Kyle Hartzell picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time his freshman year of high school. Since then, he has dedicated his life to the sport and plans to do so for the rest of his working days.
Hartzell grew up in Dundalk, Md., where he was also played soccer and basketball. Then one day the high school lacrosse coach convinced him to try out for the lacrosse team, and he never looked back. A top defender in college and now in the pros, he got his start playing attack. That continued through high school until he went on to the Community College of Baltimore County – Essex. The team needed midfield help and Hartzell stepped up. For two years he excelled as a defensive midfielder. He played so well that he was able to transfer to perennial Division III powerhouse, Salisbury State University, where he won a pair of National Championships and earned third-team All-American honors.
Hartzell went on to play professionally for Major League Lacrosse’s San Francisco Dragons his rookie year and played last season for the Washington Bayhawks. He signed with the Stealth last summer as a free agent. In the outdoor game, Hartzell’s speed and nose for the ball made him one of the top ground ball guys in the league. Despite never playing indoor lacrosse and the fact he “didn’t know much about the indoor game,” that knack for the ball translated well with the Stealth. In twelve games played, Hartzell collected 86 loose balls (they call ground balls loose balls in indoor) last season.
“It really helped to have a great group of guys that were willing to help me along,” said Hartzell of his Stealth teammates during his rookie season. “Last year everything was new to me, but thanks to the older guys, I have a much better grasp on the game going into this season.”
Aside from his accomplishments playing the game, Hartzell says his true goals in life are about growing the game at the youth level. Two of his friends, Josh Porcell and Terry Kimnner, started a lacrosse instruction company called Rogue Lacrosse ( www.roguelacrosse.com ). Porcell and Kimnner both play in the MLL as well and Hartzell joined them and Rogue as a member of their professional staff and runs camps, clinics and private lessons for the company.
“It’s really just about giving back to the kids,” said Hartzell about Rogue’s goals. “It just started last summer with some individual lessons and really started to take off. Now we are trying to reach out to as many young athletes as possible and give back to the game that gives us so much. We’re shooting for the stars.”
Rogue has branched out to a number of different areas across the U.S. They are holding a fall ball league in Saratoga, N.Y., and have recently announced camps in Chantilly, Va., and Jenison, Mich., in November. “We aren’t limiting ourselves to one area of the country. We’ll go anywhere kids want to learn; east coast, west coast even another country.”
While Hartzell’s career goals off the field are in full swing, he still has some time to accomplish his goals as a player in what is a bright young career. Maybe the photo above will help him get a sponsorship deal with his favorite pre game ritual. You can meet Hartzell this weekend as he makes a number of appearances in the Puget Sound region. He’ll be at Breakaway Lacrosse on Oct. 17, and at clinics in Everett and Redmond Oct. 18. Stealth teammate Chris O’Dougherty will join Hartzell at Breakaway Lacrosse and the Everett Clinic. O’Dougherty will then meet up with the Tacoma Youth Lacrosse Association at University Place Cirque Park from 2pm-4pm.
In the meantime, here’s a Q&A with the second-year defenseman that will help you get to know Kyle Hartzell.
1. How did you get your start playing lacrosse??
KH: My high school coach, coach Latona convinced me to come tryout.
2. What other sports did you play growing up??
KH: I played soccer, and basketball
3. What are your hobbies outside of lacrosse???
KH: Getting this company Rogue Lacrosse started that me and my buddies Josh Porcell and Terry Kimnner started. We put on clinics and camps, we also do individual lessons, so we are pretty busy with that.
4. Last year was your first playing indoor. What were the biggest adjustments you had to make??
KH: The biggest adjustments were adapting to a new game that I have never played before. Indoor is a different animal compared to the outdoor game, but having guys like K1 (Kyle Sorenson) and Hodge made it a lot easier to pick up. Everyone on that team chips in and helps out a lot.
5. What is your greatest lacrosse memory??
KH: winning the 2007 national championship.
6. Do you have any pregame superstitions??
KH: Me and the Man Ram (Brett Manney) crush 5 hour energy, they should sign us for promotions a lot of that gets used in the locker room.
7. What are you looking forward to most this season with the Stealth??
KH: Can’t wait to get back together with the guys, and start preparing for the upcoming season and making a run to win this thing.
8. What?s playing on your ipod right now???
KH: Jay-z Blueprint 3, Kid Kudi man on the moon
9. You are stranded on a deserted island. What three items do you bring with you and why???
KH: 1. My dog mason to keep me company and if things get real bad use him for a source of food.
2. Sloan from Entourage. Enough said
3. Cable Television, and my XBOX. These two help with killing time and blowing off some steam.
10. What goals do you have for the rest of your lacrosse career?
KH: I want to become one of the best to play this game outdoor and indoor. I want to win championshipS!