CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 2018, the NCAA found in a study that lacrosse is the fastest-growing collegiate sport since 2003.
The Charlotte 49ers recently announced they will add women's lacrosse in 2024-25.
In North Carolina, there are now over 100 high school programs across the state and a Charlotte-area school has played for the state championship in each of the last 11 NCHSAA tournaments.
And this weekend, the professionals are in town.
Premier Lacrosse League, or PLL, will play a set of four games Friday-Saturday at American Legion Memorial Stadium.
On Thursday night, some of the teams practiced at Matthews Sportsplex.
Jack Rowlett knows the state of the sport in North Carolina. He played his college lacrosse at UNC.
"Just coming out to a field like this, kids are walking past you, they know your name, they ask for your autograph," PLL player Jack Rowlett said. "Just the last 5,6,7 years you've really seen the entire state blossom."
He's thrilled the league, which features eight teams, is coming to the area.
"It's great," Rowlett said. "I've been pushing for a game back here pretty much since the first year of the league."
The PLL, based in Los Angeles, uses a tour-based scheduling model.
The season started in Albany, New York. This week it's in Charlotte. Next week there are games in Long Island, New York.
This weekend's schedule at Memorial Stadium is as follows
- 6:00 p.m.-Chrome vs. Redwoods on ESPN+
- 8:45 p.m.-Chaos vs. Archers on ESPN+
- 6:00 p.m.-Atlas vs. Cannons on ESPN2
- 8:45 p.m.-Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs on ESPN+
Rowlett is thrilled to be continuing his lacrosse career after college.
"Growing up watching pro sports, like you want to be playing on the biggest network, we got ESPN. Okay, well, that's a check there," he said. "You want to wear cool gear play with the best players in the world. Okay, well, we got that marked down too. So, you know, the ability to just to extend my lacrosse career, everyone in the league I think is really thrilled about that."
Rowlett's Chaos team is the defending league champion, and that name might be a good description for the defender's playing style.
"I don't necessarily love who I am on the field," he said. "I definitely play hard and I like to run my mouth a lot and make sure guys know we're going to protect our crease and protect our paint."
For tickets to PLL visit here.