This article appears in the March edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, featuring a special 14-page section on innovation and innovators driving the sport forward. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.
Warrior Sports’ foray into soccer didn’t last long, but it did leave a lasting impression on president and founder Dave Morrow.
In 2011, New Balance, Warrior’s parent company, sent Morrow around the world to bone up on the beautiful game and prepare to launch kits in 85 countries. He marveled at the sport’s simplicity and ubiquity.
“I saw it played at the highest levels and I saw it played in the most underprivileged areas you could possibly imagine,” Morrow said, “people taping up garbage or a bag of sand and playing with it like a hacky sack.”
Morrow, whose invention of the lightweight titanium handle in 1992 as a junior defenseman at Princeton became the genesis of Warrior, concluded that the complexity of the stick was holding lacrosse back. He envisioned Warrior’s Warp technology, featuring knitted pockets made of polypropylene, as the disruptive force needed to get the sport growing again.
By removing the frustration of hand-stringing mesh pockets and providing an off-the-shelf product that performs consistently regardless of weather or one’s stringing expertise, Morrow contended, more kids will be inclined to toy around with a lacrosse stick the way kids in Central America juggle soccer balls in the street.
“Our sport isn’t easy enough for the regular person to enjoy,” Morrow said. “We’ve got to step back and make the stick easier to play with and as idiot-proof as possible.”
“To play lacrosse, you can’t just enjoy the sport,” Morrow added. “You have to know all these peculiarities of stick stringing. I believe the complexity of stick stringing is preventing the availability of lacrosse.”
How serious is Warrior about the Warp platform? The capital investment in the machinery alone was $4.5 million. Employees refer to a production and testing facility in Sterling Heights, Mich., as “Warp City.”
Warrior unveiled the Warp Pro ($179.99) in 2016 and came out with the Warp Next and Warp Junior — youth and starter sticks priced at $99.99 and $69.99, respectively — in 2017. A women’s Warp is on the way in 2018, as is a rec stick.
“This is the year this tech platform breaks through to the mainstream,” said John Gregory, director of brand marketing at Warrior.
Said Morrow: “2018 is going to be the year of the Warp.”
New models of the Warp Pro include the Reg Max for defensemen and an addition to the Burn line endorsed by New York Lizards and three-time Team USA midfielder Paul Rabil. U.S. teammates Rob Pannell and Tucker Durkin are fronting the Pro and Reg Max, respectively.
“It’s a daring product that many people say breaks with tradition,” Rabil said of the Warp in episode 2 of The Lacrosse Network’s “Forward” series. “The same could have been said about the titanium shaft.”
Morrow likened the Warp’s potential impact in lacrosse to that of the oversized racket in tennis, cavity back iron in golf, the composite stick in hockey and the aluminum bat in baseball — all innovations that made those sports easier to play.
As part of a partnership with US Lacrosse, Warrior is providing Warps to kids who attend select Lacrosse Athlete Development Model clinics.
“This was the first time I have seen kids be able to throw accurate passes consistently within minutes of having a stick in their hands,” said TJ Buchanan, technical director for athlete development at US Lacrosse. “The Warp has significantly reduced, if not removed, one of the most frustrating parts of entering the sport.”
By: Matt DaSilva of U.S. Lacrosse Magazine; repost by Todd M Schoenberger