Flying Tigers Win the 2019 Jax Invitational

The Flying Tigers walked into the Jacksonville Invitational huge underdogs and stepped back off the field at the end, lacrosse champions. It was unbelievable to watch in person.

When their bus arrived, they were late to register. It had broken down on the road from Arizona and took hours for a tow truck to arrive. After a local repair shop fixed it, the bus drove through the night (which they’re not supposed to do) to get here just slightly late.

The Flying Tigers stepped off the bus in their crimson red and blue jerseys as the youngest team ever to enter the Jacksonville Lacrosse Invitational at an average age of 13.5. These teenagers competed against teams 2-3 years old who clearly had more experience. But, the crazy part is that it didn’t matter. The Flying Tigers played as a team and that made the difference. Their passing was flawless, their improvisation was on point, and man did they run for their lives.

The game was tied going into half time at 4-4, which was a major crowd shocker. Everyone expected the other team, the Golden Bears, too absolutely obliterate them. But, it just didn’t happen. Speaking with their coach during intermission, he said that they need to step up their game if they want to take home the trophy.

The Flying Tigers stepped onto the field in the 2nd half and ran the show. They were flinging passes to within an inch of where they needed to be. They scored 7 times from inside the 15 yard line! I’ve never seen anything like even at a pro level. It was like they were possessed with talent for a brief time. They played a flawless game and ended with the score of 11-4, undefeated in their season, and on top as the winners.

Congratulations to Coach Klein and the Flying Tigers! You guys rock.

2019 Jacksonville Invitation Lacrosse Tournament Announced

It’s one of the most exciting things young athletes get to do – travel to a different state with their team to play in an event that they earned their way into.  Jacksonville, FL is the host to a number of big events like the Rockville 2018 Concert, Disney On Ice, and more. Now, it will host the largest lacrosse tournament in the country as well.

The 2019 Jacksonville Invitational will take place June 14 – 16 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. This once small camp event has grown over the years into an invite only 150-team tournament, pulling the best high school athletes from across the US to one location for the event.

This year’s event host, Jacksonville Pool Decks has graciously provided hotel accommodations for the entire weekend for all attendees.  Their company does pool deck repair, kool deck installation, and concrete work in the local area. Reservations can be made on their website up until one week before the event.  All stays include 2-night stay, pool and gym access, and continental breakfast.

The event starts at 9:00 AM sharp on June 14th and runs until intermission from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM.  Play then resumes until 5:00 PM.  The games will be standard 80-minute games with 2 referees and standard scoring format.

The top lacrosse player in the country right now, Mason Waters, will attend the event playing for the Albany Wildcats.  He has been sponsored by Albany Pest Control, a New York exterminator, and will be flying in on Thursday night to meet with the commissioner for dinner and press inquiries.  As the top-ranking athlete at the invitational, his team has been given a bye for the first round of competition.  Standard brackets are in effect.

This year should prove to be promising. Reporters are already lining up for early-access passes and setting interview locations and times surrounding the event.  Press releases have already gone out and will continue to fly up to the day of the event.  We’re looking forward to seeing which team has both the skill and grit required to beat out all the others and walk away with the gorgeous Jacksonville Invitational trophy and the $20,000 cash prize, donated to the school of the winning team.  If you’re planning to attend, get your tickets early before they sell out.

Lax West Announces Partnership with Sandstorm Lacrosse Tournament in Palm Desert, CA

April 15th & 16th @ the Empire Polo Club

Lax West recently announced a partnership with Synapse Sports to operate the Boys tournament at SAND STORM @ Palm Springs.  Located at the pristine Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA, Sandstorm is the premiere winter lacrosse event on the west coast.  
Power packed with competitive club teams from across the western United States, SAND STORM will once again provide the ultimate destination lacrosse experience.

The boy’s event will feature Elite, High School, Middle School and Youth divisions competing in a minimum of 5 games. The event will host the STX Pro Clinic series led by UVA 4X All American and Lax West’s own Michael Watson. This gives participants and coaches the opportunity to learn from one of games best and a staff of current pro players.  College coaches from all over the west will be invited to come evaluate some of the west’s best high school talent.  Lax West’s mission is to provide a platform through Sandstorm to enable western players the opportunity to participate in the college lacrosse recruiting experience.

Nestled in the desert valley below the San Jacinto Mountains, SAND STORM’S Palm Springs locale boasts unprecedented skyline views, a multitude of spa/golfing activities, spectacular weather making it the perfect family getaway with the opportunity to play on the unbelievable fields of the Empire Polo Club.

New for 2019:  Date change to 3-day weekend!

WHEN:                                 April 15-16, 2019

WHERE:                               Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA

WHAT:                                   Championship Tournament (5 game minimum)

DIVISIONS:                        Elite U19 / HS U17 / MS U15 / Youth U13

BOYS TEAM FEE:            $400/team to register + $80/player ($200 off registration fee)

TEAM UNO FEE:               Individual Registration – Boys: $100/player

REGISTER:    Email me directly

CONTACT:     Michael Watson /

Lax West Executive Director, Michael Watson, featured in the local San Diego newspaper

In a little over a year-and-a-half in existence, Carmel Valley-based Lax West youth lacrosse program has grown to have about 500 kids participate in its club teams, tournaments, camps and clinics. Leading the attack on this successful program is founder Michael Watson, a four-time All American and former professional lacrosse player.

“My head is spinning,” said Watson. “There’s a lot going on right now.”

Watson is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, right in the middle of America’s “hotbed” of lacrosse. He didn’t start playing until he was in the fourth grade, but quickly found an aptitude for the game.

He played college lacrosse at the University of Virginia, reaching the Final Four in the NCAA championships all four years and earning All American honors every year. After graduating, he played on Team USA in the Federation of International Lacrosse’s World Lacrosse Championships in 1998, scoring 12 goals and pitching in eight assists to help USA on to a world championship.

In 2001, Watson entered Major League Lacrosse, playing attack for the Boston Cannons and the LA Riptide. He just retired from professional lacrosse last year.

Watson has lived in San Diego since 1999 and worked in real estate while he played professionally. When the market crashed and his partnership split up, he took the time to start thinking about how he wanted to boost youth lacrosse in the area.

“The sport has just grown so much,” said Watson, who is the assistant coach for the Cathedral Catholic school varsity team. “I wanted to provide an alternative with a specific vision of developing young players, building their lacrosse skills and their lacrosse IQ.”

Lacrosse is a sport that borrows from a little bit of everything—it’s a little bit of soccer, although you play with a stick; a little bit like basketball, the way you move your feet and the pick and roll action; and like hockey in the way you play behind the goal and make contact with hits and checks.

A fast-paced sport, players are constantly in motion, running, stopping and starting again, making it a great cross-training activity for other sports.

“What’s great about lacrosse is you’re not limited by size,” said Watson. “You can be short and be successful, you can be tall and be successful, and you don’t have to be strong. There’s all kinds of ways to get on the field and succeed as a lacrosse player.”

Watson attributes lacrosse’s growth in the West to the increased exposure the sport is getting. ESPN regularly airs college lacrosse games and the proliferation of lacrosse how-to instruction videos on youtube has made it possible for people to view videos and teach themselves to play.

The Southern California climate makes year-round lacrosse possible and more and more tournaments are popping up.

“There’s just more opportunities for everyone who wants to learn and play the game, you can get hooked,” Watson said.

Area schools are racking up reputations for lacrosse strength. Torrey Pines has been successful and La Costa Canyon cracked the national top 20 last year.

“California’s starting to send Division 1-caliber athletes to schools back east and that’s a trend that’s going to continue,” Watson said.
Lax West teams cater to players from under-11 to high school on the boys’ side. The girls teams are just starting to roll out. They also have a Lax West Elite program, open to high schoolers with a focus on getting players recruited for college.

All of the coaches work in the system that Watson has designed, following the Lax West vision down to the drills players use in practice.

Kids learn not just the fundamentals of the game, but how to function as a team and those all-important life lessons.

“I want to do that for young players because playing sports can teach children so much more than the game,” said Watson.

Spring is the in-season, with the Carmel Valley Wildcats currently playing in the San Diego Club Lacrosse Association league, but Lax West runs programs year-round.

Home fields are at Cathedral Catholic, Solana Highlands and Ashley Falls elementary schools.

Currently, they are gearing up for this summer’s camps and tournaments, and tryouts will be held for the under-11, under-13, and under-15 Lax West Wahoos on April 23 and April 30.

Devoting his time fully to running Lax West and coaching, Watson said a part of him will miss competing in the major league.

“There’s nothing like playing and playing at the highest level, that’s why I wanted to play for so long,” Watson said. “But I get something different out of coaching, to really connect with the young players and make an impact on their lives is irreplaceable. I feel like I have a unique skill set and it’s my mission to share that unique skill set and experience with the kids out there.”