The one who would change the game arrived at Princeton in the fall of 1989. He had little skill, other than his ability to run fast, and he was ready to give up on the sport of lacrosse after just one semester. He figured he might try hockey instead.
Now it's almost 20 years later, and he can't drive past too many fields or find too many places that don't feel his influence. He has changed the way the game is played on the field; he has changed the way the game is viewed off the field. He has gone beyond anything he could have imagined when he started and in the process has become nothing less than a cultural pioneer.
"He has modernized the game of lacrosse through his efforts and made it better," says his college coach, Princeton head coach Bill Tierney. "It's a credit to him and his vision. The rest of lacrosse has gotten better because of him."
His name is David Morrow. He is a 1993 graduate of Princeton University.
The sport of lacrosse--and the thousands of kids who play it today who might never have had the chance before--will forever be indebted to him.
David Morrow grew up outside of Detroit in the town of Troy. His father, Kevin, ran a tubing shop, and Morrow came to Princeton sure that he would take over the company business one day.
It was in the summer of 1991, after Morrow's sophomore year, that his father was approached by a company looking to manufacture a more modern snowshoe. One of the materials that Kevin Morrow worked with was titanium.
At the time, lacrosse sticks were made primarily of aluminum--"low-end aluminum," Morrow says--and even wood was still a possibility. It was during the snowshoe project that father and son came upon the idea of applying titanium to lacrosse sticks.
"It seemed like a natural," Morrow says. "It was lighter and so much more difficult to bend. The way it was then, you could bend two or three aluminum sticks per game."
From this idea, the entire game of lacrosse changed. Now, all sticks made by all manufacturers are made of composite material, lightweight yet strong, and every player on every level uses one.
In addition, out of this idea grew a worldwide industry that is in many ways a model of how to build a modern-day company. Warrior Lacrosse -- named after the Brother Rice High School Warriors, Morrow's high school -- now has more than 600 employees worldwide. There are several different divisions to Warrior, including Warrior Lacrosse, Brine Sports, Warrior Sports Canada and even Warrior Hockey, which now has more than 150 National Hockey League players who use its titanium sticks.
Warrior now produces an entire line of lacrosse apparel and equipment that is used on every level of the sport (including Princeton University's men's team).
Morrow sold his company to New Balance in January 2004, but he remains as the President and CEO of Warrior Sports.
"What we've done is created an individual aspect to a team sport," Morrow says. "On the surface, what we're doing doesn't jive with the attitude of team sports. I think it's implied that if you play lacrosse that you're buying into the concept of a team sport. What we've done is follow the lead of the action sports world, and we've incorporated that into our marketing. It's helped make the sport a lot more relevant to younger people in general. Today, there's a much more competitive landscape to gets kids' attention. Unfortunately, team sports for kids are on the decline. You can check the participation numbers. In spite of that, lacrosse is growing."
This is not a coincidence. More than just producing the equipment, Morrow and his company have sold an attitude about sports in general to today's generation. Their ads are cutting edge, and in some instances, beyond. They sell not just sports but also a lifestyle, and they use their stable of today's top players to make lacrosse, for lack of a better word, "cool." Their marketing, for lack of a better word, is "hot." And that combination has been out front in creating the modern game of lacrosse.
"I think we have a higher level of responsibility than just selling equipment," Morrow says. "Even if kids don't play, we want them to see what we're doing and want to be a part of it. We're competing against a lot of team sports."