With a love for playing lacrosse turning into a passion for teaching the sport, the 41-year-old Powell is at Ross N. Robinson Middle School this week as he runs the Rhino Lacrosse Camp.
“It is the fastest growing team sport in the country, especially on the girls’ side right now,” said Powell. “And the boys’ game is on the rise.”
The TSSAA voted in December to sanction the sport for boys and girls, moving it into the spring rotation for the 2020-21 high school season. Tennessee became the 25th state to formally sanction lacrosse.
“The game is becoming more accessible for more people,” said Powell. “The school funding will provide things like bus rides to games, uniforms, and helmets. It’s not the cheapest sport.”
Lacrosse is growing at the college level, too. In 2019, three Division I schools — Utah (men), St. Bonaventure (men) and Kent State (women) — joined the lacrosse ranks. The increase in interest means more scholarship opportunities.
And Powell said professional leagues are growing, too.
“When I played, the maximum salary was $30,000,” said Powell. “But it’s getting to the point now where people are making a full-time living at it.”
Powell said he’s content simply to be a fan of the pro game these days. He said he doesn’t miss playing.
“I’ve been there and done that,” Powell said of a 12-year professional career and two appearances on Team USA. “Looking back on it, I have a very accomplished career. I don’t really get an itch to get out there and play anymore.
“I enjoy what I do now, giving back to kids and trying to teach the next generation of players. My body has gone through a lot over the years, and I have three kids now.”
Lacrosse is a physical sport, Powell said.
“There’s definitely more hitting. You can knock people down, and you can lower your shoulder. There are three or four defensemen at any given time. They have six-foot poles and they’re trying to get the ball away. You have to make an attempt to go for the stick, but there are lots of checks on guys’ arms and stuff like that.”
Powell’s camps span the country. He was in Flagstaff, Arizona, last week, and will be in Portland, Oregon, next week. The Kingsport camp drew 40 participants.
“It’s really a coast-to-coast thing, and it is going really well,” Powell said. “The business model is to go to emerging markets and develop lacrosse camps. I plan on offering week-long camps for years to come.”