Three days before 6,126 fans packed historic Selby Stadium for the Ohio Machine’s home opener, more than 250 people crowded the newly renovated Columbus Commons to play the sport, many for the first time, and attempt to break a world record.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16, the Ohio Machine, along with 200Columbus, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission (GCSC) and Experience Columbus, hosted the Ohio Machine “Lacrosse Launch Party.” The event featured many activities and participants, along with four local food trucks including Cheesy Truck, Hungry Monkey, Mikey’s Late Night Slice and Tatoheads. The event also had live music by Earwig, a 200Columbus Band Contest Finalist, and the attempt to set the world record for the world’s largest lacrosse game.
According to the GCSC Director of Marketing and Communications Bruce Wimbish, the event was a successful part of the city’s Bicentennial Celebration. “For the Bicentennial we had each major sports team do something to help Columbus celebrate being 200 years old,” said Wimbish. “The Machine event not only celebrated the Bicentennial, but also helped bring more awareness to the Machine for the people who did not know that the Machine was the new professional team in town.”
The launch party was also a chance for fans to meet some of the team’s players for the first time. Some of the Machine players attending the event were Machine attackmen Chazz Woodson and Mario Ventiquattro, midfielders Eric O’Brien and Connor Martin, defensemen Brian Yontz and Brett Hughes and goalie Stefan Schroder.
For O’Brien, the event was a great way to help grow the game in a new market. “It was fun having all of the different age groups and organizations involved,” said O’Brien. “We all enjoyed meeting the different people and to see the growth of the game in the form of the support that day.”
Prior to the game, a short program took place with special guests Machine In-Game Host Mike Todd, City of Columbus Council Member Zach Klein, 200Columbus Bicentennial Program Manager Jamie Green and Ohio Machine President and General Manager John Algie.
Once the speaking was over….the game was on! The game began with everyone from Machine players to moms with their children to Columbus Crew’s Frankie Hejduk to GCSC employees matching up on separate sides of the field in either red or blue, hoping to make their mark in the world record books.
Even GCSC’s own Bruce Wimbish took part in the game and saw the long term benefits of the event. “I never played or handled a stick before, but I was hooked as soon as I got that lacrosse stick in my hand,” said Wimbish. “I can see why it’s the fastest growing sport in the county and I am excited about the future of the sport in Ohio.”
More than 100 participants from all walks of life took part in the game with even more watching on that day, which helped the Machine set the pace for its inaugural season and for the future of lacrosse in Ohio to be a bright one.