Over the course of the next week, York County residents should expect to see a large increase in out-of-towners venturing into the area.
Beginning Wednesday, York will play host to the Keystone State Games, an annual competition that pits thousands of athletes against each other in dozens of sports. The event will conclude on Sunday, Aug. 2. York College is the presenting sponsor.
Even though it's listed that the Keystone State Games don't officially begin until Wednesday, some events have already started — and finished.
On Monday, the tennis tournament began at Central York High School and will conclude on Wednesday. This past weekend, the boys' lacrosse tournament was contested in State College, with the York County team taking home the scholastic gold for the first time ever.
This will be the first time since 2010 that York County is hosting the games and it'll do so over the next three summers through 2017. As the days rapidly count down until Wednesday's official opening day, there's a growing sense of anticipation.
"There's no question there's a level of excitement that we're getting through phone calls and emails and community support, especially with a lot of the leadership that we work with in York County and the booster clubs helping us out," Keystone State Games executive director James Costello said. "So, it looks like it is going to be a very successful first year in York."
Events and athletes: The Keystone State Games will obviously hold tournaments in everyday sporting events, such as ice hockey, baseball, softball, basketball and field hockey. But, what will make this year interesting for athletes and spectators are the recreational games that will be included. Games such as bocce, darts, pickleball, horseshoes and badminton are all part of the events schedule for the week.
"This year is a unique year for our Keystone Games because we've added a variety of recreational activities and sports that we haven't added in the past," Costello said. "These are sports that we designed to be more community-based."
For the most part, athletes competing in the games will be of high school age, from 14-18, but that doesn't mean there won't be some competitors younger and older than that. In some events, such as wrestling, age groups start as young as 7 and under. At the other end of the spectrum, with the addition of many recreational activities, spectators will see athletes as old as 90 competing in the games, according to Costello.
Economic impact: The five-day event is also expected to generate a pretty nice chunk of change for York County, as well.
With athletes and families traveling to the area from all over the state, as well as from New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland and as far away as Michigan, tourism numbers are expected to be high. Because of that, the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau is estimating that the games could generate roughly $10.2 million in economic benefits for the county.
York County team brings home gold: On Sunday, the York County scholastic lacrosse team defeated the Delaware County team, 6-5, in overtime to capture the area's first-ever gold medal in the Keystone State Games lacrosse event.
After coming up short in the gold medal game from 2011-13 and claiming silver, and then taking a step back last year with a bronze medal, the York County team finally broke through this past weekend at the tournament held in State College.
"It's a huge step for York County," Coach Rodney Tamblin said. "We've always been looked at as, 'York County doesn't have good lacrosse players or programs,' but it shows that we have some kids that can play and play really well."
Tamblin, who's the head coach of the West York High School boys' varsity team in the spring, has been part of the York County team coaching staff for the past five years.
The team consisted of players that all played on their high school teams this past year and underwent evaluations in order to make the team. After two tryouts were held, 24 players were selected to the team. Once the games began, York County was one of 10 squads competing in the Keystone State Games in the high school division of the lacrosse tournament.
After working its way through the group stage of the competition, the York County team made it to the knockout stage, defeating Blue Mountain, 10-4, to advance to the gold medal game.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker