Founded nine months ago by Scott Wilson, KHAOS Elite has grown from a group of about 13 players to a team of 50 fielding girls lacrosse travel teams for the under-13, under-15 and under-19 age groups.
The U15 team, which consists of rising freshmen and sophomores from Allatoona, Kell and Harrison, as well as other schools from outside Cobb County’s borders, recently received an at-large invitation to compete in the U15 national championships, which begin Monday in Aurora, Colo.
The 28-team field includes teams that finished in the top four at four various regionals. KHAOS, which practices at Kennesaw Mountain, was unable to participate in a regional, but based on its reputation, it received an at-large bid to nationals and will take on teams from as far west as California and Washington, to as far north as New York and New Jersey.
“This team has been unbelievable,” said Wilson, who coaches the 20-player U15 team. “They’ve been wearing other teams out. These girls are all starters or all-stars on their own teams, and they’ve come together and worked so well as a group that I think they’ll make some real noise in Colorado.
“The whole team is like one big clique, and the chemistry they have as kids being from all over metro Atlanta is unbelievable.”
Sporting a 25-2 record with tournament victories in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, Wilson found out about the national championship and contacted US Lacrosse to see if there was a way for his team to enter the event in Colorado.
“We couldn’t make any of their regional championships because of our schedule, so when I asked how we could qualify, they told me that we were already on their radar because they heard about the tournaments we had won,” Wilson said. “Those were US Lacrosse-sanctioned tournaments, so they told us about the at-large bids, and since we had done so well at their sanctioned events, they gave us one of the bids.”
Elite won’t be the only Georgia team competing at nationals. Nine-time high school state champion Milton will have two travel programs competing under the Eagle Stix name.
“We’re becoming one of the best states in nation for lacrosse,” Wilson said. “Everywhere we go, people are talking about lacrosse in Georgia.
“We’ve gone out and looked to play the best competition we can find, and we’ve done pretty well. We don’t expect to see anything different at nationals than we’ve played already. We’re going to have fun and represent Georgia and do the best we can to bring home a championship.”
The first games begin at Monday morning and will continue through Wednesday championship, which is slated for 2 p.m. local time in Colorado.
“We’re going to head out there (today) and practice a couple of days to get ready for the altitude,” Wilson said of the mile-high elevation of the Denver suburb.
Wilson’s daughter, Bailey, a rising sophomore midfielder at Allatoona, admitted to being a little nervous about playing for a national title, but she’s looking forward to the opportunity.
“It’s really exciting, but I feel we’re just as good as anybody else there,” she said. “(College) coaches usually look north for players, but traveling with this team, they’ll get to see us and see what we have to offer them.”
Kaitlyn Lehman, a rising freshman at North Paulding, sees it as an opportunity to learn and become a better player.
“To play the game and see the different skill levels, and learn from the opponents we play, helps our games a lot,” said Lehman, who plays attack, midfield and defense. “It’s exciting to play for a national championship. We’re going in as underdogs, but we want to win.”