Premier Series Lacrosse is back for year 2, and we covered the teams, schedule and more, HERE, so now we can talk about what improvements the PSL box lacrosse league has made going into year 2. It’s a process to build any league from the ground up, and a big test is bringing on sponsors and partners. How is the PSL doing in that regard?
PSL Box Lacrosse – Year 2 Sponsors
Uncommon Fit is back as the official uniform supplier for the league, and it’s always good to see a Year 1 sponsor come back. Under Armour has also stepped in as a partner, and the league will now offer player discounts on equipment and other gear through their retail partner, lacrosseloft.com. Mogul Mesh is also getting on board, and on top of all that, the PSL is working with us, LaxAllStars.com, to shed a little more light on the league. We’re not a sponsor or partner, but we ARE interested in Growing The Game, whether it’s box or field, so we thought it was wise to support the growing and improving PSL.
Let’s dig into each of these partnership deals a little deeper.
Lacrosse Loft – Dan Sullivan
1. How did you get into the lacrosse equipment business?
As a lacrosse enthusiast and having two children who play lacrosse who represent both genders, I noticed a vacuum in lacrosse specialty dealers. Because both my children play goalie, I quickly saw the need. The traditional box stores in my area didn’t provide the items that were being pursued by higher end, serious lacrosse players.
I teamed up with the world famous Cookes Skate Supply in Wilmington, Massachusetts to establish a lacrosse specialty store within their hockey and figure skating business. It is a great benchmark to have Cookes involved due to their reputation in both hockey and figure skating. They have been servicing world class athletes since 1963, and their customer service is what separates them from anyone else. I strive to be the “Cookes” of lacrosse. We are a Veteran owned, family business that exemplifies the customer service aspect.
2. Talk about the message of lacrosse, PSL, the dedication to raise money for veterans, and the importance of giving back:
I use my store not only as a specialty stringing and equipment store, but I use it as an opportunity to help all my customers understand about the true meaning of the “Medicine Game.” This shows the history of the Creator who gifted this game to the Haudenosaunee. It is also about the sacredness it holds for the Iroquois Confederacy who demonstrate what lacrosse really is.
I try to dispel the myths associated with lacrosse being a privileged prep school sport. I want to show the true healing roots and inclusiveness of the game. Lacrosse is beginning to explode in the Boston area, and I consider myself as a guardian of the game.
The PSL is a great example of the true nature and intent of the game. Their decision to support Veterans issues and to gather some of the greatest indoor players to participate is truly amazing. This is a classic example of the medicine game where the players are playing for the veterans on a macro level. They are playing for each other, their communities, countries and most of all, for the Creator.
As a retired Iraqi Veteran, I am deeply touched and honored to be part of this league going on my second year. Giving back to the soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors who have sacrificed greatly defending our way of life is simply gratitude in my opinion. The giving that I have witnessed for veterans usually comes from organic beginnings where an individual is touched and grateful to the point of being pro active to help where maybe institutional help falls short. The whole board of the PSL falls into that category of gratitude, and they are a great example to others on many fronts that extend beyond lacrosse.
3. Talk about the need for a box store with variety and how the right equipment can make or break the game:
With the growth of field lacrosse, indoor lacrosse (or box) is beginning to get noticed as well. Being that it [box lacrosse] is primarily a Canadian sport many Division I coaches are recruiting box players from Canada to fill their field rosters. The U.S. players are taking notice of the advantage of training in the box and how it transfers to the field.
With that comes some equipment that is unique to the box. If a player doesn’t have good rib pads and arm guards, chances are their experience will be less than stellar so the importance of properly fitted and age appropriate protection is key. This is especially for a player who is just starting out.
We offer the top box equipment for players from McKenney Sports, Under Armour, and Traditional Lacrosse from Akwesasne. Box goalies have to have their equipment just right. It is crucial to avoid serious injury. Properly fitted and age appropriate protection is the key to keeping people safe.
4. What about the need to make US box competitive so we can compete with Canada and the Iroquois?
As the awareness for box training increases, there is more talent being discovered here in the U.S. that probably wouldn’t have been seen five years ago. We are seeing an increase in lacrosse in non-traditional areas like Arizona and Georgia, so the game is growing. Box, I believe, grows on the heels of field here in the U.S. As the game grows, the U.S. will become stronger in competition with the other top nations. Just like in hockey, with the right training and movement at the youth level, the U.S. could definitely compete.
5. Explain your involvement with PSL and how that ties in with the need to grow the game:
Lacrosse Loft is the official equipment supplier for the PSL. We offer PSL players special pricing on gear that is not available outside of their community. I am in constant contact with the PSL and many of their players to supply them with all their needs including equipment repairs. By allowing players to have a “go to” person, it can help them get on the floor, which helps grow the game.
I have had many new players who are contacting me to suit them up because I make it affordable for them. Like I mentioned previously, the true roots of the game is giving back to the community and this helps to “grow the game.”
This is my medicine– when I can help contribute to honor and grow the game. To me that is what is special about lacrosse. There are so many ways to honor the game that go beyond suiting up and ripping twine. Some make sticks, like Alfie Jacques, some train kids in the love of the game, others organize worthy causes through lacrosse, like the PSL. At the end of the day it comes down to the fusion of charity, hard work, community and athleticism all through the greatest game ever created…lacrosse!
Uncommon Fit – PJ Martin
1. As a sponsor AND a player in the league, please talk about the PSL a little bit and what it means to play…
The PSL is a great league concept for players in the Mid-Atlantic area. There are not many places to play traditional box lacrosse around, especially in the fall, and in supporting/playing in the league I am hopeful it will introduce box to many young post-collegiate players. It is a vehicle to grow box, which I have come to love as my favorite form of lacrosse.
2. What made you want to play lacrosse in the first place?
I started lacrosse in 8th grade at the Peddie School. That fall I watched a very talented group of upperclassmen make an epic undefeated run, never trailing in a game– “The Class of 1996.” Watching those guys was my first introduction to the game. There were several future DI captains and All-Americans on that team. It was so exciting and inspiring to follow their season, game-in and game out. I was hooked. Several of those ’96ers became teammates in the post-collegiate club world both as players and coaches, and a few are among my best friends and business partners.
3. How do you balance sponsorship and playing?
I balance it with help. Being a sponsor and player can make for a tough event day, but with the right team of people – it is smooth. I’ve got no issue being impartial in terms of playing, guys in the other jersey will get a hard pick at some point, and I expect the same in return – figuratively speaking – for the most part.
4. What advice do you have for young players?
Be a learner, and play a lot. I only started playing box 5-6 years ago. There is so much to learn about box that requires a different mentality. When/When not to shoot in transition, how to attack/defend space, the moving pick, these all create a more open minded field player once they enter the box. The biggest key, like anything, is repetition and having the PSL for new, young box players to learn is gift that I did not have a decade ago when I graduated college.
5. Is lacrosse still a weekend warrior sport, or has the culture change a little?
I do lacrosse year around, full time. It has changed, and continues to change. It’s more serious, but it’s also improved in terms of play and quality. I’m all for it.
6. What about the need for more box in the U.S. so that USA can be more competitive in box internationally? Do you have any thoughts on that idea?
As mentioned before – the skills and techniques used to play as an individual and team in box present a wide array of tactics that you don’t see often in “American Field.” The quick decision making, small goals, and physical nature of the game demand something that field does not require. Being simply bigger, stronger, and faster can get you a long way in field. It certainly helps in box; but a high level of skill must be present in order to be a very good box player. Playing field alone is a thing of the past. In a few years, every decent lacrosse player in the U.S. will be playing box lacrosse.
7. How does your business fit in to this future growth?
Uncommon Fit has been in a great position as box takes further hold around the world, outside of Canada and Upstate New York. We sponsor men’s box events in Europe and in the U.S. which allows us to connect the small men’s box community in a unique way.
By providing standout team apparel, along with other facets to make for a more enjoyable event – we hope to spread more passion for the emerging box lacrosse lifestyle that is separate, but also joined to the culture of field lacrosse. Our number one goal is to see box grow. If the game grows, our core business will grow. It goes hand and hand – we have an invested interest in providing and encouraging more young lacrosse players to seek out quality box experiences and hopefully their team gets geared up in our kit!
Along with this we sponsor a few teams, our house team the Uncommon Fit LaserSharks which plays domestically, and also the Megamen who travel to Europe every year to play. In having these teams we can also invite players to compete in other events we do not have involvement in throughout the year. The only way for box to grow here at home in the US is for guys to play!
Whether is it Premier Series Lacrosse (PA), the Ales Hrebesky Memorial (Prague, Czech Republic), The Sin City Box Classic (Vegas), The Eagle Challenge Series (NJ), or the LaxAllstars North American Invitational (Syracuse) we hope to see players out and about engaging in this great version of the sport.
Mogul Mesh will offer up award packages for all of the PSL game MVPs. While this is seemingly a smaller deal, it shows well for any league to think of their players, and find ways to honor the best and fairest from each game. Players always love a nod, handshake, and prize pack when they ball out, and this is another good way to reward the guys making the effort to play.
UA gear is sold through Lacrosse Loft, and obviously UA makes NLL caliber gear, so the idea of supporting the PSL with gear discounts made sense. UA gets more exposure as a trusted box company in the US, the PSL gets a major lacrosse brand on board, and players get better equipment for less money. Win, win, win.
While none of the improvements or sponsorships are truly ground-breaking, they do show that the PSL is improving, changing slowly, and gaining momentum. With their first series of games now in the books, the PSL is moving right along nicely this year.