Did You See That?!: Lacrosse Equipment Innovations

Jim Rogash

From woodies to plastic to an actual cannon?

Do you read this site's fancy pants links post every day -- "Lacrosse the Internet"? You should; it's kind of the most important thing ever written on the Internet. There are all kinds of good stuff in that daily piece, and rather than watch it exist on the periphery, I'm going to make it even more important than it already is: Every day I'll pull out a story from the links post and expand a little upon it. It's called "Did You See That?!" and it'll happen as long as I remember to write it.

Link Post: June 13, 2013
Story: "Who Made That? The Magazine's 2013 Innovations Issue," New York Times Magazine

I'm not a "gear" guy. This isn't necessarily because I find gear uninteresting; rather, I'm just not enthralled with the pace of innovation in lacrosse equipment. Chrome facemasks, fancy stringing methods, super dry fit uniforms -- blech! Where's the true innovation? I'm talking about stuff like this:

That's taking equipment to the next (very dangerous and likely illegal) level. Until then, the industry is still taking incremental steps from the change from an open, wooden stick head to a closed, plastic one. Which is kind of an interesting story in and of itself:

Every lacrosse stick that Dick Tucker ever played with — every lacrosse stick anyone ever used before 1968, in fact — was made of wood and almost certainly by a Native American hand. An all-star midfielder at Johns Hopkins in the early ’50s, Tucker took a job after college with a Baltimore company that sold urethane-foam products. He and a couple of lacrosse buddies working there sensed an opportunity to industrialize the lacrosse stick and enable the sport to spread.

* * * * *

With the help of a staff chemist, Tucker’s team designed the Model 73, and in 1970, the Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association’s rules committee narrowly approved it. Within a year, Tucker says, the stick had “100 percent of the market.” Every goal in the 1971 N.C.A.A. championship, he adds, “was scored with one of our sticks.”

It seems kind of crazy that a major innovation in lacrosse equipment involved, in part, closing an open loop. The plastic revolution? Well, I have one word for you:

Sure, things have changed since the introduction of plastic heads -- heads are heavily pinched, stringing has changed, offset technology has come into play, etc. -- but, really, how far have sticks heads come since the design and debut of the '73? That's what makes STX's somewhat logical decision such a game changer: Despite how much players and the game itself have changed over the years, everything is still derived from the genesis of the '73 -- the birth of that head allowed for offset technology to come into play, for the development of non-wooden shafts, and for different approaches in stringing pockets. There simply hasn't been a development as important as the '73; the developments since 1970 all owe, in some form or function, their creativity to the '73.

STX just decided to give this a try and it worked out. It's kind of weird that we take the plastic, closed head for granted, but it's the only turning-point-worthy development in the game in over 40 years. That's . . . that's crazy. Until, of course, someone finally licenses my lacrosse-specific jet pack.

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