A social site just for lacrosse? Just ask him

ON BLOGS

May 25, 2008|By Andrew Ratner

As the top men's teams in college lacrosse face off for the national championship outside Boston this weekend, Web designer Glen Doss plans to be competing there, too - for fans' attention.

The 31-year-old from Locust Point in Baltimore has toyed with various ideas for new Web sites, including one that tracks development news in Baltimore (as opposed to urban ills) and is called baltimoregrows.com.

But another he developed may have the best potential. It flows from his own experience as a lacrosse player at Severna Park High School in Anne Arundel County and at Salisbury University, from which he graduated in 1999.

In January, he launched LaxSpot.com, a social networking site where lacrosse players, coaches and fans can communicate with one another.

He planned his first sizable promotional campaign this weekend at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., where thousands are congregating to see college lacrosse's version of the Final Four.

"I just felt it was a niche that wasn't being filled. Obviously, there's Facebook and YouTube and everything like that," Doss said. "I've seen it done for other sports, but especially for lacrosse, nothing was done like this."

Social-networking sites are all the rage, although as a recent article in USA Today pointed out, no one has quite figured out why Facebook is valued at $15 billion or how many of these sites will ever turn a profit - like many dot-coms that imploded years ago.

But lacrosse, on paper - or on a business planner's cocktail napkin - seems to have some built-in advantages as an online community.

While it lacks the base of major sports such as baseball and football, its supporters are intensely loyal. The game, though played coast to coast, is concentrated in some affluent and technology-rich areas such as Maryland, Long Island, N.Y., and North Carolina. Lacrosse also has a unique culture that wends its way through some of the country's elite universities and follows many graduates to Wall Street.

"It's a tight-knit community," Doss said. "The response has been pretty good."

LaxSpot has developed about 1,000 registered users, mostly by word of mouth, he said. The site, still in its "beta" or test stage, gets about 400 unique visits a day. Doss has two partners so far: former college lacrosse teammates Hirbod Azmi, who works in financial services, and Mark Breier, who works in the tech field.

Users can create their own groups to communicate with teams or alumni. A "marketplace" section includes ads for lacrosse camps for boys and girls, coaching and officiating classifieds, and new and used equipment for sale.

"I have a full-time job, but I'm always looking for things to keep me busy," said Doss, who works in Web design for a Washington-area consulting firm.

The site also includes blogs by current college and pro players, who sporadically write about how their seasons are going.

Justin Berry, a former All-American at Towson University who played Major League Lacrosse, has had a running chronicle of his quest to get back into shape to resume his pro career.

"As I said in the last blog I made the team, what I did not tell you all is that I am in fact starting this weekend against Boston," he wrote about a week ago. " ... I did not mention it before but in week two of training camp I pulled my groin, I did not mention it because I did not want to seem like I had an excuse if I was released. since I was not and I am starting, I can tell you all that I was able to rehab it every day for the last two weeks and I think I will be close to 100 percent on saturday night. ... I think this weekend is going to be pretty sweet."

Doss the Webman hopes he can say the same.

andrew.ratner@baltsun.com

Andrew Ratner, a former technology reporter, is Today editor of The Sun.

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