Lax Train to Clarksville: Thriving Lacrosse Scene Grows in Tennessee


On behalf of the Clarksville Kings Lacrosse Club, I wanted to thank US Lacrosse for selecting us as a 2019 recipient of the First Stick Program grant and take some time to tell you a little more about our club and the impact this grant will have on the community.

But first, I want to share with you something that happened a few weeks ago. One Saturday morning, our high school athletes were cooling down and our elementary school kids were gearing up. It was getting close to noon, when the Tennessee sun starts to beat down hot, even in early autumn.

A man crossed the municipal field where we practice and spoke to coach Bradley Wallace quietly for a moment before stepping back. Coach called all the boys to gather round and the man began to address them.

“You don’t know me,” he said, “but I live here in Clarksville, and my father passed away in August. I held it together pretty well all through the funeral service. Then we got in the car for the funeral procession, and we passed the field where y’all were practicing. I looked out the window and saw all of you take a knee as we drove past, and I lost it. I just lost it. You didn’t know my father, but he was an incredible person and what you did honored him and would have made him happy, and I just want to thank you for that.”

The man shook the hands of all our players, and walked back across the field. The boys finished tightening their gloves and jogged over to Coach to start their warmups. 

Clarksville is a rapidly growing city in middle Tennessee anchored by the Cumberland River and Fort Campbell, home to the 101st Airborne Division and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Most families in the area have a military connection, and many are transplants from other parts of the country.

Spanning a large geographical area, the city is a mix of rural and farming communities and densely populated urban neighborhoods. We have a robust and well-rounded county school system, but extracurricular activities remain a vital part of students’ lives, including sports, church and volunteering. 

Over the last few months, the Clarksville Kings Lacrosse club has moved swiftly to expand its reach across the county, forming for the first time a board of directors to guide the club into a new era of coaching, development and administration. Through social media and community partnerships, we’re spreading the gospel of lacrosse through all of our networks.

We’ve partnered with the public schools to reach students across the county. From August through October, we reached 4,200 students in 10 schools, from the youngest kindergarteners to the most seasoned high school seniors — with several more demonstrations scheduled in November and then well into 2019. Coach Wallace has designed age-appropriate programming to introduce the sport to these students and allow them a chance to try it out in their own gymnasiums.

We’re the only club in Tennessee that’s been able to integrate into the public schools to present and coach the sport of lacrosse, and the response from the community has been incredible. Not only are physical education teachers, who’ve never had lacrosse as part of the curriculum here, asking for us to come back again, but we also receive an average of five emails a week from parents whose children (boys and girls) have come home demanding to play lacrosse. Particularly among elementary school kids, the ranks are growing each week and practices are bustling with energy. 

And this is why your grant means so much to us.

Because Clarksville is such a diverse city, our players come to us from all walks of life. One family with two sons had the brothers share one stick, because it was all they could afford. Another player who moved here from California told us his equipment was sold when his father passed away. These are just two of many families to whom this grant means the opportunity to play a sport and be a part of these teams.

Our mission has been and always will be to grow the sport of lacrosse in Montgomery County by reaching as many players as possible and offering high quality coaching, development and competition. Your grant has made this possible in ways we could only imagine before.

We hope you’ll accept our gratitude and know that with your help, we’ll continue to grow the game here in Clarksville.

Dian Wallace is the communications director for the Clarksville Kings Lacrosse Club, a 2019 US Lacrosse First Stick Program grant recipient. 

22,000 Kids and Counting

Since 2011, the US Lacrosse First Stick Program has delivered more than $9.2 million worth of equipment to 22,370 kids on 768 new teams nationwide, mostly in urban and non-traditional areas. 

US Lacrosse recently expanded the program so that non-profit organizations can apply to receive a Starter Kit Package, which provides 30 lacrosse sticks, two dozen soft practice balls and two 3’x3’ goals. 

With the starter kit and guidance from Lacrosse Athlete Development Model teaching materials, program leaders can help kids with different ability levels discover and enjoy the sport. In subsequent years, those programs can then apply for First Stick grants as the players — and the program itself — mature.

US Lacrosse also is moving from an annual grant process to a rolling one. Awards are granted monthly from October through May and are coordinated by US Lacrosse regional staff rather than through the national office. This has allowed US Lacrosse to be more responsive to prospective new programs and to the needs specific to particular regions of the country.

The First Stick Program is made possible through donor support. To make a gift today, please visit


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