Male High School lacrosse player achieves success, breaks down s - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Male High School lacrosse player achieves success, breaks down stereotypes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Male High School lacrosse player Kris Stone stands 5'9 and weighs about a buck 75.

"You don't have to be the biggest person on the field. You don't have to be the fastest person on the field. You can have different attributes that contribute to the game," Kris said. "Basically the objective is to get the ball in the back of the net."

In lacrosse Stone is solid as a rock. "I play midfield and faceoff," he said. "I feel like I have a purpose when I'm out on the field."

Stone stumbled into the sport four years ago as a freshman at Male High School.

He says a friend on the team forgot about a practice and it forced him to tag along.

Stone found himself playing which shocked his mom, Karen Stone, who thought it was just another phase.

"At first she was like...lacrosse?" Kris remembers.

Karen offers up a laundry list of Kris' previous extra-curricular activities. "Karate -- I bought a gi and he never went back. He played T-ball one day and didn't like it. They were yelling at him. Diving, he was mad, because they weren't teaching flying squirrels."

But Kris stayed with lacrosse. He trained hard, watched films and immersed himself in the sport. "It's just a very fun game that I love to death," Kris said. 

Soon he was playing lacrosse year round at camps and on club teams, gaining quite a reputation.

"Very, very reliable faceoff guy. You could give him the ball on the offense and rely on him to make something happen, get an assist, draw a slide or score a goal," said Joseph Palazzo, the lacrosse coach at Male High School.

Kris stuck out, in more ways than one. "In summer and in club I was the only black kid on the team," he said.

"Often, kids would say 'lacrosse, brothers don't play lacrosse,'" Karen said.

"I heard that plenty of times," Kris recalls.

"That's one thing that made him apprehensive. He thought that people would notice him because he was different and if he made a mistake, then they would remember him," Karen said.

"I think one things that helped was just my lacrosse community giving me the support," Kris said. 

His teammates saw talent. They named Stone team captain his sophomore year and MVP in 2015. This year, he earned all district, all state and a spot as a U.S. High School Lacrosse All American.

He holds the highest faceoff rate in Kentucky, winning nearly 80 percent of his matchups.

"That was one reason for the success of our program. There were games we'd score five or six times in a row and their offense wouldn't get a touch," Palazzo said.

"Definitely an underdog story coming from a public school not known for lacrosse," Palazzo said.

"I wanted to leave something for Male," Kris said. 

As the 2016 Mr. Kentucky Lacrosse, Kris leaves behind a legacy at Male. He's the first African-American ever recognized as the top player in the state. "When they called my name, in all honesty my knees buckled and I was completely stunned. It was a great feeling," he said.

He'll etch his place in the record books again this fall in Lexington as the first African-American to play lacrosse at Transylvania University.

The Division 3 program can't give athletic scholarships, though coaches made sure Stone, who's entering the school with a 3.7 high school g.p.a., scored a full ride. This means $40,000 a year for four years.

"And more than anything, I was so grateful that someone took a chance on him," Karen said.

"This kid had never heard of the sport. All it took was hard work and dedication," Palazzo said.

Coaches, friends and family say Stone's story should inspire the community.

"You can open doors, not only for African-American kids, but to those who are socio-economically disadvantaged," Karen said.

Kris Stone, the accidental athlete, who stumbled into lacrosse, and landed on solid ground. "Work as hard as you can. If you love it, don't let what people say affect you. I love the game, I'm going to college for free and earned highest honors in Kentucky," Kris said.

"Keep working and leave a legacy," Kris added.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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