November 1, 2010

Lifestyles: Q&A with Ben Quayle

by Paul Krome | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Former Duke middie Ben Quayle (left) is the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Arizona's 3rd Congressional District. He's pictured here with his wife, Tiffany.

If it’s possible for the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle to enjoy some anonymity, Ben Quayle may have had that when he walked on to the Duke men’s lacrosse team in 1995.

It didn’t last long, as he helped the Blue Devils to their first final four two years later. Now the former walk-on is making a run for Congress. Quayle, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Arizona’s third congressional district, will face off against Democrat Jon Hulburd on Tuesday.

Quayle took a few minutes to stump with LM for the November issue, which hits US Lacrosse members in time for Election Day. Don't get the mag? Join USL and its 300,000-plus members to start your subscription.

What was it like growing up as the son of the vice president?

It was interesting. I experienced things a lot of people don’t. Sometimes it was difficult to be in the public eye. But we had a lacrosse goal on the front yard of the vice president’s residence, and we got more comments on that from tourists and visitors than anything else.

Did you have Secret Service agents with you in school?

During conflicts like the Persian Gulf War they stayed with us on campus, but mainly they just took us to and from school and other scheduled events.

When did you first start playing lacrosse?

Organized lacrosse in the sixth grade, in a youth league in McLean, Va.

What attracted you to it?

I played soccer and basketball growing up. I liked the fast-paced nature of lacrosse, and there was a physicality in lacrosse that wasn’t in soccer. I took to it right away and never looked back.

Fondest memory?

Had to be our win over Johns Hopkins in the 1997 NCAA quarterfinals to get to the final four for the first time. What an exciting game. I think we scored twice in the final seconds to tie it up and then won it in overtime (12-11). That was just a great experience.

How’s the lacrosse scene in Arizona? Do you still play?

I don’t play much. There is a men’s league in Arizona that I have played in. But between work and life and getting older — and I would take much longer to recover. There are some good players here in Phoenix. One kid (Hunter Rodgers) is now at Hopkins. We’re starting to put out some good players. It’ll keep expanding here.

I am trying to get back to some physical activity in morning, although sometimes you want a couple more minutes of sleep. Playing a sport in college, you’re constantly active. That’s engrained in you. I’d like to get back to that, but it’s been tough to squeeze in. Going on nice long runs is the best stress relief.

Do you still go to games or perhaps the final four?

I didn’t go this year. I went to Duke’s final four in Philadelphia in 2005. Growing up, we always went to the final four at Byrd Stadium.

You’ve been an attorney and a business owner. Why decide to get into politics?

I was really fed up with the direction our country is heading in. For the last few years, even when the Republicans were in charge, we’ve lost our way. If there was ever an opportunity to go in and make positive difference and to be willing to put up with the negative side of politics, it’s worth it to get the country going again.

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from your dad?

Always stay true to core values and beliefs, and don’t apologize for them. You have to stand up for them, even if you get criticized. At the end of the day, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and know you did the right thing.

What’s a typical day like leading up to the general election?

Very, very busy. We’re constantly on the go, meeting people and getting in front of people as much as possible, listening to their concerns. It starts with breakfast around 7 a.m. and then there are meetings or events all the way through 9 or 10 at night. Then back home, trying to stay abreast of the issues.

Still have your stick?

I do. It’s an old, battle-tested STX. Think I got it after college.

If you win, will you build a wall outside your office for practice?

I don’t know if the Capitol Hill police will let you do that. There’s not much time for a member of the House to work on stick skills anyway, although mine certainly need it.

What lessons from lacrosse do you still carry with you today?

Hard work and perseverance. Talent only takes you to a certain level. Then it’s a matter of working hard, practicing, developing your skills — that makes you a better player. I’ve applied that to my professional life. And certainly competition. Just striving to succeed, that can transfer off the field.

Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) is a former University of Maryland lacrosse player. Do you know him? Would you challenge him to a faceoff outside in order to settle a legislative debate?

I did not know that. My faceoff skills aren’t any good. But I’ve got another former Terp on my staff (Patrick Howell), so I’ve proven I can put ACC differences aside.

Any campaign pledge you can make for lacrosse fans?

I will continue to be an ambassador for the sport. It’s a tremendous sport, and I’ll do what I can to continue to help it grow. It’s a great way for kids to get involved in physical activity.

Bigger rivalry: Duke/North Carolina or Republicans/Democrats?

Duke-Carolina. It goes from lacrosse to basketball to football. We were just so close on Tobacco Road. Even out here, when we talk to folks about where we went to school, if it’s Carolina folks, we still talk with some tension.

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