Lacrosse scores big at Smith River Sports Complex
By MARK THOMPSON - Bulletin Sports Editor
This weekend the Smith River Sports Complex played host to the Pomerstone Classic, a tournament featuring some of the top women's college club lacrosse teams in the country.
Eighteen teams from around the country - including six teams ranked in the top 10 of the WCLA national rankings - descended on the SRSC for the tournament. That number was down from 36 total teams after half of them had to back out due to the scheduling change.
The Pomerstone Classic was originally scheduled for the same weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, so tournament director and co-chairman David Pomeroy moved the tournament to this weekend, Friday through today.
He's currently discussing details with the SRSC about returning for another tournament in November - this time with the 36 teams originally planned for.
"We had over 100 teams interested for last weekend's date, so we'll definitely hit the 36 (team) mark," Pomeroy said.
But this weekend's tournament was more than just 18 teams competing and hoping to improve their résumés against some of the top teams in the nation.
In many ways, it was a test of the SRSC and for the SRSC. Pomeroy said the complex was everything he hoped it would be after holding the same tournament last spring at Northeast Park in Gibsonville, N.C.
"We wanted to grow, and this complex was what we wanted, a small-town complex on the east coast that could fit a decent amount of teams that makes it worth their time to travel," Pomeroy said. "We had teams traveling from Utah and around the U.S., spending thousands and thousands of dollars. I wouldn't want a team to come here without a complex like this."
Pomeroy said he's from a small town and likes interacting with local business owners and supporting the local restaurants, as opposed to a big city.
SRSC Director of Marketing Amanda Gray said providing that small-town feel is one of the strengths of the complex and the Martinsville-Henry County area.
"That's a reason why we have a lot of the tournament directors continue to return to the Smith River Sports Complex, because we work so well within our community," Gray said. "They actually go out to our local businesses and support the restaurants, and the restaurants and everyone just gives off such a welcoming vibe that they want to keep returning."
But the tournament isn't just a test of the SRSC, but a test for the complex.
Gray said members of the governing body of U.S. Lacrosse were in attendance - certainly a group that the complex could benefit from by making a good impression.
But making an impression is not anything the SRSC has struggled with, if their partners with countless other weekend tournaments in a variety of sports has been any indication.
"For example, with Michelle Ng, she does Ultimate Frisbee. When we first started with her, she only did one event with us. This year she's already held three tournaments with us," Gray said. "So the retention rate, we're having them come back and booking more events. And just from that one Ultimate Frisbee tournament we had, like I said we got three more from Michelle, but we got two others from word of mouth spreading from her.
"So it's not just the Smith River Sports Complex, it's a whole community involvement, and we're very lucky to have the support within our area."
Gray hopes the Pomerstone Classic, named after Pomeroy and co-chair Mindy Stone, will return in November.
Pomeroy said he was impressed with the area and added that he's a NASCAR fan, making a trip over to see Martinsville Speedway a must.
If the weekend's a success, Pomeroy may be back in time to see some fresh tire marks at Martinsville Speedway following the Goody's Fast Relief 500 on Oct. 27.