The first reaction one of the students at Charlotte Secondary had when he was introduced to lacrosse in 2015 was, “That’s a white person’s sport.” 

But, as he and other at-risk students at the public charter school found out, lacrosse wasn’t just for rich white kids – and it wasn’t just a sport. It turned into a source of pride, a chance to become part of a family, a path to college, and a way to honor the man who first believed in them. 

The inspiring story of this lacrosse team is featured in a new ESPN Films documentary, “Crossroads,” directed by Emmy Award-winning sports documentary producer Ron Yassen. 

The film premieres Thursday, August 23, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The movie’s trailer can be viewed below.

While some may view the film as simply an inspiring sports story featuring a team of awkward lacrosse newcomers who come together to challenge more established programs for the state championship in just three seasons, Yassen hopes that the film will resonate at a deeper level.

“This was a very important story about how kids find a way forward,” he said. “The story had so many dramatic twists and turns that we couldn’t believe it.”

Telling the story of the of the 2016 and 2017 lacrosse seasons, “Crossroads” captures not only the challenges and triumphs of the team, but also chronicles the unique relationship formed between the players and their coach, Bobby Selkin.

“As we discovered how deep the connection was between coach and players, it became a more meaningful story,” Yassen said.

Teddy Walker, the athletic director at Charlotte Secondary, saw lacrosse as a potential vehicle that could make a difference in the lives of his students. With assistance from a US Lacrosse First Stick Grant, he launched the school’s lacrosse program in 2015. Walker hired Selkin, a Long Island native who had a daughter that attended the school, as the team’s first coach.

“When I got to know some of the kids, I saw that many didn’t have the opportunities that I had in my life,” Selkin said. “I tried to level the playing field for these kids.”

Selkin leaned to his own background of hard work and commitment to help pave a road to success for his players. 

“I knew I had some good athletes. It was about teaching them the work ethic needed to succeed,” Selkin said. “Truthfully, it was not very challenging to get them to buy in. Succeeding was important to them. It mattered.”

While showcasing Charlotte Secondary’s rapid rise in the North Carolina lacrosse landscape, the film also delves into the significant off-the-field connection between Selkin and his players. Many would spend evenings after practice at his house doing their homework. Some have taken vacations with Selkin’s family.

“I never imagined that many of these kids would become like family to me,” he said.

Academic success became as big a priority as lacrosse success. With support from Selkin, grades and test scores improved dramatically for many of the players. College opportunities became a reality.

“Whether they get a lacrosse scholarship or academic scholarship doesn’t matter to me,” Selkin said. “I realized we could use lacrosse as a tool to get these kids to college.”

Selkin notes that all of the team’s graduating seniors over the past four seasons have gone on to attend college. 

“Seeing our characters form a bond with a coach and an athletic director who help transform their lives shows that anything is possible with teamwork, drive, and perseverance,” Yassen said.

Charlotte Secondary continues its involvement with US Lacrosse as a member of the Urban Lacrosse Alliance, receiving resources and equipment to support its program. 

‘Crossroads’ premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. It will be available for streaming Friday, August 24, on ESPN+. Since its inception in March 2008, ESPN Films has produced more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. 

First Stick Program

Success stories like Charlotte Secondary are made possible, in part, through donations to mission critical programs at US Lacrosse such as the First Stick Program and Urban Lacrosse Alliance.

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