How Lacrosse Sticks Have Evolved How Lacrosse Sticks Have Evolved

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Before mass-produced plastic, all lacrosse sticks were hand carved in the Native American tradition.

Pieces of wood were cut from a hickory tree, dried, carved, straightened, bent, curved, sanded and drilled — all by hand — to become lacrosse sticks.

It took Alfred Jacques, nicknamed “The Stickmaker,” nearly 10 months to complete one stick. While he and his father would make about 12,000 a year back in the 1970s, that number diminished to only around 1,200 per year. That can be attributed to when his father passed and around the same time that a large amount of plastic lacrosse sticks started being produced.

Traditional wooden lacrosse sticks were made with wood and leather, while modern lacrosse sticks are made with plastic, metal and mesh. The plastic head was introduced in the 1970s, and mesh in the 1980s.

The sport of lacrosse was brought to colleges in 1877, but you will not see anyone in college using wooden lacrosse sticks today. The modern, plastic lacrosse sticks are what you will see because they are less likely to break on impact.

Although the sticks have changed over the years, their connections to their players have stayed the same.

“People are very in tune with their own personal sticks,” David Limbouris, a Tama Lacrosse employee, said. “A lacrosse stick is a very personal item. Everyone’s got their own unique stick, and people feel attached to their sticks.”

Limbouris saw Jacques many times in the store, where he would get supplies from time to time. 

Players like Cole Kirst appreciate the art of Jacques’ work in today’s modern game.

“I’m so used to using factory plastic head metal shafts, and he’s able to create an entire wooden stick and string it up through traditional leathers,” Kirst said.

While Jacques carved with a purpose, Kirst plays with a passion. Kirst said his stick is an extension of his body.

“It allows you to be creative,” Kirst said. “All you need is a lacrosse stick and a ball and you can walk around and just dream.” 

Whether it’s a wooden stick with leather or a plastic stick with mesh, lacrosse sticks are the most important part of the game for a player.

It’s estimated that Jacques made more than 80,000 wooden lacrosse sticks in his lifetime. Although he has now passed, his legacy, and lacrosse sticks, will live on in the sport of lacrosse, forever evolving.

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