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Saturday, March 13, 2010

What's Wrong With This Picture?

This picture was taken from the current Nike Team Catalog. I features a model wearing the new Backbreaker uniform, which debuted late last season. Virginia wore the uniform in last year's championship tournament.
The problems with this photo are unbelievable. This creates the perception that Nike has no clue about lax despite being one of the leaders in the uniform biz and a recent player in the equipment biz. Right away I questioned why he is not wearing Nike gloves and pads, but decided that they may not have been ready at the time of the shoot, despite the Zoom shaft and Dunk head.

Here is what I noticed right away:
  1. Johns Hopkins logo on the gloves. Seriously?
  2. Outdated K18 gloves. These gloves had all but been phased out by this time last year. i understand that the new K18s may not have been ready, but G22s or Cells would have worked. Ideally he would be wearing Huaraches...
  3. Nike cleats from three seasons ago.
  4. CLH2 helmet. Seriously?
  5. Black helmet with navy uniform. Name a D1 program that would do that.
  6. Are those STX Chopper pads?
Please add anything else that you see.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Update: Under Armour to Lax?

When I wrote this about a year and a half ago Under Armour had barely dipped its toes into the sporting equipment water. Their shoe line was in its infancy, their lax and baseball cleats were brand new, their soccer cleats were a mere twinkle. Most importantly, they had yet to sign the man that has become their poster boy in the literal sense.Already sponsoring a number of NCAA Division I lax teams, Under Armour made a deal with Alleson Athletic to make their stylish uniforms available for youth, high school, and club teams over the summer. This deal should also lead to replica football and lax jerseys being available sooner rather than later. Once this happens, UA's share of the sportswear market will surely skyrocket.
UA also secured its first professional soccer kit deal with Hannover 96.The company is also outfitting the national rugby union team of Wales. They continue to steal NCAA programs from Nike (helped by the Alleson deal).I mentioned Maverik as a potential acquisition or partner should UA decide to begin making lax gear. Interestingly enough, Rabil endorses that company as well. But that might be a mere coincidence, right? Under Armour may make great apparel and sick shoes, but they are no where near ready to slap their logo on gear, right? Wrong.Under Armour has released a line of baseball catcher equipment. Included are chest protectors, shin guards, traditional & hockey style masks, and batting gloves. From what I can gather, the catcher gear is made under license by All Star.Does this baseball equipment truly suggest that UA may move into other equipment markets? I think it does. I can easily see a similar deal being made with Maverik Lacrosse. It would not be too terribly dissimilar to the deal between Nike and STX...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Growth of Lax in Des Moines Continues

As the regular readers know, a group of guys from Drake University fielded a team in the inaugural box lacrosse league. Most of the guys had some experience with field lacrosse and were happy to be playing again. As the league wrapped up, the group started thinking about fielding an official club team.

Valley Coach Zach Zielonko's experience as both a player and coach at Kansas State gave the Drake guys some basic knowledge of the MCLA. I gave them the contact info for the league, Iowa, Iowa State, and a gentleman that helped found the program at Cornell College. They then set out to recruit and file the paper work.

Ben Shoff, the man behind the effort, has been helping with the Valley practices. He informed me on Monday that their efforts to establish the club are going well. They have around 18 guys already; most will return in the fall, including Shoff. They have even found a goalie on campus, something they lacked in the box league (Ithaca graduate Jason Fasulo played the pipes for the them this year).

Having passed the first round of approvals, the school senate is set to vote later this week for full approval. This vote determines whether or not the lacrosse club will be recognized as an official school club and eligible to use the Drake Bulldogs name, logo, and colors. Based on the school's actions thus far, Shoff is confident that they will be approved.

Shoff said the club is leaning toward the MCLA which would give them the option of joining Iowa State in the Upper Midwest Lacrosse League or Iowa and the school's biggest rival, Creighton, in the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference.

Because of cost considerations, the team is also looking into the Great Lakes Lacrosse League. Wisconsin fielded three teams in the league through last season before joining the MCLA this year. The Badgers still have two teams in the GLLL. The league is primarily in Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Michigan Peninsula, but North Dakota is also a member (having moved from MCLA). The regional set up is more cost effective.

Regardless of which league the Bulldogs join, the team will have the full support of the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association. This is just one more step in the establishment of lacrosse in Des Moines. Hopefully Drake's team helps inspire more high school and/or college club teams in the metro.
As a Drake alum, I couldn't be happier. I only wish I had the funds to properly equip the team...

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Impending Death of Brine Lacrosse?

Does anyone else get the impression that New Balance may be phasing out the Brine name?
If you've watched any games this season you have no doubt seen the New Balance commercials featuring Chaz Woodson. They are technically New Balance/Brine ads but really only spotlight the NB logos on his Machine uniform (nice to see they are using that on TV!), socks, and shoes. NB now has a lacrosse section on their site and have launched lax cleats with NB branding. They are still producing Brine equipment, but are definitely cross marketing it with NB stuff - especially on the NB site. This is leading me to believe that the Brine name may be on its way out in favor of the larger NB name. In hockey when Nike bought Canstar they did the same with Cooper. Reebok did it with Jofa & Koho. Warrior did it with both Innovative Hockey and Montreal. Harrow did it with Christian before later selling the Christian brand. Easton seems to be doing it with Talon in lax as well.

My theory is that NB is doing that because they want the larger name to be part of lax in order to compete for new customers against Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Easton. With those brands so well known outside of lacrosse, they hold the major advantage when it comes to new players from non-traditional lax areas. Why not take advantage of the well known New Balance name and iconography by combining it with the technology and reputation of Brine? The New Balance name definitely has significantly more oomph than Brine internationally and outside of lacrosse.
NB is definitely keeping the Warrior line active. Not only are both the hockey and lacrosse divisions performing well on a consistent basis, but they have just launched an athletic shoe line under the brand. By combing NB's reputation for quality with edgy Warrior looks, the line looks very promising. I see the Warrior/New Balance lacrosse relationship being similar to that of CCM and Reebok in hockey in the near future with the Brine name lost to history like Koho & Jofa.

But where does this leave Brine on a larger scale? Will New Balance remove the brand entirely? This could give the NB name a strong foothold in other large markets, especially soccer. It will definitely be interesting to see this play out...

Tribe 7