Grow the Game®

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SPIRE Academy is proud to celebrate the lacrosse program’s extremely successful inaugural season, where the team made it to the MSLA C Bracket Championship game. This is a remarkable achievement, especially for a new team. Led by dedicated coaches and staff, SPIRE’s Lacrosse program effectively blends diverse talents while building a culture dedicated to excellence.

Lacrosse Head Coach JD Harkey recently shared some insights into the team’s progress so far. He emphasized the importance of mental fortitude, attitude and communication in developing elite student athletes. Working closely with Zac Bruback, Director of Mindset Development, Coach Harkey highlighted the significance of having a strong mental approach in order for the team to achieve physical success. He praised Assistant Coach Nakeie Montgomery for his detail-oriented coaching style and dedication to helping players excel on and off the field. “He is a tough coach [in his own right]. [We both] acknowledge that there’s no singular right way of doing something, but he will take the time to dissect the situation and explain why there may be a better way. He currently plays at a high level himself…I wanted somebody that our athletes can look towards as somebody that’s been in their shoes relatively recently.”

Assistant Coach Montgomery, a prominent figure in the lacrosse community, expressed his enthusiasm for being part of the SPIRE family. He told us, “I want us to be the best team in Ohio. No doubt we want to be the best program in the state, but we want to be able to compete nationally.” With a focus on player development and team cohesion, he aims to position the academy as a leading contender in Ohio and beyond. He also highlighted the important role that the school’s summer camps play in recruiting talented athletes and showcasing SPIRE’s phenomenal offerings, saying, “Our camps are great. If you come to our fields in the summer, you’ll see a bunch of the best coaches and just the best lacrosse players come out here for it.”

SPIRE is also privileged to have Kyle Harrison, a distinguished SPIRE ambassador and National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, involved in the program. Harrison’s extensive experience means that he brings a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to the team. Coach Harkey remarks, “He’s a mentor to me. He’s not somebody that I’m calling on weekly, but I’ve definitely brought him in and asked him for advice throughout the year. Advice for myself, advice for the team, etc. I wouldn’t even be here without him.”

In a recent interview, Coach Harkey elaborated on how SPIRE’s new lacrosse program is preparing student athletes for collegiate play. He emphasized the importance of skill development, teamwork and self discipline in shaping well-rounded athletes ready for the next level of competition. Harkey himself went from playing for the UMBC Retrievers to coaching at the University of South Carolina and eventually at SPIRE, showcasing his deep commitment to the sport and player development. “There’s a handful of things that we’ve done this year and I intended to do year over year. One is having an opponent that requires us to get on a plane and fly to them. There are small skills built into that, it’s not just fun trip with the team…you have to figure out as an individual how to handle your emotions while traveling, how to handle sleeping [on the road], nutrition – ‘Am I packing snacks for myself that are appropriate to prepare me to be an effective athlete?’, school work (being honest with yourself) – ‘I’m not super effective doing work on the road…I’m going to be more proactive about getting work done before we even leave.’…all those things are imperative as a college student athlete.” There is truth to the process, as senior Camden Moody made history as the first lacrosse player to commit to a university to play collegiately – he will be attending Limestone University to continue developing what he has learned at SPIRE.

Furthermore, SPIRE places a strong emphasis on cultural diversity, with Coach Harkey championing a diverse and inclusive environment. He highlighted the school’s commitment to fostering a multicultural perspective and providing student athletes with a global outlook on the sport and their place in the world. This dedication to diversity extends beyond the playing field and is focused on ensuring diversity within the coaching staff and the broader community at SPIRE. Harkey told us, “Our school as a whole is pretty diverse. I want to keep building on that. I was adamant about making sure that we had diversity in the coaching staff and diversity in the adult community for all the students to look up to.” The SPIRE Lacrosse program stands out for its commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, providing its student athletes with a global perspective on the sport and their place in the world. The coaching staff and the teachers at SPIRE all work hard to prepare these student athletes for college both athletically and academically.

As the team finishes up its outstanding inaugural season, it’s creating a supportive and competitive atmosphere where the athletes can work hard and reach their full potential. With a strong emphasis on teamwork, skill development and cultural awareness, SPIRE’s Lacrosse program is gearing up to leave an outstanding impression for years to come.