David Beckham, Tracy McGrady, Reggie Bush. These names are synonymous with Adidas. Long known for producing high quality soccer gear, the Trefoil also produces (American) football cleats, gloves and uniforms. Their purchase of Reebok made them the exclusive supplier of the NBA and WNBA. Their baseball cleats are said to be some of the best on the market.
Now Adidas has entered the lacrosse world. Unlike their corporate sibling Reebok, Adidas is not making their gear in-house. Instead they have licensed their brand to the Henson Group, who also makes Adidas wrestling gear. Of course Adidas actually produces the footwear for both sports, Henson merely makes the uniforms and actual equipment.
With a growing number of colleges and universities choosing Adidas as their official athletic supplier, one would assume that their schools would begin using the new lacrosse gear as well. Notre Dame is the only Adidas sponsored school in NCAA Division 1 lacrosse. They wear Adidas uniforms and footwear but still use gear produced by Brine (owned by competitor New Balance). Without a major program using their equipment, Adidas is having a hard time establishing itself. Many hardcore laxers question the brand and claim that its gear is overpriced, uncomfortable, and poorly constructed.
Adidas/Henson seemed to have listened because their initial line of heads was retooled for the 2009 season and the early reports indicate that they are significantly better than last year's offerings. They have also sought to increase their reputability by signing professional standout John Grant Jr to endorse their gear. Another bold move came when Adidas lured Michigan away from long time athletic supplier Nike. As part of the deal, Adidas agreed to outfit the school's MCLA lacrosse team with uniforms and gear! Keep in mind, this program is technically a club sport and not a varsity program with scholarships.We are very fortunate to be sponsored by Adidas. Our players receive the same Adidas custom apparel that Michigan football players and every other varsity athlete receive. We wear Adidas shoes, and we wear Adidas uniforms. We are slowly making the switch over to Adidas equipment as it evolves, but our longtime equipment partner is Warrior. All equipment is provided.
While outfitting a club may seem fairly insignificant, it should be noted that Michigan is one of the perennial powerhouses in the MCLA and the defending national champions. On top of that, they are one of the most marketable schools in the nation; their all-purpose fan base stretches from coast to coast. Their visual presence helps add credibility to the Adidas lacrosse equipment. It also gives Adidas an opportunity to field test their equipment in real games with top notch lacrosse players (granted they are not necessarily Hopkins or Syracuse caliber) whose feedback will only lead to improvements.
At this time I would have to say that everything indicates that Adidas is not yet producing lax gear worthy of its price tag. However I have not had an opportunity to try it on, let alone use it. I do believe that they are the right track to become a major player in the next couple of years. When Notre Dame's contract with Brine is up, expect them to switch Adidas gear. Once that happens, their credibility will shoot through the roof. Given the resources of Adidas and Henson, I expect the gear to evolve rapidly and contribute greatly to the spread of lacrosse.
All gear pictured is from the AdiStrike line.