Lacrosse clinic draws nearly 200 young athletes to Fort Jackson
March 1, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Lacrosse is a relatively new sport in the Columbia area, but one gaining a lot of attention in recent months.
Last weekend, Fort Jackson hosted a regional lacrosse clinic for young athletes. Sunday's event drew more than 170 athletes, both boys and girls, ages 9 to 18, said Erin Hanson, a community marketing manager for Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the sponsors of Sunday's event.
The athletes represented schools from around Columbia, such as A.C. Flora High School, Dutch Fork High School, Irmo High School, Spring Valley High School, Irmo Middle School, Chapin Middle School and others.
"I think it's a pretty unique occurrence when kids of all ages, both boys and girls, are all on the same field," Hanson said. "Thank goodness for the weather. We got lucky, and Darby Field is such a beautiful field. A lot of things were working in our favor."
Among those, she said, was having a professional lacrosse team within driving distance of Fort Jackson. Ryan Flanagan and Casey Cittandino of the Charlotte Hounds lacrosse team demonstrated their skills during Sunday's event. Coaches from Belmont Abbey, Queens University of Charlotte, and Wingate University were also in attendance.
"They were hoping for 150 athletes to attend, and it shows the passion for the sport that all the coaches were able to mobilize," Hanson said.
"The exiting thing is that it's a sport that's new to the area," Hanson said. "It's very popular in the North, and it's growing in South Carolina."
"Lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America," said Capt. J. R. Wagner, operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment on Fort Jackson. "Native American tribes would play this game in order to train and get some of the qualities they would need for fighting and combat later."
Tribes would also use lacrosse competitions to solve disputes both inside and outside of the tribe, he said. It was a useful tool that helped avoid violence and open warfare.
"Through sports and coaching, we're trying to make our drill sergeants better trainers," Wagner said. "We figured inviting these professional lacrosse players to Fort Jackson would allow our drill sergeants to see how people coach across different ages and different genders."
The event was also a useful tool for demonstrating to the community the advantages of having an Army post nearby.
"Lt. Col. J.C. Glick (commander of the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment) is the one who wanted to put all of this together," Wagner said, "so that Fort Jackson can maintain its community image. It also makes Fort Jackson a training center that provides something for its local community."