Marysville business scoring big with lacrosse

MARYSVILLE – You probably can’t guess what the top-selling sports equipment at Play It Again Sports is.

Football? Baseball? Basketball? Soccer? Nope, nope, nope and nope.

It’s lacrosse. Pretty amazing, especially since Marysville doesn’t even have a team. It’s like the fastest-growing sport in the nation has caught on everywhere but here.

And actually, according to owner Rob Scott, it has caught on here. Plenty of equipment is sold to Marysville residents – they just play in Everett, Snohomish and Lake Stevens. Arlington used to just have a lacrosse club, but now it’s going to be played in high school.

While the sport is growing, Scott expects it to get even bigger as the U.S. just won the equivalent of the World Cup of Lacrosse.

Scott sells more lacrosse equipment than any other Play It Again Sports store in the nationwide chain.

It’s not all because of sales at his store downtown. He travels to up to 30 lacrosse tournaments and camps in a number of states and Canada with a trailer full of gear to sell. Just last weekend he was in Bend, OR, at a 200-team tourney.

What’s unique about his store is he also buys used equipment, meaning it’s recycled rather than thrown away, and people can get better prices.

Scott loves that aspect of his business.

“It makes so much sense,” he said. “Kids outgrow stuff so fast.”

For example, he said kids can outgrow cleats in 10 weeks. In his store, people can buy used ones for $15. New ones can cost at least twice that.

Scott said even if something is really old and worn out, he can find a home for it.

For example, a type of bat that was new and very popular last year was deemed illegal this year by Little League because it was too lively. “It’s worthless in America. They wanted to dumb-down bats,” Scott said, so he sent 400 of them to Panama through a program called Mitts for Missions.

Scott said his business is about 40 percent used and 60 percent new, but he’d like to change that percentage around. Not only is it good for the environment, but also good for the bottom line, too.

Because many people don’t know he sells used equipment, he used to go to 2,000 garage sales a year to try to find good-quality stuff. He still looks on Craigslist and Offer Up online since that takes less time.

Playing the game

Tai Junge, 25, who manages the store for Scott, has been playing lacrosse for about 2 1/2 years. He said lacrosse starting picking up locally when the Everett Stealth pro team won the national championship in 2010. He also said lacrosse has its first $1 million professional player in Paul Rabil.

He explained some of the equipment needed to play: helmet, mouthguard, stick, cleats, gloves, shoulder pads and a hard rubber ball.

Helmets are hard like in football for boys’ lacrosse because it’s full contact. “It’s like full contact soccer,” he said, trying to explain the overall look of the game.

For girls, the helmets are more like for bicyclists.

“They drill it into kids not to touch the helmet” to avoid concussions, Junge said of all coaches.

The positions are similar to soccer: three attackers, midfielders and defenders, along with a goalie. The midfielders can play offense or defense, but the others have to stay in their section of the field.

The goalies and defenders wear the most padding. “They’re bulky because they get beat up,” Junge said, adding a player can only get hit with a stick where the pads are.

Scott said defenders’ sticks are long. “They are made for whacking people,” he said. “Poking them, knocking the ball loose.”

Goalies have the biggest netting, almost like a fishing net, on their sticks, Scott added.

Junge said unlike in hockey, where goalies are king, that position in lacrosse is tough. He said the cage – at 6 foot by 6 foot – is too big, in his opinion.

“They block a low percentage of shots, maybe two of ten,” he said of goalies. Shots can come at them at 100 mph and “you don’t have to be open to score,” Junge added.

After the face-off at midfield, the teams run up and down the 110-yard by 60-yard field passing the ball with their sticks. The circle around the goal, or cage, is called the crease, where only the goalie can be. The best attacker usually is in the area behind the goal. The other two attackers and three midfielders run various plays to try to confuse the defense and score.

Junge said the game is all-inclusive. He said he knows players who can’t throw a ball, but they can throw it with the stick. He said it helps to have fast hands and feet, but anyone can play.

“After a half-hour you’re hooked,” he said, adding the retention rate compared with other sports is amazing.

A high school star going to college to play football told him he’d rather be playing lacrosse, Junge said.

He added it’s not like some sports where parents scream at the officials, probably because many parents don’t know the rules.

“They all have fun. It’s a small community,” he said.

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