Why Lacrosse is one of the Fastest Growing Sports in the Lowcountry



Published:

South sits down with Christian Harris, owner of Lowcountry Lacrosse Savannah, to discuss the rise of lacrosse in the lowcountry, its history, and how we play it a little differently down south.

SOUTH: At the recent State of the City address, Mayor DeLoach talked about promoting after school sports as a way to help reduce crime in the city. Is this something you've noticed in your work, or something that you're looking to become a part of?

Christian Harris: I'm actually really glad you asked this question. Myself and one of my coaches for the youth rec league, Billy Groves, went to the first meeting that Copie Burnett of the Savannah Dawgs put on when he invited us and a few other local youth sports organizations to speak with city and county council members: Pat Farrell, Julian Miller, Helen Stone, and a few others. We had representation from travel volleyball, track and field, baseball, football and lacrosse at that first meeting.

Our ultimate goals were (1) to convince the city that we needed to drastically improve the field spaces that exist now for our youth, (2) that with the population growth, more fields will be needed to accommodate (not only our youth, but the opportunity to host tournaments that will draw thousands of visitors and revenue to the area) and (3) that the investment in the city's facilities will help to slow the spread of crime throughout the city by providing a safe environment where kids can play competitive sports and stay out of trouble.

For one thing, lacrosse in the Coastal Empire has had a massive growth spurt: from the spring season of 2015 to the spring season of 2016 (which is the regular lacrosse season) we had 50% growth in participation for boys and 35% for girls; that growth was partially due to a field change - we always used the Landing's fields for lacrosse and when we moved it to a central location at Daffin Park, we boomed. Therefore, we believe that with more facilities there will be more youth sports' participants; the old adage, "if you build it, they will come" comes to mind and the philosophy is certainly true with lacrosse.

Second, we travel to lacrosse tournaments all over the southeast. We've sent teams to Atlanta, Charleston, Columbia, Charlotte, and as far as Baltimore. These tournaments can draw close to a hundred teams from all over the country; with 20 players on a typical roster, that would be 2,000 players and their families coming to a city for a weekend to patronize hotels, restaurants, tourist centers, etc. It seems to me that Savannah has a lot of untapped potential in the youth sport tourism industry; however, there are those from the Chamber who understand the potential and the need, but are hesitant to go in depth about Savannah's deteriorating fields and it's rampant crime.

Last, I have an education background. I taught in Title I schools in Denver for three years before switching careers and getting in the lacrosse industry with both feet (I was always a coach); I understand the need for after school programs and especially for athletics. I have known students, that had it not been for their eligibility being jeopardized, would not have pushed themselves in the classroom to compete on the field or on the court to earn their graduation credits. Furthermore, after school programs will keep kids out of trouble no matter what, but we can't put all of our effort in one basket, as I understand the previous superintendent did; neglecting the student-athletes for those in the arts.

 

SOUTH: In your opinion, what are the biggest reasons for the growth of lacrosse in our area?

Christian Harris: Lacrosse has been and is the fastest growing sport at the high school and youth levels for nearly twenty years in a row; give or take a year or two that rugby outpaced. It is a fast, action packed sport that contains aspects of hockey, soccer, basketball and football all rolled into one. Major League Lacrosse player and Hall of Famer Kyle Harrison says, "Lacrosse has taken off because it combines the hitting of football, the speed of basketball, and requires the endurance of soccer." It is a finesse sport that allows contact, not the collision contact that football has; it is the fastest sport on two feet, outrunning the soccer players; it is back and forth like hockey and high scoring like basketball. It is, in my humble opinion, impossible to be bored! Not only for the players, but for the fans too. Savannah is prime to embrace lacrosse and I think our growth is only just beginning.
 

SOUTH: Why do you think that lacrosse has stood the test of time, and has it adapted at all over the years? Do you think that Northerns play the game any different than Southerners?

Christian Harris: Lacrosse is a sacred game; the Native Americans call it "the Creator's Game" and believe it is a gift for us to play, and a gift for the creator to watch us play. There is a ton of history and respect that goes into lacrosse, which I think makes it extra special. I have a tiny bit of Chickasaw blood in me, and I take great pride in the fact that the Chickasaw of Tennessee also played a version of lacrosse, called Toli; Tewaaraton and Baggataway are other names used by the northern Iroquois and Chippewa, respectively.

The game up north is different only because of how long is has been around. Lacrosse in general has been around for a thousand years (it truly is North America's oldest sport); the French-Canadians first saw it played in the late 1600s and called it la crosse because it looked like the Natives were using a bishops' crosse. Up until the 1970s, lacrosse sticks were cut from a single tree and made by an almost shaman type figure; in the 70s with the era of plastics, the sticks were standardized, patented and lighter. In the late 90s, sticks made a revolutionary change in being able to control the ball better, a term called "off-set", and now we have carbon fiber shafts as light as 5 oz, and heads as light as 4.3 oz while still being able to withstand the force of hard checks from opponents. The past ten years has seen incredible advances, thanks in part to the growth of the game on a more national scale.

From Western New York to the Massachusetts Bay area, and the Hudson Valley/Fairfield County in Connecticut (where I grew up) to the Baltimore harbor has been the hot bed of lacrosse for decades. Lacrosse in the northeast is faster, it has more skilled and higher IQ players compared to those that are a bit more physical in the south stemming from the football culture, and a slower, or more "laid back" style of play in the west; the skills and IQ will certainly change with time. However, there are two things that are true for every team; ground balls win games and defense wins championships.

 

SOUTH: What upcoming events/activities do you have that people can get involved in?

We have year round opportunities; the spring season for K-8th grade boys and girls; summer travel teams with tryouts in April for 8-18 year old boys and girls; a local summer camp hosted by the Head Coach of Army, Joe Alberici in the second week of June; fall ball opportunities for beginners and dedicated players K-12; indoor box lacrosse (5v5 in a concrete hockey rink); and a camp every MLK weekend.

We are three weeks into our spring season and have had a very successful Lowlax Kick Off featuring all of the areas youth teams, club high school teams, varsity high school teams, and four Division II college teams. It has been a ton of fun to see the growth and be a part of the team of passionate people down here that are helping to promote it. We certainly can't wait to see what is else is in store as we #growthegame.

To stay up to date with all the newest, upcoming events in the south, follow South magazine here.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

South's Greatest Bosses 2017

We're looking for the greatest, most enthusiastic southern bosses. If your boss is the greatest, enter them into this contest!

South's Greatest Dads 2017

Nominate your dad for the South's Greatest Dads contest! Winners will be featured in a photo spread for South's June/July issue!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • Savannah Orchid Show

    Apr 28, 2017
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Coastal Botanical Gardens

    Attention flower buffs! Save the date for the Savannah Orchid Show sponsored by the Deep South Orchid Society. This AOS-juried show returns to the...

  • 30th Annual Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival

    Apr 30, 2017
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Memorial Waterfront Park

    One of the most highly anticipated events of the year, this unique seafood festival pays tribute to Mount Pleasant’s local shrimping and...

  • The Clean House

    Apr 30, 2017
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater presents "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl. A whimsical and poignant portrayal of class, death, companionship, soulmates,...

  • Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert

    Apr 30, 2017
    3:00 PM @ The Lucas Theatre

    Duke Ellington thought of his Sacred Concerts as the most important music he had ever done. They are made up of three...

  • “Rewind” at the Savannah Theatre

    Mar 15, 2017
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Theatre

    The Savannah Theatre presents “Rewind!” March 1-26, Sept. 1-Nov. 17 and Dec. 27-30, 2017. Rewind back to the first time that...

  • Monday Night Tennis Exhibition

    May 01, 2017
    5:30 PM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Join us at the Sea Pines Racquet Club for an exciting tennis demonstration with valuable tips, refreshments, prize drawings and our traditional...

  • The Savannah VOICE Festival, "Cabaret Tangerine"

    May 01, 2017
    6:30 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tangerine Fusion and Sushi Bar

    The Savannah VOICE Festival will kick off its Prelude Week with "Cabaret Tangerine." Enjoy a three-course meal with a glass of wine or beer as the...

  • The Savannah Portrait Society

    May 01, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    The Savannah Portrait Society is dedicated to providing professional artists the opportunity to engage in the discipline of portrait painting from...

  • Art League of Hilton Head presents the 25th Biennale, National Juried Art Exhibition 2017

    May 02, 2017
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Art League of Hilton Head Gallery

    May 2 - May 31, 2017, Monday- Saturday from 10am-4pm and 90 minutes before every Arts Center performance.   Artists from all over the country...

  • Freshwater Fishing

    May 01, 2017
    10:00 AM - 11:30 AM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Enjoy a relaxing morning by the beautiful lakes of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve while fishing. Supplies provided. Reservations required. 

  • Art League of Hilton Head 3-Day Workshop: Painting a Dynamic Landscape

    May 02, 2017
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ At League of Hilton Head Academy

      3-Day Workshop: Painting a Dynamic Landscape with Biennale judge Susan Mayfield, May 2-4, 2017 from 10am-4pm at Art League Academy.   ...

  • 19th Annual TLC Golf Tournament

    May 02, 2017
    11:00 AM @ Club at Savannah Harbor

    The Tourism Leadership Council will be holding its annual golf tournament on Tuesday, May 3, at The Club at Savannah Harbor. Golfers will be...

  • Don’t Get Hacked! Speros CEO to Share Tips at Chamber’s SMART Luncheon

    May 02, 2017
    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM @ Savannah Morning News-Auditorium

    Heather Radtke, Vice President
 of Speros, Inc., on Tuesday, May 2, will discuss five steps small business owners can take to avoid having their...

  • Forest Preserve Wagon Journey

    Apr 25, 2017
    5:00 PM - 6:30 PM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Sit back, relax and experience the animals and plant life of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Reservations required.

  • Golf Croquet & Clinic

    May 01, 2017
    10:00 AM @ The Sea Pines Resort

    Enjoy playing golf croquet on our immaculate lawn adjacent to the Harbour Town Clubhouse, with equipment available throughout the day.

  • Hearts Open Golf-A-Thon

    May 03, 2017
    12:00 AM - 12:00 AM @ Haig Point Signature Course

    Join Hospice Care of the Lowcountry on May 3-4 for a unique and fun opportunity to raise funds for hospice care while golfing for a chance to win...

  • Low-cost Vaccination Clinic

    May 04, 2017
    2:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Pet Fix Savannah

    Keeping your dog or cat up-to-date on annual vaccinations that prevent highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases is essential to your...

  • Savannah VOICE Festival: Arias and Entrees

    May 04, 2017
    6:15 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Quarters Country Club

    This evening of song will compliment the international adventure of a four-course meal with elegantly paired wine. "Arias and Entrees" will be held...

  • The Art of Pairing

    May 04, 2017
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Island Social Club

    The Tybee Island Wine Festival kick off with the Art of Pairing at Tybee Island Social Club on Thursday, May 4. The Art of Pairing is an...

  • The Clean House

    May 04, 2017
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater presents "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl. A whimsical and poignant portrayal of class, death, companionship, soulmates,...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Wine, Women and Shoes

Wine, Women & Shoes events are community events that bring women together around fine wine, great style, and causes that matter. WW&S has exploded across North America in the last decade, producing more than 300 fabulous events that have helped net an impressive $44 million for their nonprofit partners. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire puts on the only Wine, Women & Shoes event in the area. The RMHC of the Coastal Empire is a non-profit organization that provides a restful, comfortable place for children and their families to find refuge and support as they receive medical treatment at our nearby hospitals. This year's event was a sold-out affair that's sure to be remembered!

Courtyard Celebration at the Gingerbread House

Among the most elaborate architecture in Savannah is The Gingerbread House - always a "must see" highlight of a guided tour of the Historic District Savannah. The Courtyard Celebration event at the Gingerbread House, that took place on April 25th from 5:30-7pm, was presented by the SavannahHELPS series of monthly charity events that happen every 4th Tuesday at 5:30pm. Guests of the event were asked to bring a $5 donation or pet supplies and food to benefit local charities.

Race for the Cure

Hundreds of patrons flocked downtown Savannah in support of breast cancer awareness.

Love The Wine You're With

Love The Wine You're With is a power networking event presented by South magazine and 39 Rue De Jean. It takes place the third Wednesday of each month and is free to attend. This past Wednesday, April 19, guests enjoyed $7 glasses of select regional wine and delicious appetizers while networking and raising funds to benefit the featured charity of the month. Proceeds from this months event went to benefit the Coastal Center for Developmental Services, a non-profit agency that provides employment-related services, training and community integration opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. Rue De Jean donated $1 from each glass of select wine purchased during the event as well as a silent auction put on by a different local charity!

Cocktails at Cohen's

On Thursday April 13th, roughly 200 guests gathered to celebrate the tireless fundraising efforts of friend and local hero, Don Logana, at Cohen's Retreat in Savannah. There were cocktails, a silent auction, a 50/50 Raffle and live music from Liquid Ginger! All proceeds raised through the event will go toward the National MS Society's "Walk MS Savannah 2017" for Team Don Logana and his fight for a cure to Multiple Sclerosis. By the end of the night, the event had helped raise $2,235 to go towards fight for a cure to MS.

4th Annual Shot in the Dark

The 4th annual "Shot in the Dark" sporting clays took place on Saturday, April 8 at the Dorchester Shooting Preserve. The event was put on by Hodges, Hunter & Wilkes and trial lawyers at Oliver Manor, LLP. All of the proceeds from the event went to the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision. Teams of four shooters received 100 clays, cart, great prizes and a delicious lunch prepared by the hard workers at Dorchester. After the event, guests were treated to a whiskey tasting.

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes

There is an old saying, "You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mil in their shoes." And that is exactly what this event does. A Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediations to men's sexualized violence against women. Our men showed us their support last Thursday, April 6 at Forsyth Park.

Tide and Country Grand Opening

The father-daughter business started online, selling one-of-a-kind home decor items and apparel. Now, they have their very own brick and mortar store on Shipyard Road. Daughter Mackenzie and father Michael, along with countless other supporters, cut that red ribbon signifying the opening of their store on Friday, April 7. We wish them all the best of luck!

Publix Women's 5k & Half Marathon

The Publix Women's 5k and half marathon took place early in the morning on Saturday, April 8. The race highlighted the beautiful Historic District in 13.1 miles of tree-lined streets and city squares. Runners ran along side each of Savannah's two largest recreational parks, Forsyth and Daffin. The route also navigated around 12 of the city's scenic squares before a picture-perfect finish at the iconic Forsyth Park Fountain.

Savannah's Best Connections

Savannah's Best Connections took place on Wednesday, April 5th at Billy's Place in Savannah. This event was only the third of its kind, but it sure was a successful night. The event featured guest speaker and former NFL/GSU running back Adrian Peterson, author of Don't Dis My Abilities. Guests were greeted with door prizes and light hors d'oeuvres while mingling among "Savannah's best" professionals and entrepreneurs. A 50/50 raffle benefited the Adrian Peterson foundation.