Memphis Kings LAX: Making Lacrosse a Memphis Fixture

Posted on August 1, 2014

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By Casey Black

laxJust about every high school sport is supplemented by a summer league or club system to maintain athletes’ skills through the offseason. In Memphis, lacrosse is the exception. Rather, it was the exception.

Peter Hall, an Arlington, VA native and fairly recent graduate of Rhodes College, recognized the absence of a skills-training, off-season program for high school lacrosse players in Memphis. So, Hall, joined by four of his Rhodes lacrosse buddies, set out to make some changes in the Mid-South lacrosse community. The result is an off-season club lacrosse team called the Memphis Kings.

“The thing about Memphis is that lacrosse is growing rapidly, but with that, there isn’t the growth of coaching or even people who know the sport very well,” says coach Peter Hall. “There’s been a lot of transition.”

Like the rest of Hall’s post-graduate endeavors, it all started with an idea and a little initiative. The 24-year old has already founded his own marketing company called SAM: Socially Advanced Marketing, as well as a non-profit organization called Promise Water benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Oh, and he also coaches high school lacrosse on the side. While playing a primary role in building Rhodes’s on-again, off-again lacrosse club team into a Division III program, Hall coached at Briarcrest Christian School, ECS and Collierville High School. More recently, he has assisted in the establishment of the Arlington High School lacrosse team.

But let’s rewind a bit. Hall hails from Virginia, a state well-versed in the lacrosse culture of the Northeast.

“I got started playing lacrosse at an early age. My brother played, and I grew to love the sport,” remembered Hall. “So, I played all through high school and went to a boarding school to play. It came time for college and I said, ‘Okay, I can try to play lacrosse in college; maybe D III and have it be a chore.’ I would’ve done something like that if there was anything to go into afterward. There’s really nothing past college to do with lacrosse.”

So, Hall enrolled at Rhodes College, an exceptional private liberal arts school with no lacrosse team.

“I saw a huge potential for Rhodes to get talented kids from the North and Northeast that they normally wouldn’t be able to tap into. So, Rhodes told me to put a club team together, go to games and get allocation money. After that, they would look into it seriously. I was able to get a skeleton squad of ten or so guys together. Rhodes also gave me the ability to coach at the high school level. I learned that I loved the coaching aspect of the sport, and I knew I wanted to continue it after college.”

Hall noted that the trend of players’ dads filling the lacrosse coaching positions at high schools, while generous, doesn’t help with the building of necessary skill sets. At the Memphis Kings, the high schoolers work in a small group of no more than 20. They want to keep it small, so there is about a 3:1 player-coach ratio at each practice. Hall and his fellow coaches don’t hold tryouts; rather they reach out to the players they think have the drive, talent and ability to play lacrosse at the collegiate level. At the very least, these players will be able to use the off-season to increase their skills tenfold. The coaches can prove it too. Each practice is video-recorded so that the young athletes can make highlight reels for prospective college programs. They can also track their progress from the first practice to the last.

“We want these kids to go back to their high school programs in the spring and show considerable improvement in skills and talent,” says Hall.

If the first season is successful, Hall says that they will eventually expand the program to include a girls’ team and different age groups.

At its core, Memphis Kings Lacrosse is all about grabbing the attention of elite college programs for the kids.

“A lot of great lacrosse schools also provide a great education,” said Hall. “If you want to go to one of the best football schools, you’re probably looking at playing in the SEC. For lacrosse, you’re probably going to the Ivy League.”

Let’s not forget about Rhodes, now.

For more information, visit the Memphis Kings Lacrosse website.

Casey Black is a Memphis native who now is a senior at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville. Read her coverage of the Memphis Grizzlies on her blog.

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Posted in: Sports