By Dan McWilliams
The fourth annual Knights Cup Lacrosse Tournament at Knoxville Catholic High School, set for Thursday through Saturday, April 25-27, will feature an NAIA conference final-four tournament as well as plenty of prep and youth action.
“Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in East Tennessee and the entire country,” said Knights Cup organizer Tom Ciaccia. “There has been an explosion in participation at the youth level the past few years that is reflected by new high school teams coming online every year.
Sports fans who have never seen a live lacrosse game should come out to Knoxville Catholic and experience the fast-paced, hard-hitting action in what is known as ‘the fastest sport on two feet.’
“The Knights Cup is an excellent and inexpensive opportunity around which parish ministries, especially those serving the youth in our community, can organize a group outing. Parishioners, as individuals or groups, can come out to Knoxville Catholic and have a great time while assisting the children and families who are served by this event.”
The Knights Cup “is an expanded event that will feature youth, middle school, high school boys and girls, and championship college action in a three-day showcase of highly competitive lacrosse at every level of participation,” Mr. Ciaccia said.
The NAIA Independent Conference Final Four Championship Lacrosse Tournament will be played Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, at KCHS. Independent Conference teams include Missouri Baptist University of St. Louis; Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design; Lindenwood University of Belleville, Ill.; Keiser University of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Robert Morris College of Chicago.
“The success of the first three Knights Cups was instrumental in bringing the NAIA Independent Conference Final Four Championship Tournament to Knoxville to be part of this year’s event,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “The conference, which includes colleges from Missouri, Illinois, Florida, and Georgia, will be sending its four highest ranked teams to Knoxville to compete for a place in the NAIA national championship tournament the following week.”
This is the third consecutive year the Knights Cup has brought collegiate lacrosse to Knoxville in an event that will include six high school games with girls and boys teams, a middle school tournament, and several games among youth lacrosse organizations.
Teams will be coming to Knoxville from Memphis, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Roane County, and Blount County.
“For the first time since the beginning of the Knights Cup in 2016, girls high school lacrosse will be added to the event with a doubleheader on Thursday, April 25, that will be built around the Knoxville Catholic senior-night activities,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “The Roane County Lady Knights, West Knox Warriors, CAK, and KCHS will participate in the doubleheader with youth teams from Knoxville Youth Sports and Farragut Youth Lacrosse playing at halftime of the two games.”
The Knights Cup has attracted increasingly larger crowds each year as lacrosse continues to experience growth in Knoxville and East Tennessee. Each year, more high schools in Knoxville and Tennessee respond to this growth by adding lacrosse to their varsity athletic programs. In 2021, the TSSAA will recognize lacrosse as a sanctioned varsity sport in Tennessee.
“The Knights Cup is organized by Knights of Columbus councils at Sacred Heart, All Saints, and Our Lady of Fatima parishes,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “As has been the case since the Knights began these athletic events back in 2004, the proceeds from the event benefit the wide range of child and family services provided throughout the diocese by the Catholic Charities of East Tennessee Office of Pregnancy Services.
The first three Knights Cup have raised close to $30,000, and with the addition of the girls doubleheader and the NAIA championship tournament, we expect the 2019 Knights Cup to be the most successful of the 16 events we have put on since 2004.
“The extraordinary work that is done by [CCET’s] Sandi Davidson and her staff and cadre of volunteers goes to the very core of what we believe in as Christians. This is an event everyone in our community can get behind. The Knights expect to continue these events for many years to come.”
The schedule of events at Blaine Stadium on the campus of KCHS is: Thursday, April 25: high school girls—5:30 p.m.: Roane County vs. Christian Academy of Knoxville; 7:30 p.m.: West Knox Warriors vs. Knoxville Catholic High School; Friday, April 26: NAIA Independent Conference Final Four Championship Tournament semifinals—6 p.m.: seed 2 vs. seed 3; 8 p.m.: seed 1 vs. seed 4; Saturday, April 27: youth, middle school, high school boys, NAIA Independent Conference Championship— 8 a.m.: youth lacrosse and middle school tournament; 10 a.m.: Collierville High School vs. Christian Academy of Knoxville; noon: NAIA Independent Conference Championship game; 2:30 p.m.: middle school tournament championship game; 4 p.m.: Boyd Buchanan High School vs. West Knox Warriors; 6 p.m.: Roane County Knights vs. FCA Chattanooga; 8 p.m.: Blount County Lacrosse vs. Knoxville Catholic High School.
“Youth and middle school games featuring teams from Knoxville Youth Sports, Farragut Youth Lacrosse, Sacred Heart Cathedral School, CAK, Roane County Knights, Hardin Valley, and Kingsport will take place throughout the day on Saturday, April 26,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “The youth and middle school games are an attractive feature of the Knights Cup as lacrosse fans can see the progression in skills and quality of play as the kids move from under-7 to middle school competition.
“Fans coming out to the Knights Cup are always impressed by the intensity and quality of play at the middle school level. The skills and knowledge of the game have developed to the point where kids at that level put on some highly entertaining and exciting games.”
Information on being a Knights Cup sponsor or game program advertiser can be obtained at the event website, http://www.knightscup.org, or by contacting Tom Ciaccia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-765-4046.
Tickets are available at the event website and at the gate during the event. One ticket is good for all games over the three-day event. Discounted advance purchase tickets for individuals and groups are available at the website.