Many of the players on the Wings are new to the indoor game. It is pretty crazy to put that in perspective. Guys like Garrett Thul, John Ranagan, and Brian Megill literally played their first indoor lacrosse less than two months ago. They are now playing on a regular basis and making an impact.
Like most players in the NLL, I grew up playing indoor lacrosse. I started at a young age and wasn't introduced to the field game until I was about 16-years old. I remember how tough and how awkward I felt making that transition, so I really appreciate what my teammates are doing.
I look back to when I was introduced to field lacrosse and I have to laugh. For at least the first year or so I wore basketball shoes on the grass fields, because cleats gave me blisters. Field lacrosse was a foreign concept for my friends and I, even though my hometown of Orangeville was a lacrosse hot bed. It wasn't until an older player in our town Chris Sanderson (former Wings player and coach) ventured off to play at the University of Virginia that I started understanding field lacrosse and the opportunities that existed in the NCAA. Chris was a goalie for the Junior A Northmen and my friends and I were enamored with his navy blue and orange UVA gear that he would wear in his Northmen games.
In the summer of 1997, Chris founded a company that would change the course of my life. The company was called True North Lacrosse. True North was a real field lacrosse camp with real field lacrosse instruction. When I say "real" field lacrosse, you have to know that most field lacrosse in Canada at the time resembled box lacrosse on the field. Chris invited his teammates and coaches from Virginia and some of the top local players like Troy Cordingley, John Tavares, Jim Veltman, and Gary Gait. Wanting to look like a field lacrosse player before camp, I tried to doctor some hockey shoulder pads to look like "field" shoulder pads. To my chagrin, Gary Gait came up to me and said: "Hey kid, what do you have on, a life jacket?" I definitely shed a tear as I went to bed that night.
It was a pretty amazing staff in hindsight. I can remember Jim Veltman hitting behind that back shots the whole length of the field -- it looked so easy. Dom Starsia came in to help at the camp (when he still had that legendary moustache). It was a warm, breezy day, and I can remember Dom saying "it's a little piece of heaven up here." The American counselors from UVA introduced us to things we had never seen before, like "dodges" and crazy stick checks like the "ding dong" and the "wrap" check. I was hooked. It was so much fun learning these new concepts and integrating them back into the box game. The culture behind the sport was really cool to us as well. Some of the slang and terminology -- my friends and I were like the adolescent girls in the crowd of the Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles came to America (without the hysteric crying).
Chris was the leader behind this. He was smart, charismatic, extremely quick witted, and for my friends and me, he became the definition of cool. To see that someone from my hometown was doing so well at a big U.S. school like UVA was very motivating. He took my friends Matt, Kyle and I under his wing. We strived to follow in his footsteps. The three of us eventually went on to play at Ohio State, Cornell, and Georgetown respectively. It was because Chris saw something in us and mentored us through our high school years, giving us advice and opening up doors that wouldn't otherwise be opened.
After Chris graduated from Virginia, he and his wife Brogann settled in Pennington, New Jersey, just outside of Princeton. Chris brought True North Lacrosse with him to New Jersey and it grew into something pretty amazing with camps, clinics, and a cool apparel line. I was fortunate to take on a role with the camp as a director and some of my fondest memories in the game came from my time with True North. I know many other lacrosse players out there feel the same. True North became its own community.
As many of you likely know, Chris passed in 2012, after a heroic battle with brain cancer. When Chris died, unfortunately, so too did True North Lacrosse.
My wife Alex and I have always discussed True North Lacrosse and how cool the brand and the culture behind the brand was. I have definitely seen a sub-culture emerge in lacrosse over recent years that has the same laid back confidence and DNA that Chris infused into TNL.
So recently Alex and I decided to bring True North back to life. Alex is from the fashion world and has collaborated with Evan Melnyk, a famed graphic designer to re-launch the brand as a lifestyle apparel line. Chris always loved the apparel side of True North, so we knew this would be a good place to start.
True North will support the Chris Sanderson Memorial Trust.
I'm proud to say that True North Lacrosse is back.
To shop the collection you can visit TNLacrosse.com. Shipping is worldwide.