The John Mack Southern Tier Shootout will feature nearly 100 lacrosse teams this weekend at the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex, a number that puts a smile on tournament organizer Rob Mack’s face.
As well as showcasing lacrosse teams of all ages from the northeast United States and parts of Canada, the main purpose of the event comes down to saving lives.
John Mack was a junior at Binghamton High School when he went into cardiac arrest after being stick-checked in the chest during a BC Lacrosse Club game at the Community Sportsplex in the Town of Union. It took 19 minutes to get a defibulators to the site, and Mack died two days later on Nov. 30, 2006, at the age of 17.
While no one will ever know if a defibulators could have saved his life, having one would have increased his chances of survival. The goal of the tournament is to raise money to put defibulators on site for lacrosse clubs and nonprofit organizations. The tournament as well as the John Mack foundation have helped purchase about 75 defibulators over the past six years.
“It’s a good cause,” said Rob Mack, John’s uncle who runs the event with John’s father, Jim. “We tend to get an awful lot of teams coming down just to support the cause, and many of the teams have been the benefactors of AED units because we try to donate to sports clubs first, and then we go out to the community and do nonprofit organizations and others.”
The tournament features third- and fourth-grade teams through high school. There is also a grand masters bracket. Mack said 65 of the teams will be coming from out of town.
The Sports Complex’s dome will be split into five 200 feet-by-95 feet fields. Games are 40 minutes long and are 8-on-8 instead of the traditional 10-on-10 becuase of the smaller fields.
“It’s a nice time for coaches to get their teams together and see what they got,” Mack said. “We keep the aggression level down a bit because we don’t want people getting hurt. We referee it pretty tight, and the coaches are OK with that.”
Mack said because of the recent snow taking up parking spots and the size of the dome, the event is not built to handle the general public this year.
“We don’t like doing this but if the public came we just wouldn’t have the space for teams coming up,” Mack said. “It’s too bad because it’s a great thing to watch, but with parents, siblings and especially the snow, it’s going to be crazy.”