Jonathan Stevens, owner of Bigfoot Lacrosse, has been a staple in the state of Oregon for more than 20 years. But this summer, he will be looking forward to a new chapter in his life.
“Honestly, I never expected to [own Bigfoot] this long,” Stevens said.
This month, Bigfoot Lacrosse will leave its physical location to be replaced by Lacrosse Northwest, which will use the space as a lacrosse training facility and retail store. It will conclude more than 15 years of Bigfoot Lacrosse operating a storefront.
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Stevens has been the man behind Bigfoot the entire time, and we all know him as its owner, but who is Jon Stevens?
“I’m just a boy who refuses to grow up,” he explained.
Stevens discovered lacrosse at age 12 in Pittsford, New York. One day after track practice, he walked into the gym and saw some kids playing with a weird-looking stick.
“I saw them playing with a stick, and I decided to start playing in ninth grade,” he said, “and like most people who see or pick up their first stick, its over.”
He fell in love with the game.
“The coolest part was where it came from…the Creator…playing to appease a higher power, that’s what makes lacrosse so different and special,” Stevens said.
While attending Syracuse, he was in awe of the Gait brothers.
“People say the St. Louis Rams were the greatest show on turf, but [the Gait brothers] were the greatest show on turf,” he explained.
After walking out of the Dome one day after a game, he promised his friend that if he ever went into business, it would be to open a lacrosse store.
Years later and after moving to Oregon, he realized there wasn’t a place where players could easily go get gear, and he knew lacrosse would take off. Stevens still had the idea of moving back home to New York and opening a store, but that eventually evolved.
“Why be the third guy in Upstate New York with a store when I could be the first in Oregon?” he said.
With Oregon being Sasquatch central, he figured Bigfoot would be a great name for the store. It helped that he already had an idea for the logo, too.
Over the last 20 years, Stevens has seen the sport grow to new heights in the state, and the rest of lacrosse in the country is taking notice, too.
“Oregon isn’t Long Island or Baltimore, but Oregon kids are making impacts at high-level programs,” Stevens said. “These kids aren’t just on rosters. Tucker Dordevic is the star midfielder at Syracuse, Ross Scott was starting as a freshman at Rutgers…Oregon is on the map.”
Since its inception, Bigfoot Lacrosse has been a huge part of the lacrosse community in Oregon. Not only has Stevens had Bigfoot, but he has also been a coach and was even a part of the Portland LumberJax TV broadcast. But its the coaching and storefront where he has truly left his mark.
“I think Jon has been one of the most influential people in the state for the growth of lacrosse,” said Whipsnakes defender Colin Squires, who hails from The Beaver State. “Jon always has a smile on his face and is truly passionate about growing the game. I’m not sure where the sport in Oregon would be without the decades of service he put in at Bigfoot.”
Even though he receives high praise from the local community, Stevens knows it’s not all his doing.
“I deflect to the coaches who are out there making it happen,” he explained. “The growth of the game came from [the coaches] who stuck it out.”
One thing Stevens will surely miss is the relationships over the years Bigfoot Lacrosse has created. Even with all the struggles owning a business can have, there were plenty of moments that made it all worth it.
“I am never going to remember the financials,” he said. “What I’ll remember is the kids; watching them not know how to pick up a ground ball as a kid to making varsity and going to play in college. My manager started at 16 and is now 34 with two kids. He went from a troubled kid to one of the most respected coaches in the state of Oregon. This game put him on the right track. I watched it happen with several kids.”
The memory of Bigfoot Lacrosse won’t disappear. The store will have new ownership and be under a different name, but the Bigfoot brand will live on. Stevens still plans on making merchandise with the Bigfoot logo – it will just have a different purpose.
“Formerly a retail outlet, currently a vibe,” Stevens remarked as of his ideas for the brand.
Stevens looks forward to his next challenge in life. He’s always had the desire to take on a bigger role in coaching.
“The appeal of taking on the challenge as a head coach has always been on my mind, and it’s hard to do that as an owner of a store,” he explained.
He knows that he can truly have a bigger impact on the game now that he will have more time on his hands. He hopes to be coaching and running camps to help grow the game to new heights, or maybe it’s traveling the country and writing about lacrosse as writing has always been a hobby of his.
“I loved Anthony Bourdain,” Stevens said. “I could be [him] in lacrosse, riding my motorcycle and telling stories about the game.”
From myself and the hundreds of people whom you have impacted over the years, thank you for all that you have done, and we wish you nothing but success in your next chapter of life.