SOMERS — The Somers Lacrosse Association is having its 37th annual Paul Bowers Memorial Lacrosse Tournament on June 1 and 2. It’s the largest tournament in the area with 148 boys’ and girls’ teams in grades 3-8 participating this year at the Somers Educational Complex on Vision Boulevard.

The Somers Lacrosse Association — a youth lacrosse association — is a nonprofit organization chartered in 1994 with the goal of providing boys and girls in grades K-8 the opportunity to lean and enjoy the game of lacrosse and become part of the lacrosse community.

President Kevin Foye said, “The tournament offers boys and girls in grades 3-8 the opportunity to play competitive lacrosse in a fun and exciting environment.”

He continued, “This is the last tournament in the area right before the playoffs start which gives the kids a chance to play against teams they may not face during the regular season. We have teams from Western Mass., north, central and southern Connecticut. Some teams come from as far as the Connecticut Shoreline and Western New York. It just gives the kids a great atmosphere to be around.”

The tournament was founded in 1987 by Lee Pinney who started lacrosse in the town of Somers at the high school club level. He eventually started varsity programs at Somers High School. Pinney is a pioneer in northern Connecticut when it comes to lacrosse. He was a former player at Cornell University. When he moved back to Somers, Pinney wanted to provide children with an opportunity to play a sport that was an alternative to baseball and began teaching the game.

This tournament is in honor of a young man by the name of Paul Bowers who played for Pinney in the mid-1980s. Bowers died in an automobile accident in 1985 at the age of 17.

“The tournament is based on sportsmanship because Paul was a young man who really loved lacrosse and loved to be around his teammates,” Foye pointed out. “And that was something that Lee wanted to be remembered. There’s a term called honoring the game and playing for the purity of it was something Lee wanted to sustain.”

Foye told Reminder Publishing that the goal of the association is to provide all kids with good instruction, a fun experience and a passion for the game. This creates a high number of registrations with over 200 kids participating in grades K-8 each spring. The association also welcome parents to get involved early with coaching and other volunteer opportunities and is strongly connected with the high school girls’ and boys’ programs. Many of these players enjoy giving back to the younger kids through running clinics and helping at practices, Foye shared.

Somers has a strong lacrosse history. The town has had success in growing the sport and in a large part because of the Paul Bowers Lacrosse Tournament and the messaging behind it.

Assistant Coach Jim Warnock of the Somers High School Boys Lacrosse team said, “We want to continue sharing the game we love in a town that loves and supports lacrosse. It’s a really special day for lacrosse, the town of Somers and the northern Connecticut area.”

Parents who are interested in volunteering can reach out to the Somers Lacrosse Association through its website at somers-lacrosse.org.