Ocean City was among eight South Jersey towns that had teams in the Beach Blast lacrosse tournament. (Photos by Andrew Fasy)


The Ocean City Jr Raiders Lacrosse program hosted the second annual Beach Blast tournament on Saturday at the Tennessee Avenue Sports Complex.

The Tennessee Avenue Sports Complex consists of two larger fields: one grass and one featuring new artificial turf installed by the city this year.

The fields are designed to be used for lacrosse, field hockey and soccer. There are also bathroom facilities, a gazebo and ample parking. The gazebo served as the snack stand during the tournament, which was operated by the 7th and 8th grade Jr Raiders Lacrosse girls team, led by Coach Damon Bready.

The Ocean City Jr Raiders Lacrosse program is in only its second season, started by local resident Laura Wheeler in 2023.

“I think a lot of kids like to be part of a team based in their hometown and to play with their friends. I wanted to give all of the kids in Ocean City that opportunity,” Wheeler said.

Tournament trophies are displayed on a table.

Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in America. There are over 70 players, boys and girls, playing for the Jr Raiders.

The Jr Raiders lacrosse program also offers lacrosse camp during the summer in Ocean City for boys ages 5 to 13. More information on the camp can be found on Ocean City’s website under the “Recreation” tab and then go to “Summer Programs.”

A total of 19 teams participated in the Beach Blast from eight municipalities around South Jersey. Host Ocean City welcomed teams from Cherry Hill, Medford, Cinnaminson, Washington Township, Clearview, Monroe Township and Brick Township.

The tournament featured four separate divisions; 1st & 2nd grade; 3rd & 4th grade, 5th & 6th grade, and 7th & 8th grade.

The Jr Raiders coaches this year include Kevin Connolly and Laura Wheeler (3rd & 4th); Keith Rattray & William Will (5th & 6th); and Steve Hartsock and Laura Wheeler (7th & 8th).

The Ocean City Jr Raiders Lacrosse program is in only its second season, started by local resident Laura Wheeler in 2023.

A total of 28 games were played during the all-day event. Each division winner received a team trophy, and bragging rights as the Tournament Champions.

The winners were:

1st & 2nd grade: Medford

3rd & 4th grade: Clearview (by virtue of a tiebreaker with Ocean City)

5th & 6th grade: Washington Township

7th & 8th grade: Cinnaminson (by virtue of a last-second goal over Ocean City)

“The tournament was a great experience for all the teams and families, and also a great way to showcase Ocean City,” Coach Steve Hartsock said. “The tournament should continue to build, just as the Jr Raiders Lacrosse program continues to grow.”

All of the teams are taking advantage of the tournament being held in “America’s Greatest Family Resort” by purchasing wristbands through the tournament host, which will allow players and their families three hours of rides at Playland’s Castaway Cove, and pizza at Prep’s Pizzeria on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

“The city of Ocean City has been so generous by allowing us to play on these amazing facilities, and it is such a unique location with the beach and the Boardwalk,” Wheeler said. “We hope by having families book hotel rooms this weekend, eating in our restaurants, shopping, and including the Boardwalk experience in our tournament, that we have shown our gratitude and have been good community partners.  We would like this eventually to be a true ‘Stay to Play’ event.”

It’s all smiles at the tournament snack bar.