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#TheGopherProject: Spotlight On Andrew McCrite

This week on #TheGopherProject we grab our Hogwarts robes and head to platform 9 3/4!  I know what you’re thinking “Kevin, this is a lacrosse article, why did you go dork it up?” Well, for one, I am a dork so this is pretty natural.  Two, we are taking a trip to see stringing wizardry. Now, I could have used a Harry Potter reference or gone all Lord of the Rings. It’s pretty apparent that Harry Potter is more popular even though we can all admit Gandalf would so win in a wizardry battle between the two.  It’s only going to get worse from here…..

If you haven’t seen Andrew McCrite’s pockets all over Instagram, you’re missing out.  When I first started planning #TheGopherProject’s articles, Andrew was one of the first people I flagged and set this up with.  Why? It’s such an interesting and different take on stringing. Haven’t seen one yet? Picture it as a Dreamcatcher and Hemp Necklace had a magical transfiguration into a lacrosse pocket.  

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Are these pockets legal?  Nope but that doesn’t impact the fact that Andrew can really string.  

Do they throw shoot well even without shooters?  You bet they do….little known fact, today’s pockets really do not need shooters.  If strung well, they can function without them.

How’s the hold?  As tight as Harry grabs the golden snitch (told you these wouldn’t end)….

So, let’s get some background from Andrew himself!

#TheGopherProject Spotlight: Andrew McCrites

Kevin: Andrew, how did you come up with the idea of doing this?

Andrew: It’s a culmination of my entire stringing career. Every pocket strung makes you a better stringer. I’ve strung a lot of pockets since 2008 and that experience has sparked some crazy ideas. Right when the shooting string rules changed around 2012/2013 I started working for a lacrosse store in Virginia. Thankfully I knew the rules were changing a long time before they were finalized. I stopped using shooting strings all together to figure out the capabilities of the mesh, so I started stringing my sidewalls tighter to create a more defined channel. I quickly saw the benefits of stringing the mesh without relying on the shooting strings to create the channel. That rule change gave birth to the next era of lacrosse stringing. I had unlimited stringing materials and heads to string at the lacrosse store. I started stringing more traditional pockets while emphasizing the performance of mesh. I moved down to Florida several years later so I had no store, no customers, no materials. Just my collection of lacrosse heads! I wanted to string traditional pockets without spending money, luckily I found spools of hemp string. I started braiding my runners and realized that I had more room for creativity with thinner string. In Vero Beach I had no rules, no one to please, just whatever pocket I wanted to string for myself. Last year I flew to Abu Dhabi to visit my parents and I brought some lacrosse heads with me. I had no stringing materials and found whatever I could find around the country. I bought some prayer beads and necklaces because I thought the beads would roll with the ball perfectly. I realized how well the beads could be integrated into the runners without disrupting a smooth release. Once I found nylon string and a diverse selection of beads I had never ending ideas. That was the birth of my Vero Beach Lacrosse pockets!

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Kevin: How long does each pocket take for you to string?

Andrew: I have never kept track of how long each pocket takes me. I string and restring until I’m happy with the pocket. As you’ve seen on my Instagram, I have no problem cutting out pockets if they don’t perform to the standards. Each pocket takes me several hours, usually two stringing sessions. 

Kevin: What is the biggest challenge of stringing these?

Andrew: Initially there were a lot of challenges: how to string a variety of braids, string to use, beads to use, bead integration and placement, stringing patterns. Now the two biggest difficulties after all of these pockets are: the placement of the beads with reference to sidewall holes/ stringing the pocket directly to the sidewall holes (especially in older heads with fewer sidewall holes).

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Kevin: Have you tried a goalie head yet?

Andrew: I have never strung a goalie head with beads. Although I admit I think it would look great, it would take a lot to convince me to string one. Goalie mesh is just too good!

Kevin: Anything else you want the community to know about these?

Andrew: I’d like everyone to know that I just want to honor the traditional lacrosse pockets, which are both beautiful and functional. The pockets I string in Vero Beach are my representation of the beauty of lacrosse pockets. They are strung to not only look great on the wall, but to play with and enjoy!

I know what you’re thinking at this point, “Kevin, where’s your take on this?” Well, for this one, I am going to just let Andrew’s sorcery speak for its self.  Now that doesn’t mean I won’t try one in the future but it’ll probably turn out like the time I tried to put a traditional pocket in clear STX Echo using clear tennis strings (it wasn’t pretty)….

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Thanks for reading this week’s edition of #TheGopherProject on Lacrosse All Stars! Next week we’re going to Slytherin a box pinch into the project…

Use #TheGopherProject on your string ups to earn a future spotlight or string up of the week!