Editor’s Note: Here’s a little story from our Danish Lacrosse friends on how a bunch of helmets got from Ohio to Israel, with a whole lot of pitstops in between. Hope you enjoy another tale from the Fighting Pastries of Denmark!
For those of you paying attention to the recent 2018 World Lacrosse Championships in Israel, you might have noticed a whole bunch of teams wearing a lot of new equipment and you might have been really impressed by some of the teams’ ‘swag.’
Some people might have also noticed that some teams were getting around in mismatched gear or older models of helmets, gloves and sticks. Getting teams equipped for major tournaments like this is extremely difficult, some teams don’t have the budget to put together anything better, some teams don’t have the connections to navigate the logistical maze that is getting a whole team’s worth of equipment shipped and through customs on time.
Thankfully, we, the Danish Lacrosse Fighting Pastries, found a way to make it work this time. Thanks for some huge individual and team efforts from people who don’t owe us anything at all. Here is just one of many the stories behind getting our team kitted out for the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships…
The Story of a Helmet
How does a helmet, or a whole bunch of them formerly belonging to NCAA Division III Otterbein Men’s Lacrosse, end up in Athens, TN, with the NAIA Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs? The answer: easily! All it takes is an Australian living in Denmark, who happens to play goalie, and who is in charge of finding gear for the Fighting Pastries, and then you add in a generous DIII program, plus a former coach of the Danes, and then a guy who works for a lacrosse-based media company, oh and do not forget to add a referee from Kentucky who drives a Miata, you see… easy-peasy.
This is a story that so many people involved in this great game have been a part of at least once, and if you have not, you will be at some point. The lacrosse community is all in on this simple phrase – “Grow the Game!” The story of this Danish National Team Helmet is a great example of different people coming together around the call to arms.
Being a member of any national team is expensive and time consuming; even the players of the lacrosse superpowers sacrifice much in order to put their country’s flag on their uniform. However for those non-traditional countries, it can be even more of a burden. For the Danes to buy a brand new helmet and have it delivered to Copenhagen, DK it could cost upwards of $300-400 per helmet. Which when added to other equipment, travel, and time off from work really makes the cost of putting on your country’s colours a little overwhelming.
The equation of helping hands:
A goalie who can work angles + Lacrosse All Stars + Otterbein + a janitorial supply company + Tennessee Wesleyan + a ref with a small car = Inexpensive (relatively) helmets for the Fighting Pastries
Where it Began
This all started in 2015 in the lead up to the 2016 European Championships when a former Fighting Pastry, Alex Gorman, got in contact with the crew in Denmark saying that he had a team set of second hand helmets in red and white colours from James Madison High School in Virginia. Alex knew how valuable these pre-loved-now-last-last-last-last-last-last-last-season helmets could be to a program like the Danish national team but the hitch was getting them to Denmark. So the helmets went on a boat which cost around $1,500 for shipping. In the grand scheme of things, that price wasn’t too bad considering how much new helmets would have cost in shipping and import taxes.
Moving on to the 2018 World Championships in Israel, the players are staring down the barrel of $3,000 each to represent Denmark and wearing helmets that are 10 years old and have seen better days.
So, what do you do now?
You want newer helmets, but don’t have the budget for it. This is where the Fighting Pastries used their past experienced with donated helmets and their online reach via a well connected Australian goalie. James Robertson, the aforementioned goalie, put feelers out there to see if it was possible to dig up a newer set of donated team helmets in red and white colours.
If you don’t try, you won’t know.
Mark Donahue from LaxAllStars.com saw the messages asking for red and white helmets and forwarded it on to a friend at Otterbein Men’s Lacrosse who just so happened to have some helmets that fit the description sitting around. Not quite a full team set, but definitely a very great start.
Here was the sticking point, the team didn’t really have $1,500 to put helmets on long haul shipping again and the World Championships were closing in. So how do you get helmets from Columbus, Ohio to Copenhagen, Denmark without sending them?
The only way of doing this is to find people to bring them over individually. Tennessee Wesleyan had just committed to making a team trip to Denmark in the summer to help the Danish put the final finishing touches on its preparations for the 2018 World Championships and an idea was born.
Lacrosse teams need helmets, traveling lacrosse teams need helmets to play in, but traveling lacrosse teams don’t need all the room in their bags taken up by bulky lacrosse gear for the return flight when their bags could be jammed full of Danish delights. The plan meant that Tennessee Wesleyan could bring the helmets, use them for the duration of their stay in Denmark, and then leave them with the Fighting Pastries upon departure. Many birds were killed with one stone.
Mark Donahue and James Robertson were discussing the plan and trying to figure out how to make it work. Mark got the helmets from Otterbein, sanitized them, and stored them at his parents’ house until he could use his father’s work connections to get the helmets to a janitorial supply warehouse in Lexington, KY, for the first step of their onward journey from Columbus to Denmark.
Some of the masks were tarnished and ugly so they were mailed from Columbus to Derek Chew of QuietStorm Custom Wrapz to paint in the matching gold and send down to meet the helmets in the South.
The next step was for Kevin Parker, Tennessee Wesleyan’s Head Coach (and former Danish Coach) to pick them up on a TWU trip to play Asbury University in Lexington. However that fell through so plan B came into effect. Coach Parker contacted a Lexington Referee, Greg Schuler, about bringing them to a game he was doing in Williamsburg, KY. Greg was all in on helping the Danes out, only one issue how do you get 15 helmets into a Miata?!? The answer = you don’t.
Plan C was now in full effect!
Parker’s club team was playing in a Nashville tournament and Schuler was reffing it. Luckily, Schuler now had a car pool with a fellow ref David Pease whose SUV had a bit more room than the Maita. After 460 miles of travel, the helmets are now in Parker’s possession (only another 170 miles to get to Athens)!
So with two weeks to spare the helmets arrived in Athens, TN. They got loaded up with the Bulldogs for the flight to Copenhagen, who went 4-2 in them while in Denmark and only got blood on one! The TWU crew then left the helmets behind and loaded their bags with finest of Danish delights and were off.
But It Doesn’t End There
“What about decals?”, you ask. Glad you brought that up! Of course the story is too easy to have been the 1,200 words above. Those pesky stickers.
The decals were supposed to make it to Mark Donahue before his trip to Copenhagen in April. They didn’t. So once he got back from his trip, he shipped them to Coach Parker, which were supposed to make it before his trip. They didn’t. So they came back to sender and Mark ended up carrying them over to Israel, only to connect with the Fighting Pastries a day before their first match at the World Championships.
Oh well, more forced bonding time with the boys right before a big game never hurts!
The sport of lacrosse is way more than just a game; it is one VERY big family of people who go out of their way to help other family members (even the ones they have never met) in order to grow the game. We hope you get in on a big wild adventure like this sometime soon… or just make one happen!