Flanagan Honored to Be Entering National Interscholastic Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Skip Flanagan has dedicated the majority of his life to the sport of lacrosse, taking him to places all around the country. The Chester resident will be recognized for his efforts as a mentor and a coach when Skip is inducted into the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame in November.
Skip is already a member of the United States Lacrosse Association Hall of Fame, having been inducted into both the Connecticut and Ohio branches. Skip understands the significance of his most-recent distinction and feels proud to be heading into the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It’s a nice honor. I’ve been in coaching for half of a century,” says Skip. “This is a different level. It’s the most prestigious award for a secondary school coach. This is as high as you can go.”
Before he was a coach, Skip played lacrosse while growing up in Maryland. He started in 7th grade and played his high school lacrosse at St. Paul’s in Maryland. After graduating from high school, Skip earned degrees from Rutgers, Michigan, and Harvard, playing lacrosse for both Rutgers and Michigan.
When he was a lacrosse player, Skip had the opportunity to learn about the sport from many talented coaches. He watched them intently and absorbed their coaching styles. Skip liked seeing how different coaches interacted with their teams and the ways that they went about leading large groups of players.
“It gave me a wonderful opportunity to consider the important aspects of leadership and emotionality that a coach brings to the game,” Skip says. “I was able to ascertain what the successful aspects of being a coach might be. I took notice of how my coaches interacted with their players.”
Skip studied his coaches with a purpose. He always wanted to teach. Skip knew that he wanted to coach, but understood that his job as a teacher came first. He has taught both English and French.
However, in order to be a strong teacher, Skip felt like he needed to know his students outside of the classroom. So, Skip entered the world of coaching and began passing on his knowledge of lacrosse.
“I started out wanting to be a teacher. Coaching was always something you did outside the corpus of your main job. If you really want to reach the students, you have to see them in different aspects of their lives,” Skip says. “I continued to teach and be a head coach all while being the headmaster.”
During his coaching career, Skip has had stops at The Peddie School in New Jersey, the Western Reserve Academy, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, the English national team, and now at Avon Old Farms. He’s also served as the headmaster at Western Reserve Academy.
In his years of coaching, Skip has learned that you need to be under control in order to succeed in that role. Skip knows that it’s difficult to be a strong leader if you let your emotions get the best of you. He looks to promote respect and humility as a coach. Above all else, Skip wants to ensure that his athletes are learning skills that will benefit them far beyond the lacrosse field.
“Respect and humility. Hard work and preparation comes without question,” says Skip. “The most important thing is that the lessons you learn are applicable to aspects of one’s life. My job is to encourage life skills that will be useful in the years ahead.”
While there have been a few breaks in between, Skip has served as the head coach of boys’ lacrosse at Avon Old Farms for 20 years. He’s back for an interim role for the current school year. Skip, who has also served as a dean at school, was inducted into the Avon Old Farms Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 and earned the title of Head Coach Emeritus in 2018. Skip keeps coming back because he enjoys working with up-and-coming lacrosse players and getting a chance to make a difference in their lives.
Kevin Driscoll is a dean, advancement officer, and Football Coach Emeritus at Avon Old Farms. Driscoll has seen Skip coach the athletes on the Avon boys’ lacrosse team. As he does so, Driscoll is in awe of what Skip brings to the program.
“He’s probably the most influential and top high school lacrosse coach in America. He’s a really special man,” Driscoll says of Skip. “He’s a great teacher, a great influencer, a great dean, and a great headmaster. He’s very well-respected in every way. He’s an intellectual, but he’s really down to earth, a great guy. I can’t say enough about Skip Flanagan. He’s one in a billion.”
Skip has been a lacrosse coach for over 50 years. During that time, he’s had the opportunity to work with numerous athletes of varying skill levels in different states. Skip feels happy to be back at Avon Old Farms and is eager to see what his team can achieve during its upcoming season. As he enters the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Skip feels proud to have been involved with lacrosse for as long as he has.
“It has been a great avenue to work with and, I hope, enhance avenues for young people,” says Skip. “I love the competition.”