The first and last stop I make at every convention I go to is to the booth run by stick maker Alf Jacques. If I had my way, the sheer history that he always displays on two humble tables would be enshrined behind glass at the Smithsonian.
I like to linger for awhile and watch as adults and children alike pick up the dilapidated crosses. Alf Jacques and his son are purposefully quick to explain the history of each stick.
I heard Alf’s son say to a young player in a freshly signed jersey. The boy wasn’t sure whether to squeeze it tighter for safety, handle it more delicately, or to put it down altogether.
“It’s ok, hold it and enjoy. That’s why we brought them [here],”
Jacques said to calm the boy. They both smiled at each other, and a true service was done for our ancient game.
For those of you who can’t make it to the US Lacrosse National Convention, I wanted to bring you a look at some of the sticks Alf brought out to the 2017 event. Each stick is worth getting to know individually, so I will revisit this collection from time to time on LaxAllStars. The purpose of today is simply to share a quick look.
Nearly 100 years old, this wood lacrosse stick was older than everyone in the Baltimore Convention Center expo hall that day. Notice how the top lip has begun to lose its bend, a common issue that curses older sticks.
The organic string and dry rotted gut wall are in remarkable condition. Without the label, it could have easily been mistaken for many other sticks on display that were only half its age.
I am always drawn to a wooden stick that carries a brand name which still exists. This Brine woody is an important piece to have on a table to act as a link between the modern and wooden eras of lacrosse sticks. You can see the fiberglass repair near the bottom back bend of the crosse… Back in the day it was better to fix a well-balanced stick than to try and find new one.
Any Alf Jacques collection is always well-curated. If there is any information pertaining to the origin of the crosse, it is written on a tag.
Sadly, a lot of information about old wood lacrosse sticks gets lost. People will often call my WoodLacrosseSticks.com customer service line and ask me to identify the artist who made their stick. Truth be told, I fail more often than I succeed. Prior to Patterson and the artists who worked during his era, there is little documentation on stick makers.
This stick above, which we might as well call “the David James,” has a unique three-leather pocket. The pocket is patched with a hodgepodge of random string scraps where the organic string has snapped.
On a personal note…
My journey as a stick maker reached a major milestone at the 2017 convention. I made two box sticks for my teachers, Alf and Jack Johnson, as a sign of respect and appreciation. These mentor sticks were well-received and their approval, in many ways, confirmed that I am taking the right path. I’d like to thank the lacrosse community for your support!