For years now, lacrosse has been the fastest-growing sport in the country, and there are plenty of statistics to back those claims up.
There has undoubtedly been a major uptick in talent in the boys and girls games in the immediate Charlotte area over the past decade alone. And the once very wide gap in talent seems to be closing between most area high school teams in Mecklenburg and Union counties.
A lot of that is due to the overall growth of the sport, but locally a lot of that credit goes to Ryan Flanagan, who started Team 24/7 Lacrosse in 2010. He has brought his expertise and passion for coaching to the area ever since.
Flanagan was a high school all-American and Under Armor All-American in New York, where his West Islip High School team was ranked No.1 in the nation.
At the University of North Carolina, Flanagan was named the Schmeisser Memorial Cup co-winner as the nation’s top defenseman and was a first-team collegiate all-American.
As a professional, Flanagan was a Major League Lacrosse All-Star and one of the league’s top defensemen annually during his career.
When he hung up his stick for good, Flanagan began Team 24/7 with a vision in mind.
First, he wanted to draw people into the sport and also create an environment where kids can flourish.
“(Lacrosse has) all of the combinations of the different sports and the speed of the game. If you see it, you almost fall in love with it right away,” he said. “I knew I always wanted to be involved in lacrosse and I wanted to see the game grow. I thought the opportunity to coach young kids and grow the game was possible by starting our club program.”
Team 24/7 Lacrosse is a full-service organization with private lessons, impact training, one-on-one instruction, a developmental academy and summer academy where school-aged children can further develop their games.
“I think one of our goals at Team 24/7 Lacrosse is really focused on the fundamentals and to develop every player,” Flanagan said. “Our goal is always to raise the level of lacrosse across Charlotte. Everybody can play.”
To assure that, Team 24/7 Lacrosse has three summer camp sessions for boys and girls in grades kindergarten through the eighth grade.
The camps are designed to promote Flanagan’s mission statement at Team 24/7, which reads in part, “Whether you were born with a stick in your hand or are new to the sport, our top-level staff will show you how to perfect your game.”
To do so, Team 24/7 camps offer a 10:1 camper-to-coach ratio, which is much lower than in most summer settings and especially great for skill development and individual stick work. Their summer select coaches offer some of the best instruction around, with many already working in high school or amateur lacrosse.
Campers will be grouped by size and ability to provide a level playing field where they can grow and improve their games.
There will be plenty of gear handed out. Campers will play games and receive plenty of hands-on instruction. Most important to Flanagan, though, campers will have fun and learn about the game in a unique way.
Each day will consist of lessons that include inspiring messages not necessarily associated with the sport. There is ground ball instruction, stick work, shooting stations, controlled scrimmages and each day closes with competition time.
“If you’re a parent considering lacrosse, I really encourage you to get out there and give it a shot,” Flanagan said. “When you get to the field and see the coaches and see the energy we have at all of our events, I think it is something really special.”
Want to go?
The camp sessions are held at William R. Davie Park, located at 4635 Pineville-Matthews Road, Pineville. Sessions run from June 10 to 13; June 24 to 27; and July 8 to 11. Camps cost $225 if registered before May 1, and $250 thereafter. Campers in K-3 need just a stick, while those in grades 4-8 need to bring a stick, helmet, gloves, arm pads, shoulder pads and cleats. To register or for more information, visit www.team247lax.com or email Info@Team 247Lax.com.