I still can vividly remember going to the ONLY retail store that I knew had somewhat of a decent lacrosse section in NYC – Paragon Sports in the Union Square section of Manhattan. Going with my parents down the stairs to the lower level of the store, past the sneaker section and making our way to the corner where we were told the lacrosse section was located. And there it was hanging on a wire shelf grid – a red, plastic, factory strung, Brine Superlight 2 – the first stick I ever owned.
I just finished the 8th grade and along with a VHS tape of the Gait Brothers’ classic video, ‘The Secret of Our Success’ and a copy of Bob Scott’s famed book, ‘Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition’, the Brine Superlight 2 stick were to be graduation presents before heading to high school. I think hanging on the rack there was an STX Excalibur, a Laser Hi-Wall, Viper, Turbo, but I didn’t know anything better, and this Superlight 2 just stood out as the ONE. Along with the stick I also got a ball and I still remember, once officially purchased and out of the store, ripping off the price tag and cradling the ball in the stick while walking, and face dodging the crowd on the busy corner of 19th St. and Broadway. Yes, I did that!
So, when trying to do a very late, personal piece for the portfolio that took me back, I couldn’t help but base it on the ownership of the Superlight 2. But included in the new piece was to also show a different time, a more challenging and cumbersome, yet heavily determined way to keep playing the oldest, continuing team sport on Earth. And those elements consisted of another classic Brine Lacrosse product, a pair of beaten up L-35’s with the floating cuffs off, the palms cut out and taped fingers holding it together.
I wanted the pose to be of a one-handed cradle, which to me symbolizes the readiness of facing an obstacle with a sheer directness of purpose.
The pencil stages starting it off:
The stick wasn’t going to be the factory strung, off the rack-like pocket, but the wide-strung, 6-diamond style with two nylon shooters and a single hockey lace below. The leathers were to dangle loosely from a single tied knot. The foam ball stop was to be very worn from repetitive catching and cradling, and taped down onto the sidewalls to be secured towards the throat. The shaft was to be dented and bruised with a candy cane-like tape job.
The first marks and lines of ink, blocking it in:
The most time consuming part was cross-hatching a great amount to really create a beaten up and weathered look on all parts illustrated. This is where being tedious as an artist and very authentic as an athlete was kicking in.
The final stages were made when you knew that you couldn’t do any more and anything else was useless, or just plain overkill. This piece done was not to solely highlight a personal moment in my time, but really a stage in the game that resonates with a specific crowd. The name of the piece given, ‘Old School Tough-2’ was due to it being only fitting as a second version of a possible series in this genre.
Looking back at this drawing I am reminded that my lack of knowledge in purchasing a stick did not interfere with my developing a high passion for the sport. And that stick, while it may not have been the best stick, was probably the best purchase - a gift - that started it all. I am proud to still have it with me to this very day.
All images © Vincent Ricasio of The Art of Sports, LLC.