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Founded by Patrick Smith and Brad Conners and located in Southern California, Silverfin, which focuses on lacrosse training and equipment, has been going strong for four years. Patrick played both club and varsity at Navy (’94-’98) and was stationed overseas upon graduation. Upon returning from Spain he noticed that lacrosse equipment had changed a bit. The titanium shafts especially. The shafts not only got thicker but also heavier. He envisioned making titanium shafts light again like they were in his playing days.
Silverfin president, Patrick Smith, was able to give us a better look in to where the influences and origins of the company come from and why he feels Silverfin titanium is so unique.
What was the equipment like when you were playing at the Naval Academy?
We still played with Bacharach helmets. Cascade came out with their new helmet design my senior year and it revolutionized helmet technology. Warrior had just started to get established and their original titanium shaft was the best on the market. The STX turbo and Excalibur were the two top heads in the game. It’s amazing how much the gear has improved since then, but I don’t feel the level of play has changed significantly.
When did you depart for duty and where were you stationed?
I left for Rota, Spain in 2001 after two years of flight school and a year working at the Naval Academy Admissions Department. It was an unbelievable experience living overseas for three years. Spain doesn’t have lacrosse so I was away from the game the whole time. Things changed a lot from 2001-2005.
When you came back to the states, had the equipment manufacturing changed?
When I got back from Spain I started playing with Hollywood in Los Angeles. I borrowed an “X2” from a friend while I waited for my gear to show up in my household goods shipment. I was immediately blown away at the developments in equipment technology. At that time the X2 was one of the top heads in the game. It has since disappeared and then reappeared. Offset heads had expanded way beyond the original Brine Edge. Gloves were more functional, looked better, and had better protection. Companies, most notably Warrior, had started to place a lot more thought into lacrosse equipment and its design. I also noticed that equipment had gotten much more expensive. In particular, titanium handles were off the charts in cost and had become much heavier. I tried replacing my orignal titanium shaft but was unable. They just didn’t make it anymore. Everything I tried was significanly heavier than anything I had used during my high school and collegiate career. In my opinion, titanium is the “only material” when it comes to lacrosse shafts.
When did you decide to start and run a lacrosse equipment company?
It started in 2007 after we were encouraged to start an instructional camp in our local area by some parents on a team we coached. We started with 30 kids and have since grown to 200 in summer 2009. We wanted to diversify what we offered to the players where we live in Northern Los Angeles. Our first batch of titanium handles were a big hit locally. We also introduced the traditional pocket to our area. We didn’t really anticipate that things would catch on as much as they have. We will continue to manufacture great products as long as we are having fun and people like what we offer.
Any significance behind the name, Silverfin?
Silverfin has a few meanings. Mainly it signifies a propeller on a military aircraft…a prop blade or “silver fin”. Some of the guys at Silverfin have a military aviation background. It could also be a reference to a surfboard to signify our roots in Southern California.
What were your influences from your childhood experience that you instill in Silverfin?
Where I grew up on Long Island, lacrosse was much simpler and the level of play was very high. Handles were grey, heads were white, our stringing was traditonal, and our shorts and tshirts were simple. Most of the influences that you will see in our designs and at our camps come from our experiences on the East Coast and being in the military. With so many different geographic areas playing lacrosse at so many different levels, the face of the game has changed dramatically. Kids are trying to find the happy medium between surfing, skateboarding, extreme sports, and lacrosse. Our goal is to mimic the simplicity and functionality that you find in military equipment. It isn’t flashy, but it’s tested, it works well, and you can depend on it.
What is it about the Silverfin titanium that makes it stand out from others?
Our titanium handles have been very well received by the lacrosse community because of their weight, feel, and simplicity. We offer them in one color, gunmetal grey. Our logo is laser etched into the material which means it will never rub off. The metal is uncoated, giving it that feel that you used to have in the in the mid 1990’s when titanium first hit the scene and changed the game. We don’t anticipate huge changes in the design, and they will remain light, strong, and simple. Their simplicity makes them stand out against the flowery alternative.
So what’s on the horizon for Silverfin? Should we expect more shafts from Silverfin, pockets,heads, etc?
Right now we are keeping things pretty straight forward. Great shafts, traditional stringing, and well run instructional clinics will be our bread and butter for the immediate future. We will probably sponsor a team in Vail in summer 2010, and we will continue to grow our brand in Southern California where it has really taken hold. We subscribe to the “hedgehog principle.” A hedgehog isn’t the best looking or the fastest animal. But, it knows its a hedgehog. Keep it simple, know your boundaries, and be as good as you can in your particular area of expertise.
What are your likes and dislikes about the game of lacrosse right now and what should be changed?
I love all the innovation happening with lacrosse equipment. It is truly remarkable where things have progressed. But, some great things have all but disappeared such as the traditional pocket. I really feel that there is no subsitute for a traditional pocket. Kids stopped using traditional because they probably became frustrated with its maintenance. It is pretty straight forward and will deliver great results if you take the time to figure out its care and feeding.
For more information and product details visit Silverfin Lacrosse.