Demma Hall’s “aha” lacrosse moment took place years ago, she said, while playing catch outside with her sister, Madi, and father, Matt.
Hall, now a senior at Century High School, remembers it as being one of the first times she had ever picked up a stick. While learning the fundamentals from her family members, Hall said, she misread a pass and the ball struck her in the head.
That’s enough to send even the bravest little child racing back inside or bursting into tears. But Hall had a different reaction.
“I just dropped my stick and started laughing,” she said. “I think right when I picked up the stick, it was a game that I fell in love with and just picked up right away. … It’s still my favorite sport.”
Hall parlayed that introduction into a standout lacrosse career, one that has her among the top seniors in the country, according to Inside Lacrosse. She enters the 2021 spring season as the nation’s No. 3 ranked player and also finds herself on the Under Armour Senior All-America watch list.
The accolades are nice, she said, but the events that have transpired since Century last won a game are what has Hall more than motivated to get back onto the field.
The Knights won the Carroll County Athletic League championship in 2019 and were gunning for the program’s ninth state title, but South Carroll knocked Century out of the regional playoffs, after losing by 10 goals in their regular-season matchup, en route to the Class 2A crown.
Hall and her teammates didn’t get a chance to play the Cavaliers — or anyone else for that matter — in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and the spring season to be canceled.
“I cannot wait,” Hall said about the Knights’ season opener, which is set for May 7 against Manchester Valley. “Having off last year has actually, I think, driven me insane. Lacrosse is obviously my favorite sport. Even though it’s a shortened season, it’s still something. And I’m so excited.”
That could spell trouble for the rest of Carroll County.
Hall is coming off a 2019 season in which she finished second in scoring in the county with 97 points (48 goals, 49 assists). Hall helped Century go 12-3 and win the CCAL championship (6-0 county) with 48 draw controls and 41 ground balls. As a freshman, Hall netted 50 goals and handed out 27 assists to finish fourth in the CCAL in scoring. She added 54 draws and 35 ground balls.
Hall found herself on a nationwide roster as one of 12 midfielders on Inside Lacrosse’s Preseason All-ILWomen High School Team in March 2020 before the season was canceled a month later. In the fall of 2019, Hall was atop the nation’s Class of 2021 rankings and headlined the ILWomen Young Gun Junior Watchlist.
Other Century players have garnered similar attention in years past, and the program is filled with former superstars who took their skills to the Division I level. Knights coach Becky Groves said Hall’s name belongs with the best of the best.
“It’s really hard to compare them when they’re not all on the same team. But she ranks at the top with everybody else,” Groves said. “The Katie Schwarzmanns, the Hannah Warthers, the Kylie Davises … she’s up there with all of them.”
Groves said Hall’s hatred of losing is comparable to her own, and in sharing that trait the coach can relate to her superstar’s drive and intensity. Hall said she has always displayed an intense style on the field, but knows how to separate that intensity from recklessness.
Her coach agrees.
“She’s a multidimensional player,” Groves said. “She not only can finish, but she can see the field and she feeds [the ball] extremely well. On the defensive end, she’s getting caused turnovers, she’s getting ground balls, and then she can get the draw. So, she really does it all.”
Hall said she has always been described as an aggressive player ― one county coach used the nickname “Demma-lition,” and wasn’t putting her down ― and remembers her and Madi Hall being that way from the start.
“I feel like my sister and I … we grew up feisty in every single sport,” Demma Hall said. “One little push or one little touch would get us going. I feel like it’s just a part of our game.”
With Madi Hall helping Century this season as an assistant coach, the sisters will get a chance to be on the same team for the first time. Hall went from a two-time first-team All-County player to a midfielder at the University of Florida (Class of 2019).
Demma Hall had her college choice picked before she even got to high school when she gave Maryland a verbal commitment. But her preparation for college lacrosse was put to the test.
Hall suffered a back injury during basketball season, colliding with another player hip-to-hip, she said, and played through it before field hockey began in March. Bending to take a shot became too much to bear, Hall said, and an MRI revealed a fracture in her back.
Not being able to play most of the field hockey season was “heartbreaking,” Hall said, but it gave her time to heal and rest ahead of lacrosse. And even with only eight regular-season games, and the unlikelihood of a playoff format, Hall and her teammates are eager to get started.
“I feel like we’ve never been more ready,” she said. “I think we’ve wanted revenge since the day that it ended. … I think we’ve never been more prepared and ready to go. We’re just so ready as a team.”