, and boys U-19) again in 2012. Specifically, the men’s tourney expanded from 28 to 32 teams. Continuing the trend, 2013 secured 32 teams in the men’s open tournament and the squads were organized into 8 groups of 4 teams each. Three HS division had 12 teams organized into 4 groups of 3 teams each. 

2014-2019 – Getting Long in the Teeth (Canines)

As time rolled on, so did the collective age of tournament participants. Because of the surging interest in the sport, retention of amazing players and clubs year after year, and available field space, the men’s division was able to expand to add a Masters-level (30+) in July 2014. We will always be thankful to all the Dawgs and the players from Palo Alto, Clif Bar, Central CA (Fresno), and O Club Teams for helping get this division off the ground. 

2015 saw the same turnout with 32 Open division teams and a doubling of the Masters division going from 5 teams to 10. 2016 had the same Open draw, but Masters scaled back to 6 teams. In 2017, the tournament saw 34 Open Teams and 7 Masters Teams.  

2018 continued to see steady increases in participation and, locally, interest for the Dawgs increased allowing for the formation of three Dawgs Teams: Masters, Open A, and Open B. 2018 also saw 43 men’s teams (7 masters, 24 Open A, and 12 Open B teams) and 12 women’s teams participate over the four-day event. This remains one of the largest adult tournament turnouts ever in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  

2019 was a slight drop compared to the 2018 numbers, but still saw 41 men’s teams (8 masters, 17 Open A, and 16 Open B teams) and 12 women’s teams. 2019 also marked an excellent year for the Dawgs Open team performance – the Open A team went 4-1 losing in the event finals after a series of very strong performances. 

2020 – A Year Lost

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Annual Lake Tahoe Lacrosse Tournament was cancelled for the first time since 1991. 

2021-2024 – Return to “Normal”

2021 featured an exciting return to the shores of Lake Tahoe at the Village Green and Incline high School fields where 35 Teams (8 Masters and 27 Open) teams got back after it. The Dawgs fielded three teams, two Open and one Masters and represented well. Of note, the Masters team went 4-1, beating O Club in pool play and ultimately losing in the Finals.  

2022 saw a slight increase in participating teams with 37 teams partaking in the action – The Tahoe Dawgs and Palo Alto played the first “Super Masters” game in tournament history with the Old Dawgs coming out on top 8-3. 

2023 was essentially a repeat of 2022 with game play at Village Green and Tahoe Vista. The Dawgs Super Masters were once again victorious in their only game of the tournament – still working to grow the Super Masters (40+) component of the event. 

The 2024 Annual Lake Tahoe Lacrosse Tournament will take place July 18-21, 2024. This year marks the 30thanniversary of the Dawgs playing at the Tahoe Tourney. 

Thanks to all past and future participants for being a part of the continued growth of the tournament. Tahoe Tournament and Tahoe Dawgs history provided by Curt Wegener and Al Garner.


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