When you hold a lacrosse stick, you're holding history. The sport can be traced back to the Native Americans, who invented and played variations of stickball games. Today, most lacrosse sticks sold in sporting goods stores are made of lightweight metals and plastic. However, some artisans, like Lewis Mitchell, still fashion traditional sticks from wood using the same techniques perfected by early Natives.
Gizmodo published a video interview with the Canadian lacrosse stick maker, who was recently filmed by indigenous community TV station and media outlet Akwesasne TV. Mitchell grew up on the Akwesasne Reservation, which straddles the U.S. and the Canadian province of Ontario. He learned how to make the sticks by working at a local lacrosse factory when he graduated high school. Today, Mitchell fashions his wooden lacrosse sticks entirely by hand, and sells them to athletes who want to reconnect with the sport's roots.
The process is labor-intensive. Mitchell has to go into the woods, search for the perfect hickory tree, cut it down, and chop and saw the wood into the right size. Then, he steams the wood, bends its edge into a crook, and lets it dry for three to four months before repeating the process. After drying the stick and carving it down, it’s ready for a good sanding. Finally, the stick is shellacked and finished with string.
Watch Mitchell make one of his signature wooden sticks in the above video.
Banner image courtesy of iStock.