If you haven’t noticed, lacrosse sticks are everywhere these days. Why? Because everybody’s playing it. Not just private schools – public schools, clubs, youth groups and more.
The popularity of lacrosse has soared in the last five to eight years, according to Rodney Cornell, manager of LAX World Store at Merchant Circle in Gainesville, partly due to people being able to see games on cable stations and online. “The growth of the game has definitely spread,” he said.
If your child has just begun playing lacrosse or has asked you if he or she can join a team, you will need to know what kind of equipment is needed and how to use it properly, and your first step will be finding a retail outlet dedicated to lacrosse.
Cornell makes outfitting kids properly for the sport his business. “Our big thing is customer service,” Cornell said. “It’s what sets us apart from Dick’s and Sports Authority. Our staff is very knowledgeable.”
Big-box stores might sell lacrosse sticks or balls, but store personnel (if you can find them) might not know much about the sport. Cornell himself started playing Lacrosse in fifth grade, and for the last 15 years has remained an active participant in the sport, coaching at the high school varsity level as well as managing the store. “Most of our employees either play, have played or coach,” he said.
Club teams in the Gainesville area start at the under-9 level, and players need to provide their own equipment. Depending on the league in which your child competes, the equipment requirements may vary. Standards include gloves, arm pads, shoulder pads, mouth pieces, shoes, goggles and helmets, which must be properly fitted. Rib pads are often recommended for players as well, and goalies must wear additional protective gear.
Cornell said high schools sometimes provide limited equipment such as helmets, but players are generally responsible for most of the other costs, which are higher for men, since they are required to wear more protective gear.
Uniform standards can sometimes be strict as well, requiring numbers on shirts to be a particular size so that they are easy to see. Your lacrosse outlet should be able to properly fit your children for their equipment, because if the fit isn’t right, their safety can be compromised. A store that sells uniforms as well can provide a one-stop-shopping experience for you, making everything easier.
LAX World sells the full line of equipment and uniforms to all kinds of teams. “Our local store here caters to lacrosse players starting with youth all the way up to college,” Cornell said.
And don’t let the cost of equipment frighten you away from allowing your kids to try a sport that may turn into a lifetime love.
“The main hurdle lacrosse is trying to get over is that it’s a privileged-kid sport,” Cornell said. “Everyone is making huge strides to get the game out and make it more accessible to everyone.”
To that end, LAX World works with manufacturers to keep the costs and prices of equipment down, keeping the sport in reach of more families and thereby aiding its growth.
Make your children’s experience with lacrosse the best it can be – by making sure they are wearing the proper equipment and staying safe.
LAX World, at 7956 Crescent Park Dr., Gainesville, is open seven days a week and serves players throughout Prince William County and beyond.