Kyle Harrison’s story reverberates extremely loud with At Peak Sports. It was APS CEO William Metzger’s 13-year-old son, Austin, who suffered a lacrosse injury which prompted the first conversations about At Peak; so when the At Peak editorial staff was fortunate enough to be introduced to Kyle and his incredible lacrosse history, collaborating with the man kids across the country call “K18” for an interview was a no-brainer.
Hailing from Baltimore, MD, Kyle is a former recipient of the most coveted individual award in college lacrosse: the Tewaarten Trophy (2005). Since his days of gracing Johns Hopkins University campus, where he won an NCAA D1 National Championship, Kyle has developed into one of the most business savvy athlete entrepreneurs in the U.S. From working with brands like STX Lacrosse and NIKE to foster new MLL sponsorship deals, to championing youth lacrosse leagues and countless camps, Kyle is constantly looking for ways to revolutionize the ever-expanding lacrosse community. For instance, working with NYC-based journalist Jay Corbin, Kyle recently took his third annual New York City trip from his home in Newport Beach, CA to administer multiple inner city youth lacrosse clinics. We caught up with Kyle during that trip to speak about his biggest passion: creating a better tomorrow for youth lacrosse.
At Peak Sports: Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing youth sports on the planet. Why is lacrosse so popular?
Harrison: I guess a couple of things, for starters, I think in some sports you see a lot of injuries, I know out west in California, a lot of parents are taking their kids maybe out of football and looking for an alternative that still has some form of contact. If you really analyze the sport of lacrosse, it kind of combines the best parts of all the other sports; the kind of physicality of football, the offensive and defensive schemes of hockey, basketball, soccer, so I think it just combines the best aspects of all those sports.
APS: What needs to be done for youth lacrosse to continue growing? That’s obviously one of your passions, growing the game.
Harrison: I think everybody in the sport, for the most part, that’s played at any level, is pretty passionate about growing the sport, and the more we can continue to go to areas like California, Portland, Seattle, Texas, Denver, Utah, Vegas, and continue to push this thing and teach those kids the sport, I think it’s just going to obviously continue to grow. But I think what’s also helping is that finally we’ve had a couple of high-level players from the West Coast, like a kid named Peter Baum who just won the Tewaaraton Award, which is the Heisman of lacrosse; he won that and he’s from Portland and he just made Team USA so having kids like that, yeah it’s a big deal!
APS: Talk a little bit about why you’re in New York and the youth lacrosse clinics you’ve been conducting here in the five boroughs.
Harrison: I met Jay Corbin about four years ago, maybe even earlier, maybe it was 2009, I have no idea, either way, we met and we worked on a project with Beats headphones and that’s when we originally connected. Since then, every year I’ve come back to New York and put on these clinics with the Boys Clubs in Harlem and Brooklyn and it’s always a lot of fun.
APS: How important was staying healthy as a youth athlete toward your eventual success as a college and professional lacrosse player?
Harrison: Oh, so important. I think health, as an athlete at any level, is probably the most important thing. I’ve been fortunate that I didn’t get hurt any of my youth career, any of my college career, my first injury was about a couple of years ago when I tore my quad, so staying healthy, again, any sport, any level, is the most important thing.
APS: How long were you sidelined when you tore your quad? What was that therapy like?
Harrison: I got a great team of trainers and physical therapists out west at Evolution PT, which is in Culver City, right below L.A. and I didn’t have to get surgery. If you would have looked at the X-ray you probably would have said “Go get surgery immediately, ” but they just got me through it. I just did physical therapy for about a year, never missed a game, I kept playing, I mean, I wasn’t moving very fast for a couple of those games but was able to make Team USA and play professionally without surgery, so it was good.
APS: Talk about your favorite youth lacrosse memory before Hopkins, maybe at Friends Academy, or even before your high school days. Do you have a favorite moment?
Harrison: Yeah, I mean I have a bunch of favorite moments! I guess one off the top of my head would be when we beat Cockeysville, it doesn’t mean anything to you guys, being from New York, but in Baltimore basically there are these powerhouses, youth leagues. Cockeysville was a big one and Lutherville is big one and we would always lose to them and when we got to like sixth grade we all grew a little faster than they did, and so we won the game and that was a big deal.
APS: What achievement are you most proud of in your lacrosse career? You can talk about winning the National Championship at Hopkins in 05’ or making it to the MLL, whatever comes to mind!
Harrison: My lacrosse career has been interesting because I didn’t get very good until sophomore year of college. And so, when I got to Hopkins, I didn’t expect to start, I expected maybe I’d get on the field every now and then, get some ground balls, do something. So when I got to play in the first midfield, my freshman year, right of the gate, for me, that was like the end all be all, like I did it. And then from there things have gone pretty well. Again, everything has been such a blessing only because I didn’t expect any of it.
APS: That first season as a starter didn’t go so well, statistically speaking, for you?
Harrison: Yes. I had nine goals, and four assists in my freshman year. Which is, as a midfielder, who’s dodging and has the ball in his stick every play… pretty bad for a guy who has the ball all the time! And so in my sophomore year I jumped up, I think I was about 27 and 15 and I was up for player of the year and all this stuff. It had nothing to do with the talent level as much as confidence and work ethic. And again it was weird, I wish I would had expected more of myself in the beginning, I was just happy to be there.
APS: Your coach at the time, Dave Pietramala, the legendary Johns Hopkins player and coach, said something to ignite your level of play that year.
Harrison: Coach Pietramala wrote me this letter saying “Greatness is awaiting you, only if you’re willing to work for it.” The letter is still on my wall at my parent’s house just because it kind of changed everything.
APS: Who in your humble opinion is the best lacrosse player of all time?
Harrison: You know man, that’s a tough question because you start to leave generations, right; like Jim Brown, Gary Gait, are arguably the two best ever but I didn’t see them play live, in their prime. I saw Gary at the end of his career, still incredible, but those are I think, the two we hold up as the two best ever, but I didn’t get to see them.
APS: The Zeus Gods of the sport!
Harrison: Right, exactly. So I guess more from my generation, John Grant Jr. has been incredible, A.J Hogan, Jay Jalbert, Jesse Hubbard, these are guys that are, in my opinion, some of the best to ever do it.
Other recent At Peak Athlete interviews include:
- John Gallucci, JAG PT Founder, MLS Medical Coordinator, At Peak Sports Investor
- Howard Cross, NFL Analyst and At Peak Sports Director, Football
- At Peak Interviews: Crystal Dunn, U.S. Women’s National Team, At Peak Athlete
- Study Says Overspending May Not Equal Higher Performance, Prof. Travis Dorsch Agrees
Player photos found at IAmKyleHarrison.com.