Rob Kemp remembers watching his dad, Bob, on the phone, while he counseled parents of other players as their kids began careers in competitive college lacrosse.
Bob Kemp certainly had experience. The Potomac man and father of seven (six who took part in college sports) was a college football player at the College of William & Mary. He fell in love with lacrosse as his sons took up the sport. Two played for the University of Notre Dame.
“All of these players were the No. 1 players at their high schools. Then they get to a major college program and they’re all No. 1 players. A lot of parents can get confused by that and it’s tough for them to accept,” Rob Kemp said. “He consulted and consoled a lot of parents over his 15 years involved with the program.”
It’s one of the reasons Bob Kemp, who died of a heart attack in May 2014 at the age of 63, became so entwined in the men’s lacrosse program at Notre Dame, which will take part in the first annual Bob Kemp Lacrosse Classic next month at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda.
The game, set for Oct. 11 at noon, will pit the Notre Dame and U.S. Naval Academy lacrosse teams against each other in a fall scrimmage. Afterward, there will be a free clinic for youth players featuring players from Major League Lacrosse.
The day before, the Notre Dame lacrosse team will attend a watch party for a Notre Dame football game in Washington, D.C. The event is open to the public and proceeds will go to scholarships for underprivileged students at the Washington Jesuit Academy, one of Bob Kemp’s favorite causes.
The Kemp family is organizing the event and hoping to tap into Notre Dame’s vast local alumni network to support it.
“We always had kind of thrown out ideas, trying to figure out what we could do to honor him,” C.J. Kemp said. “He loved private schools and he loved the religious aspect of it. He also loved helping out kids.”
C.J. Kemp played lacrosse at Fairfield University. His brothers Joey and John played at Notre Dame. His sister Liz swam for the University of Florida, his sister Julie swam for the University of Miami and his sister Erin swam for Towson University.
Rob was the only kid not to play Division I sports, though he knew how respected his dad was among other sports parents.
After Bob Kemp died, parents from New Jersey, Ohio, New York and closer to home remembered a man who loved to share stories about his family at tailgates and on the sidelines.
“He was a role model for all of us as a parent, husband and friend,” one commented on an online story about his death.
Charley Toomey, head lacrosse coach at Loyola University in Baltimore, said he got to know Bob as a “classy man” with “a wonderful family.”
“Though I never had the chance to coach a Kemp son, I will always cherish the friendship that was created through the recruiting process with Bob,” Toomey wrote.
The lacrosse team at Notre Dame placed stickers on its players’ helmets with the initials “BK” to honor Kemp after his death.
“That shows just how much they thought of him,” Rob Kemp said. “He was a pretty respected guy.”