MADISON, Miss. (WJTV) — Clarke Wise coaches lacrosse in central Mississippi.
“My wife and I moved from Washington D.C.,” Wise said. “We live not far from the two-lane practice field and we were driving by one day and I saw about ten or so of these kids out there and I looked over and I said, ‘Julie I think they’re playing lacrosse here in Mississippi.”
Wise has been coaching ever since. The former Rhodes College standout is in his 5th season with Madlax, an at-large program based in Madison.
He said the sport is growing rapidly across the country.
“I’m from Columbus, Ohio that’s where I grew up playing the game and played a lot on the east coast as well,” said Wise. “We’re already seeing it kind of transition down here in the south. When I started at Rhodes College it was a club program and now they are a nationally ranked program. So, I think it’s making its way down here. I’m encouraged because when we started out we may play like for our five games. Now we’re looking at 10/12 games a season, teams from Oxford all the way down to Biloxi, Ocean Springs area.”
But, with the growth, there are still only about 5 at-large teams across the Magnolia State.
So, why aren’t more kids playing lacrosse?
“If you know anything about sports, you know Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee produce football players,” said Bryant Butler, president of Mississippi Lacrosse. “And I think people think it’s competition, but really it’s not. We wear helmets just the same, but we’re in the spring and they’re in the fall.”
“We’ve seen a lot development and growth in our program, we’re getting football players come over all the time,” said Wise.
Like Madlax long stick middie Jack Morgan.
“In football, I wasn’t getting very much playing time,” Morgan said. “So, I had an opportunity to play here and I hopped on it and I loved the sport.”
“If more people actually watched and learned how to play they would love it, too.”