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Men’s Lacrosse: Four-year starter Kemp stars, provides leadership in net

Ellyn Michalak | Tuesday, April 15, 2008

As the season rapidly comes to a close, senior captain Joey Kemp reflects on his experience as a four-year starting goaltender for the Irish and looks forward to the opportunities available in the future.

“My experience with my team has been great.  There is nothing like playing the sport you love with forty-five of your best friends,” Kemp said. “The camaraderie that we share can’t be replaced.”

A two-time All-America honoree, Kemp was named the 2007 Great Western Lacrosse League player of the year. He currently ranks first in Notre Dame program history in career goals-against average and holds a .618 save percentage and 26-11 overall record. This season Kemp’s effective goaltending skills have allowed his team to maintain a 7-2 record and a No.11 national ranking.

Kemp has been a crucial member of the Irish squad since his freshman year when he relieved senior goaltender Stewart Crosland in Notre Dame’s narrow loss to Cornell. The Potomac, Maryland native appeared in all 11 games that season, and with nine starts, Kemp was named the Great Western Lacrosse League rookie of the year.

“My favorite Notre Dame memory would have to be my first start.  We were playing in front of nearly 10,000 fans,” he said. “The atmosphere was incredible.  We won the game 9-7 and to get your first career victory against a team with such rich lacrosse tradition as North Carolina is something I won’t forget.”

Kemp cites both his brother C.J., the 2002 GWLL player of the year for Fairfield, and his hometown as strong influences on why he began to explore the sport.

“I started playing lacrosse in 2nd grade. My older brother played goalie so like

any other younger brother I imitated my older brother,” Kemp said. “Lacrosse is very popular in Maryland, especially the area that I live in.  It is very common to see kids

throwing the ball in the front yard or shooting on a goal after school.”

After discovering his natural ability for lacrosse, Kemp attended Georgetown Prep, the No. 1 lacrosse high school in the nation. There, Kemp competed in lacrosse, hockey, and football, and lettered in all three sports.

Upon graduation, Kemp had a tough decision to make – Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, Georgetown and Loyola University all served as quality education and lacrosse options for the nationally recruited goaltender.

“Since as long as I can remember, a family friend always told me that I would be a great fit at Notre Dame,” Kemp said. “He said I would fit in academically, athletically, and socially. That immediately got me interested in the school.” 

Kemp also said that he chose Notre Dame because of the sincerity and integrity of the coaching staff and academic support staff.

As a finance major graduating in May, Kemp faces another crucial decision point in his life. Despite several job offers, Kemp remains undecided about his career.

“I have had several offers for a job next year but have not accepted one yet.  I would have had to relocate if I were to accept any of the offers and I am attempting to stay in the DC area,” he said. “I also do plan to continue playing lacrosse.  The MLL is a great opportunity that I believe I will be lucky enough to be granted.”

The Major Lacrosse league began play in 2001. There are now 10 teams nationwide-six of which are located in the east coast area.

As for now, Kemp remains focused on the rest of the season. The Irish hope to perform well enough in the remainder of their games this year to earn a bid into NCAA Tournament.

“We expect to win the national championship, it is a mindset that we have taken on,” Kemp said. “We know that we are going to have to work hard for it and a championship won’t be handed to us, yet we as a team believe that a national championship is a realistic goal.”