True Lacrosse All-Region Games

Hundreds of True Lacrosse Youth Athletes Take Over IMG Academy for First Ever True All-Region Games

BRADENTON, Fla. — This past weekend began a new chapter for the nation’s leading lacrosse training and events company, as True Lacrosse hosted nearly 30 youth teams at its inaugural True All-Region Games held on the world-class IMG Academy campus.


The next step in advancing True’s training and competition, the True All-Region Games featured regional squads totaling more than 600 of the most dedicated youth players in the ever-expanding True Lacrosse network.


Taking place over the course of Feb. 3 and 4, it was the first event of its kind and culminated with four squads claiming hard-earned championships on Sunday afternoon.


The milestone weekend also brought together many of the best youth coaches the company has on staff from coast to coast, inviting each to share best practices, new ideas and to challenge one another, effectively raising the bar for True’s youth training.


The youth All-Region Games was held just two weeks after the well-received high school version of the event took over IMG Academy with more than 600 players making up 8 regional teams.


“The concept of the All-Region Games is something we’ve hoped we could do ever since we started True,” said Mike Gabel, True Lacrosse’s co-founder. “We know that our coaches are helping their players. We know they’re good coaches and we know they’re teaching them the proper way to play the game, so they become qualified players and keep improving.” Gabel and the True staff believe there’s no better way to bring out the best in one another — both coaches and players — than healthy competition.


“We want our families to embrace the rivalry between True state programs. We love the idea of True rivalries because we know it can raise the level of play and keep enriching our culture both nationally and locally.”


Athletes and their families gathered on Friday evening in the IMG Academy Stadium concourse, where a kaleidoscopic arrangement of custom player packs sparked a buzz that carried out


onto the pristine turf as players donned their custom-colored, old-school porthole mesh jerseys and took them for a pre-tournament spin with sticks in hand.


Throughout the weekend, parents and other family members rejoiced and applauded from the stadium stands or from the sidelines of the nearby turf fields, as the palm trees swayed and the sun shone all day Saturday and most of Sunday, too.


Members of the IMG Academy lacrosse staff were on hand to interact with attendees, as was a bevy of Premier Lacrosse League athletes to provide pointers and encouragement and to fire players up with pre-game speeches that no youngster could possibly forget.


Jim Stagnitta, the widely respected coach of the Maryland Whipsnakes, was on site and worked with different teams to share his vast knowledge built on decades of coaching the game at the highest levels. He went from sideline to sideline, offering tips to coaches and players alike.


The legendary coach enjoyed spending time with True regional squads and IMG lacrosse staff.


“Great energy and competition between the teams,” said Stagnitta, who led the Whipsnakes to back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020, the PLL’s first two seasons.


“The opportunity to interact with the players, offer some insight and advice was both refreshing and fun. Great experience!”


True leadership was pleased to see so many players and coaches of different backgrounds interacting and learning together.


“This a huge step for us in terms of being able to offer a complete experience throughout the year for our players and families,” said Gabel, who was a Division I goalkeeper at the University of Vermont before going on to play nine seasons of Major League Lacrosse.


Since founding the company in 2008 with his Chicago Machine teammate Jake Deane, Gabel says True has strived to keep high-level training, team building and player experience as the value proposition for any offering.


By bringing together players at the youth level, True coaches believe they can help them find their confidence and discover a love for the game as early as possible, leaving plenty of time for athletic development and skill improvement.


“We’ve learned from everything we’ve done as a company and we’re trying to use it to create and refine the best possible opportunities for our players and their families,” Gabel said.


Like others from his generation, Gabel recalls popular overnight lacrosse camps, which were instrumental in helping youngsters learn from different coaches and meet players from afar.


“The overnight camps have become a thing of the past, but those were traditionally important opportunities for players from my generation. We know that families today want to get their kids playing and truly learning at the youth level, but to make it worthwhile requires thoughtful and proven coaching. We want our True players to meet each other, train and compete as early as possible and put themselves on a meaningful path. We want this to be a special experience for these kids.”


For the nation’s leading provider of club travel teams and training services, including camps, clinics, showcases, recruiting exposure and more, the True All-Region Games assembles dozens of coaches for an essential and productive self-assessment.


John Mott, the director of True North Carolina’s Lake Norman program, helped coach Region 6 to a title win in the 2029 division. Mott hails from Long Island and had been working to grow lacrosse in and around Lake Norman for years before partnering with True in 2022.


He believes the company is setting itself apart with its determination to enhance coaching through communal knowledge and consistency.


“With True being such a large operation, obviously they do a great job of getting feedback from all the directors across the country and we’re just constantly trying to figure out, one, what’s the best development for the players but, two, what’s going to make this the best experience overall,” Mott said after his team’s win in the finale.


Shared resources, as opposed to working only with a local group of coaches, has been a boon to True coaches all over the country, according to Mott.


“With these other coaches you’re constantly picking up new tools, new verbiage, new ways to do things. It helps all of us across the country just stay at the top of our game coaching wise and you can see the continuity we’re developing through every team here,” he said.


“It’s really nice to see them execute something like this for these kids. I think it’s really paid off huge for them. Just a lot of smiles all the way around this weekend.”


Brecken Judge was elated and grinning from ear to ear after his Region 6 squad won the 2028 division title. Leading up to the event he thought it could be “the biggest weekend” of his life. With quick feet and well-timed checks, his stifling defense helped his team impress throughout the tournament and especially in the final. The performance earned him MVP honors.


The eight-grader from Falcon Cove Middle School plays for True Florida, but this past weekend teamed up with players from other southern states to claim the victory.


“Certain games were harder than others. There was times that we couldn’t connect as we should have. But we came together and finished,” said Brecken, who hopes to play in college.


“It’s real cool because I just made a bunch of new friends from North Carolina, and I can’t wait to run it back with them sometime. … If I can get back here again, that’d be great.”


Parents on hand enjoyed watching the different regional teams in action, too, as it offered them a chance to see the results of the system being used on fields elsewhere within the True network.


“It’s great to mix up the teams and play with kids from other parts of the region, to get to know them,” said Robert Vogel, whose son Fred plays for True Philly and was a standout defender with the Region 3 2031 championship team.


“There are National kids out there, you can see what it’s like to play up against them and they mix up the regions and so it’s been fun. It’s a really unique way for us to get to know more people in the True organization and to compete at a really high level.”


At both the high school and youth All-Region Games, state programs were grouped by region into teams, giving the chance for coaches to see how well players from various locations have responded to or developed within the training model that True coaches employ nationwide.


While not a direct tryout for the True National program, the All-Region Games serve as the largest and final National Program evaluation checkpoint before rosters are finalized for the upcoming year. True National is an elite powerhouse that brings together players of diverse backgrounds from all states and places them at the forefront of the college recruiting process.


As Gabel points out, the All-Region Games provide an ideal assessment opportunity for True’s national evaluators, who were on the sidelines during every game played at IMG Academy over the course of the two events.


“We’ve got a lot of kids that are from different states all around the country, and in some of our newer states that have joined over the last few years, we have a lot of players with aspirations to compete on our True National teams as well,” Gabel said.


Coaches within the True Lacrosse network are always looking for opportunities for their players, including exposure, and so naturally the All-Region Games present the chance for local


coaches to champion and get eyes onto their players who have the hopes of competing at the highest level.


“Here, we can evaluate them in a setting with and against some of the best players,” Gabel said. “Some of our current national players are here as well, so we get a chance to actually see them compete against each other, which is really cool, and it adds another element of competition. No one is penalized for not being here, but any player who is here can certainly make a case for himself and be rewarded for that.”


To see more photos from the event, and learn more about the nation’s leading training provider, visit www.truelacrosse.com and find them on Instagram @tl_truelacrosse & @tl_natn.

Here’s a region-by-region breakdown of the True All-Region Games youth event:

2028 (8 teams)

  1. MD (Pool 1)
  2. VA (Pool 2)
  3. IL, MN, WI (Pool 2)
  4. IN, MI, OH (Pool 1)
  5. CO, ID, OR, UT, WA (Pool 1)
  6. FL, NC, TX (Pool 2)
  7. NY (Pool 2)
  8. NJ, PA (Pool 1)

2029 (8 teams)

  1. MD (Pool 2)
  2. VA (Pool 1)
  3. IL, MN, WI (Pool 1)
  4. IN, MI, OH (Pool 2)
  5. CO, ID, OR, UT, WA (Pool 1)
  6. FL, NC, TX (Pool 2)
  7. NY (Pool 2)
  8. NJ, PA (Pool 1)

2030 (7 teams)

  1. VA (Pool 1)
  2. IL, MN, WI (Pool 1)
  3. IN, MI, OH (Pool 1)
  4. CO, ID, OR, UT, WA (Pool 1)
  5. FL, NC, TX (Pool 1)
  6. NY (Pool 1)
  7. NJ, PA (Pool 1)

2031 (4 teams)

  1. Region 7
  2. Region 3
  3. Region 6
  4. Region 8
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