Go ahead laugh at David Morrow.
College lacrosse fans did initially when they heard Morrow played at a Detroit-area high school. He received a similar welcome when he first ventured onto the lacrosse business scene.
But no one seems to be cracking jokes about this crazy kid from Michigan anymore.
Morrow, 27, the Division I Player of the Year at Princeton in 1993, has become one of the most influential people in world lacrosse circles. Besides being a top U.S. defenseman at the World Championships, Morrow is also president of Warrior Lacrosse, the exclusive equipment sponsor of the national team, which makes its World Games debut tonight against Australia.
"All he's doing is re-doing his college career with lacrosse all over again," said U.S. coach Bill Tierney, who also coached Morrow at Princeton. "He went from who's he as a sophomore to college lacrosse's Player of the Year. And then he went from what's he trying to do with this silly titanium shaft to the sponsor of the world team and maker of the best stick out there. It's amazing."
That's especially true considering that Morrow had thoughts of quitting lacrosse in his freshman year to play hockey.
He had no clue about the Princeton defensive scheme. He hated every time Tierney pointed out his mistakes to the entire team. Yet he decided to stick it out, setting a goal to be a starter by his senior year.
Then something happened when he earned his first collegiate start as a sophomore and was first announced at Homewood Field. Johns Hopkins fans, who had booed all the other Princeton starters, began to laugh.
"I was so embarrassed and just wanted to throw up," Morrow said. "But I played really well that game and then all of a sudden, I said to myself: 'I might be good at this.' "
By his final two years at Princeton, Morrow became the premier defender in the nation, being named Defenseman of the Year as a junior in 1992. He dominated attackmen with a unique blend of speed and a tenacious hockey mentality.
However, his aggressiveness had costly consequences. Morrow bent or broke 25 sticks in one season alone.
His father, who owns a tubing and hosing company in Detroit, suggested that he could make a shaft out of titanium. Morrow took his father up on the offer before the 1992 NCAA tournament and arrived one day at practice with a silver stick.
Guess who was the brunt of everybody's joke that practice? But the Princeton players soon changed their minds when they tested how the stick compared in durability and weight.
Morrow credits his overwhelming performances during the Tigers' 1992 national championship run to the titanium stick.
"I'll never forget watching the tape and hearing the announcer yelling, 'How's he able to run at a full sprint with a long pole and score that goal?' " Morrow said. "It was because my stick was half as light as everybody's. I felt like Superman out there."
A year later, Morrow made a giant leap into the business world with Warrior, the nickname used by his high school's sports teams.
He had graduated from Princeton with an English degree and no experience in marketing or sales, yet word of mouth has transformed Warrior from a fledging company to a major competitor, making more than 400 products. Warrior then pulled a major coup by becoming the U.S. national team sponsor, which included a $100,000-plus price tag.
"With Dave, it's kind of a fresh face," said fellow U.S. defenseman Brian Voelker, who was a Princeton assistant in Morrow's junior year. "He's obviously pretty heavy in the lacrosse scene, but he has such a different perspective, coming from Michigan and not having lacrosse be that important. I think he is doing some great stuff for the sport, especially for some dumb kid out of Michigan."
But being from Michigan has also created its share of problems. With Warrior based in Troy, Mich., and a majority of the demand located on the East Coast, Morrow has become a frequent flyer. Plus, Morrow has to play club lacrosse to remain eligible for the national team, which means more weekly plane trips east for games at Mount Washington.
If that's not busy enough, try balancing the demanding full-time roles of player and sponsor.
"I kid him all the time, one minute being George Steinbrenner and the next minute being a dumb lacrosse player," Tierney said. say, 'You're George right now, we need to talk about uniforms. Now you're David, and you're playing like an idiot out there.' "
Pub Date: 7/17/98