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. The first “Tahoe” tournament consisted of a gathering of four teams 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 that has flourished with 6-10 clubs participating annually. 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 reigns 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 come for a two day tournament.
From 1998 to 2009 the men’s and women’s open division tournament format remained much the same with new teams participating every year. Over the years the tournament has 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.
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 hosts a number of select teams from Western states and is held the weekend before (or after) the Annual Lake Tahoe Open Division Tournament. The Tahoe Truckee Lacrosse Association (TTLA) supports and staffs 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. The TTLA has also signed on to staff and support the expansion of the tournament.
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. The TTLA also continued to staff and support the expansion of the tournament.
The 2012 event saw the men’s open, women’s open, and boys U-19 divisions expand again. Specifically, the men’s tourney expanded from 28 to 32 teams. This third expansion is an unquestionable indicator that poco club lacrosse in the west and the reputation of the Tahoe Tourney have grown! 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.