The Unimaginable: Lacrosse Training in Bentonville, Arkansas — home of Walmart
By Allan Rabil
An Interview with Coach McDaniel of Ozark Mountain Lacrosse
He was deployed three times to overseas duty after enlisting in the Army. That span of 8.5 years took him to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Germany. Yet, Coach David McDaniel of Verified Club Ozark Mountain Lacrosse, remembered one thing his youth coach Carl Mitchell told him, “no matter where you go in the world, you will always find lacrosse.” So, when David went to Germany, he met his Officer who was a former Towson, MD goalie who told him, “go find your stick when you return.”
An intense love for lacrosse blossomed during his service overseas. He brought that passion back to the states. When he retired from the service in Northern Virginia, he told his wife, Kori, he wanted to explore Arkansas. The Californian mother of four to be, went hesitantly, and they settled in the beautiful plateau area of Bentonville, Arkansas - home of Walmart! The journey for this coach is as significant as the next generation of Arkansas lacrosse players.
“When the Verified club Ozark Mountain Lacrosse, contacted us, we had little idea we would send the world’s #1 player, Tom Schreiber, to do a clinic with over 80 players in Bentonville,” said Rachael Dececco, Director of the PLL Academy. Coach McDaniel put it this way, “The enthusiasm of the 7 high school feeder teams, the TV spotlight, and the excitement of having the PLL fly Tom Schreiber into the home of Sam Walton’s start-up was amazing.”
When we asked how he is growing lacrosse in Arkansas, Coach informed us that there were two key reasons. First, lacrosse is not a staple in the middle school sport’s programs. Thus, Coach McDaniel started the Ozark Mountain Club from K-12 to build a feeder program into the high schools. Second, the community of 7 High School Coaches agreed to form the first Arkansas High School playoff season to promote a state champion. “We built it from the ground up, and so far, it is working,” responded Coach McDaniel.
Below is a video link to the TV coverage on that day in Bentonville, AR. Coincidentally, Bentonville is the home of Sam Walton’s Walmart, which is the key distributor of our 'PLL Mini-Sticks' — which allow many an affordable entry point to learn the game. Today, we are sure Sam Walton is smiling down on his home-town and that lacrosse community in Bentonville, Arkansas.