Tournament Master
Takes On the Fall

By Nelson Coffin

On the weekend before Thanksgiving (Nov. 22-23) in Baltimore, college coaches can feast on what organizer Jim Huelskamp thinks will become one of the premiere recruiting events in the country at the Toyota Fall Face Off 2003 Boys High School Lacrosse Showcase. Huelskamp should know, seeing as how he's used to success when it comes to planting a tournament seed that blossoms under his magic touch. That's exactly what happened to the Ocean City Lacrosse Classic, a staple of summertime lacrosse in Maryland since Huelskamp founded the event a decade ago with eight teams.

Last August, 32 men's and women's teams were in Ocean City. And that's not counting a dozen squads in the masters' and 10 in the grandmasters' brackets. As it turned out, OC has been more than OK with Huelskamp. Maybe that's because Sports Illustrated took note of the proceedings in its Sept 1 issue and credited Huelskamp for being the OC Classic originator. His 15 minutes of national fame comes from about 20 lines in the essay, "Game of their Life," by Kostya Kennedy. Huelskamp is quoted and profiled in the magazine many believe to be the publication of record in the U.S. when it comes to athletics and athletes.

The SI Article

The former Salisbury State midfielder still can't get over his good fortune. "I still can't read it," said Huelskamp, owner of a placement firm called who credits Rob Sartorio with doing the behind-the-scenes work for the OC Classic. "It's just so awesome. I just go nuts when I think about it." Youthful enthusiasm is pure Huelskamp, who is 41 going on 21. He's a bolt of energy with a ton of resolve. Couple that with a background in the sport that includes years of professional experience with the Baltimore Thunder, Pittsburgh Bulls and the Washington Wave in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League and you've got yourself a natural born promoter of the sport he loves. And, of course, the gift of gab doesn't hurt. Huelskamp can talk his way past a double-team in the business world far better than most stars can pull off a split-dodge on the field. For one thing, he has to. These tournaments can suck up a lot of red ink if they're not run properly and nobody knows that better than "Huelsy."

Baltimore's Patterson Park

When it came time to start the OC Classic, Huelskamp made sure word of mouth, mostly his, was his main source of advertising. "I had to talk a lot around town to get the buzz going," said Huelskamp, who played at Centennial High in Columbia, Md. before going off to the Eastern Shore. "I had to sell these guys that they didn't need to go to Vail to play in a summer tournament. We were looking for the average guy who could afford to go to the beach but not all the way out to Colorado." It wasn't long before Huelskamp knew he had a hit on his hands. "People were pumped up," he said. "It was overwhelming. I used all of my connections from playing club ball, and guys like (University of Maryland Coach) Dave Cottle helped, too."

Huelskamp and his wife Natalie

Does Huelskamp feel that the Toyota Fall Face Off 2003 could become the next OC Classic? "We've already got teams from Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina and even the Korean U-19 team lined up," Huelskamp said, promising to have at least 24 teams - and as many as 32 - at the event that boasts five playing fields in Baltimore's Patterson Park. "There's going to be more competition in the short fall season than there is for OC, but at the same time, there are more players, too," he added. "If I were playing today, I'd try to get in on all three [fall high school tournaments in Baltimore]." Huelskamp alludes to high school tournaments hosted by McDonogh School and St. Paul's School that will precede Huelskamp's event. He's hardly afraid of competition. He'll most likely attend those other tournaments too and maybe even recruit another team or two for the classic.

Huelskamp still plays summer ball for Baltimore powerhouse Lax World

The Fall Face Off 2003 will be a win-win for everybody, Huelskamp and his partner, McDaniel Coach Jim Townsend feel. Coaches will be able to look in a program and get vital information on each player. After the games, a website will have up-to-date stats and scores. And players will have plenty of opportunities to get after it and there's even a big blowout party hosted by E-Lacrosse's Darla "Sparky" Burns on the 22nd at the American Can Company for the coaches and fans over 21. "Some teams are coming as a school and some are coming as a club (team)," said Huelskamp. "It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that the kids are going to get six strong runs before the winter break so they know what they're going to have to work on."

Huelsey at Salisbury a long time ago

Huelsy knows all about work. His Baltimore Lax Classic tournament was rained out and cancelled last summer after weeks of heavy rains in Baltimore. A week later the weather cleared up Jim pulled together the whole thing to go off the following weekend instead. The event went without a hitch. "Huelsy was just determined to make it happen. He was relentless and just got people pumped up again." Says Jim Townsend, "We must have changed the schedule five times that week as he brought teams back in". It was no easy task even for Huelskamp, who's friends call him "a ten man ride". But it was all fun for a guy who loves every minute of his lacrosse life. Like the title of the SI piece, it's the game of their life. Jim Huelskamp just wants everybody to live it to the fullest.

October 21, 2003


Party With E-Lacrosse's Darla (Sparky) Burns on November 22 in Baltimore - as she hosts the Charm City Lax Classic Awards Party. The spot will be the American Can Company in Canton. The address is 2400 Boston St zip 21224, Baltimore, MD. Saturday, November 22, 8:00 pm. All you can drink Coor's products for $10.00. Must be 21 years of age to attend. See ya then! Be ready to keep pace with Sparky! Show at the door or get officially invited