A semi-spontaneous trip up to North Adams, with the sleepy, fuel-seeking laxer, Billy Bronx, is where we found a quaint little factory, with excellent knowledge and energy alike, in Stringer’s Shack. With our only nourishment coming from the Cumberland Farms gas station (the only thing with food that was open when we got in), we were in need of refreshment, with which we were provided in many forms at Stringer’s Shack.
Precision as well as proper, high-quality materials were the most important things that I noted when Joe and Ben from Stringer’s Shack showed us around; from Ben, who came from the textile manufacturing business, was a steady stream of history and knowledge, both technical and intuitive, but, from Joe, was how this all translated when you strung the materials into a lacrosse head, and wanted to use it on the field.
Strange and large, yet precise and elegant – both the building and the machines inside. There are no machines manufactured specifically to make mesh, so must be custom built by someone, somewhere; Ben builds his own.
Enough space to breathe and work, but not too much that you felt lonely. With big open windows and windy western Massachusetts weather, we even found time to scurry a flying bird out of a window with a lacrosse stick and even shoot around indoors in an empty part of the factory – pretty massive, too (sorry, no pics).
Some things are just better done by hand; to ensure quality pieces only, the mesh is measured and cut by hand to minimize inconsistencies.
Pressed gently, and hot cut.
Along with doing the things they focus on well, there was some time for experimentation. This shaft was put in some sort of solution and electrocuted to create this rainbow oxidation look – it was originally an old titanium shaft.
Of course, there was experimentation on some mesh. You may have caught it on my Instagram (zenlaxstring) – this piece has stainless steel in it!
FLASH FORWARD: fishline mesh for some wall ball in BK.
Besides chatting shop, we found time for some lunch and, more importantly, ping pong and wall climbing. Throughout the day, though, the tone was lacrosse and we found every opportunity to explore each other’s minds in the realms of mesh and pockets, and how they are used on the field.
During one of these explorations, we found a common bond in Harlem Lacrosse, specifically The Frederick Douglas Academy, so Stringer’s Shack offered them free materials, while Billy, CW and I all donated our time, and we were on to make the workshop happen the next Friday.
Joe and Billy said their goodbyes, we loaded materials and we were off to NYC. (To see what’s in those boxes: www.StringersShack.com)
Riding backseat in a cab, preparing mentally for the workshop, I am thankful to Seth Blaustein, from www.LacrosseGuru.TV, to help me coordinate such an effort as Stringing Revolution. Before coming to NYC and opening myself up to so many new things, it was more difficult to fathom producing a 2+ hour video series that I was fully satisfied with its contents. (Also available on Stringer’s Shack website…shameless plug, but I stand behind its composition.) And to Joel Censer, the newest face to Harlem Lacrosse who helped make this workshop happen, and be filled with such enthusiastic young lacrosse minds.
Once we installed our topstrings tight and symmetrical, we moved onto the more nuanced sidewalls. Here, Phillip (a DOCS NYC volunteer from my 8th grade team) starts to explain how to create tension and a channel for the ball to sail through.
By pulling your mesh down to the side in simulation, you can see how the pocket might start to form.
Then it was time to execute our channel strategy.
Those are some focused eyes right there; the kind ready to absorb and to coordinate with the ears.
Although, sometimes it’s cool to coordinate with your own brain and eyes – think, focus, think, focus, act.
Even though…when you get stuck, having CW to help isn’t a bad thing. The amount of care and precision put into these sticks was astounding.
Billy shows how to make tension in your sidewall.
And shows how you can pull the mesh down, initially, to see how it will effect the channel once interlocked.
If you like the placement, interlock it in place with the right interlock, and you’re on the the next diamond(s).
*sensing someone in need…eyes to confirm*
“Over yonder!” – they said.
“Where?!?!” – I proclaimed.
“Oh, got it, cool, on it.”
A little collaboration to finish up our shooters. Almost ready to touch the earth.
A clear commitment to burnt string ends.
And getting the shooters right, with a little help from one of my DOCS NYC players.
With NO frayed tips…we made sure of it.
After working out our minds in the workshop, we took the court for some trash can lax and sprints.
And, as they say, what goes up, must come down. When you’re looking up, you don’t really notice the down so much.
Again, a big thanks to Harlem Lacrosse, Jake Klein, Joel Censer and all the boys, for having us up at their school, to Stringer’s Shack for providing the materials and to LaxAllStar’s Connor and Billy, and DOCS’ Stuyvie and Phillip, for helping to teach the workshop – I think everyone had an awesome time!
If you want to learn to string, pick up a Stringing Revolution DVD at Stringer’s Shack along with your mesh, or check out Lacrosse Guru for a streaming option. And, remember, #stringyourown and own your pocket destiny.