PARK TWP. — It won’t appear in the charts and won’t be played on the radio, but to the West Ottawa boys lacrosse team, one song was memorable from their time together.


The Flanagan song.


It’s a spin on the Michael Finnegan song and was created by West Ottawa coach Rick Becker, featuring unique lyrics for Panthers senior Braydon Flanagan and his brother Cameron, who graduated in 2017 and also played lacrosse.



“I hope Becker reads this,” Flanagan said with a laugh. “He made a little song for my brother and I. He always sung it throughout the season. It was hilarious.”


Fellow Panthers senior Jagger DenHof said it’s quite melodic.


“I’ve definitely heard it,” DenHof said, laughing. “It’s been a minute since I heard it, but it’s got a good tune to it.”


Becker said the song is one of many ways he tries to connect with his players. The Flanagans moved to St. Charles, Illinois while Braydon was in middle school, but eventually came back to West Ottawa.


“They actually moved away,” Becker said. “That’s one of those stories where they were West Ottawa kids, moved to Illinois and we dreaded that because his brother played on varsity. They moved away, then they moved back. When two lacrosse players move back, that’s like Christmas in the springtime.


“We were just having fun. It’s an Irish song — Flanagan, Finnegan.”


The song is one of many things the Panthers will be missing out on this year after all spring sports were canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.


“It was a bummer because we already had four practices, so we already had the mindset of having a great season,” Flanagan said. “Especially our senior season, we were looking pretty strong. It was hard because I was ready for a whole season.


“We’re all pretty bummed out.”


DenHof was expecting big things.


“It does stink that we can’t play our last season,” DenHof said. “Especially because we could have had a breakaway season this year because we had a good senior class and a good junior class. We were all excited to go out and play.


“I’ve looked at it as, I had three good years and put forth the effort, and know my teammates did, too.”


As juniors, Flanagan and DenHof distinguished themselves as leaders. Flanagan, a defender, had 45 groundballs and 19 takeaways. DenHof had 23 goals and 17 assists.


“Jagger was the quarterback,” Becker said. “He could dodge, pass, score — just got everything going for us on offense. He did a great job. He was shifty, a stick-handling phenom. Braydon was the captain of the defense, just did it all. He could clear the ball, was a lockdown defender. He could lead by example but also got the guys going where they need to be.”


Flanagan said the relationship between the offense and defense was a key dynamic for the team.


“It’s a love-hate relationship in practices,” Flanagan said. “You kind of have to hate them because you’re going against them, but in games, you loved it when they had the ball because you get a little breather on defense. It was good being strong on both sides of the field so that whenever they came down, we were pretty confident we could get it back to Jagger and the other attackmen. I was confident in Jagger to get the ball and put it in the back of the net most of the time.


“Shout out to the rest of the boys as well — it’s not a one-man team.”


Flanagan will play club lacrosse at Michigan State after high school, while DenHof will attend Grand Valley State for computer science.


The players have discussed the season cancellation among themselves and helped each other get through it.


DenHof works with teammates Connor and Trevor Williams — two twins on the team — at National Bulk Equipment (NBE) in Holland.


“Coach was thinking about moving (Trevor) to attack this year, so me and him would have had a fun dynamic we could have played with, so we talked about that and how this was his first year to play attack,” DenHof said. “We talked during lunches and during our breaks at work and just talked about all the seasons and what we could have done together this season.”


Speaking of brothers on the team, Flanagan said having his brother on the team previously helped prepare him for a leadership role.


“I knew all of his friends coming in as a freshman,” Flanagan said. “They were all seniors, so I got along very well with them. That kind of brought me into good position, being confident on the field and off the field with the whole team.


“It put me in good position to be a captain last year. I was confident in the team. I could feel comfortable around them and they all respected me as well.”


Respect played a big role on the team, and both Flanagan and DenHof respected and appreciated coach Becker.


“Great guy,” Flanagan said of Becker. “I love that guy. The goofiest dude, he could always make the whole team smile. Serious when you need him to be, but never a dull moment with coach Becker. There was always something going on the whole team could get behind and laugh all together.


“He definitely made my high school lacrosse career really fun. I was excited about going to practice everyday, going to see Becker, going to see all the boys on the field.”


DenHof said Becker treated the team as equals.


“I loved playing under coach Becker,” DenHof said. “He always found a way to keep us on our good spirits. He was really good about listening to the players and listening to feedback that they wanted and implementing it into gameplay, so it’s fun being able to play underneath a coach that respects us as equals, and was willing to listen.


“I thought that was really cool of him.”


It was all part of the family aspect.


That always came first.


“A lot of the players had older brothers on the team, so we talk about family,” Becker said. “It’s literally their brother and literally our family that has missed out on this season, so I just feel bad about that for those guys. They love the game, I love the game — it’s all about that. But even more than that, wins and losses don’t add up as much to the relationships and when you can play for each other, it makes it that much more fun, and that’s the day-to-day work, too. When you’re at practice, it’s not about, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ but it’s like, ‘Let’s go do it together.’


“I miss that.”


— Contact Assistant Sports Editor Beau Troutman at btroutman@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @BVTroutman.