In a world controlled by the mesh industry, Under Armour pros Steele and Wells Stanwick have kept it old school throughout their entire lacrosse careers by using traditional-style pita pockets strung-up by their dad. I got a chance to talk sticks with the both of them and dig further into why they love traditional so much.
Both of these brothers possess so many accolades from their time in college and have now gone on to see success in the professional ranks. Steele graduated in 2012 from UVa with many honors: two-time captain, two-time USILA First Team All-American, two-time ACC Player of the Year, 2009 ACC Rookie of the year, three-time All ACC honors, the 2011 Tawaaraton Trophy winner, and most importantly, he helped win the 2011 National Championship against bitter ACC rival, Maryland. He finished his career with 126 goals and 269 points, good enough to be the all-time point’s leader at UVa.
Wells, who recently joined his brother as an Under Armour pro, graduated from Johns Hopkins University this year after leading a struggling Blue Jays all the way to the NCAA semifinals, the first for Hopkins since 2008. Wells became the main offensive cog his sophomore year and led the team in one or two point categories each season. Wells is a three-time USILA Honorable Mention, and currently ranks 7th on Johns Hopkins all-time points list with 208 points (84 goals /124 assists).
Tell me about your lacrosse sticks these days?
Steele: I’ve been using the Command head that hasn’t been released yet but, I like to mix it up between the Command and the Vital.
Wells: My dad is stringing up the Command for me now but right now I’m using a Charge 2.
Steele, when you graduated, Under Armour was just breaking into the lacrosse world. What made you both sign on to Under Armour?
S: It was all about timing for me. They had just gotten into lacrosse and I wanted to work with a Baltimore-based company. I also wanted to be a part of a company that wasn’t just lacrosse.
W: Pretty much the same thing for me. I liked where they were heading in lacrosse trying to be one of the best brands in the lacrosse world and now you see so many great schools like Maryland, Notre Dame, and Loyola using their equipment. It just seemed right.
Wells, you had to adjust to the 2013 NCAA stringing rules, was it difficult?
W: No not really. I just had to take out the bottom shooter in my stick. I had gone between three shooters and two shooters but there wasn’t much of a difference.
Loved your New York Times article last April. Does your Dad still string your sticks?
S: Yeah he does, he still strings them for the whole family.
Jeez, that’s a lot of sticks to string. How many do you guys get strung up?
S: Usually I only have about two for fall and spring. I get two in the fall and I use one all fall to get used to it. In the spring, I only use that one for games and the other one I use for practice. Since I wasn’t going through a lot of sticks, I never really needed to get a bunch strung up. I’ve been using the same stick in the MLL for the past two seasons.
W: I did the same thing. Once I got used to a stick, I never wanted to switch it out. I like being that comfortable with my stick.
So you guys went back in forth between two sticks all year?
W: Yeah pretty much.
S: I was using the same stick in my junior and senior year.
I know your dad marks them, what does that do?
S: Our dad marks up the strings so that he knows everything is symmetrical and makes everything even.
You guys mentioned to NYT that leather holds up better in the rain than mesh. Can you elaborate on why/how ?
S: I’ve never used mesh so I can’t really compare but I’ve never found the rain to cause any problems. You just have to maintain the pocket when you’re done practicing.
W: It’s all about the maintenance after a game or practice. Most people don’t want to put that kind of time into a stick but I thought it was worth it since I liked the feel I got from the stick.
Have any teammates, opponents, or fans given you a hard time re: mesh vs traditional?
W: No one has ever given me a hard time about using it. Most people thought it was pretty cool and if it works, that’s all that matters.
S: A lot of people are intrigued by it. There’s definitely been more exposure for us playing with traditional but it’s really about preference. You get flack sometimes, but people like that it’s a classic thing and that it’s old school.
Around 1995, Casey Powell dropped the mesh “V” onto the game. Is “mesh” a word that ever floated around your house around that time?
S: Yeah, all we really knew was traditional. I would copy my older brother because I thought it was cool. I also used it because the Gaits and Tom Marechek were using traditional. I didn’t realize it was a weird thing until later on.
W: It’s funny that, when we would practice in the back yard, my dad was the only one using a mesh stick when everyone else was using traditional.
What about today with all of the great products out there?
W: I think about trying but I’ve just always used traditional. It’s just something I’ve always done. I don’t think I would play any differently if I had a mesh stick or not.
S: It’s just a comfort thing. At the end of the day, I don’t think it makes you a better player. I’ve just loved being able to feel the ball. I feel like I have the most feel with a traditional pocket. It’s also just apart of who I am.
What do you have to say about mesh vs traditional to our readers? For example, do you advocate traditional over mesh or are you stringing-material neutral?
S: It’s personal preference. I just like the way it feels.
W: Personal preference. It’s not for everyone, someone on the Cannons picked up my stick and said that he didn’t like it because he could feel the ball too much. So the reason why I like it so much is the reason he hates it. I thought that was kind of funny.
What will the next generation of Stanwick men be using in their sticks?
S: I’ve never really thought about that. My nephew uses traditional in an old stick. I don’t know how to string at all and I’d love to learn for my dad. Once again, it’s all about preference.
W: Same thing. I’ve been saying for 12 years that I would learn, but I get lost after putting the first two leathers in. I don’t know if I ever will. Who knows?
What are you lax stick superstitions?
S: I always bring my game stick on the bus with me.
W: Same, and I always bring a backup for good luck.