Everybody in the lacrosse world knows of Alf Jacques, but if you are one of the supposed few who DO NOT, please do yourself a favor and ‘google’ his name. Do it for lacrosse. Do it for yourself, because you’re probably going to want what he makes.
Known as the ‘stick maker of the Iroquois’, I first met Alf, or ‘Alfie’, as he’s called at the 2009 U.S. Lacrosse Convention when I launched The Art of Lax™ to the public. While he was making the rounds on the exhibition floor, he stopped to inquire about my framed painting that represented my venture, back then. “They look serious!” was his comment to my piece, titled ‘The Creators’. A friend of mine named Drew Andreotti, the person credited for getting me back to playing lacrosse and who was also there at the event, suggested that a reproduction print of ‘The Creators’ should be given to Alf. It was a good move by Drew, as Alf would hang that print on his studio wall, along with many more from The Art of Lax™ portfolio.
Before the event back in 2009 ended, I made sure to check out his collection of handmade lacrosse sticks which were crafted in his studio in Upstate NY. As a craftsman, I was totally blown away leaving a burning image in my mind of possibly owning one, one day. As The Art of Lax™ demand grew my attendance as an exhibitor at the U.S. Lacrosse Convention became a constant. And during each attendance Alf and I would reconnect sharing updates on our respective businesses and personal projects. At the 2013 U.S. Lacrosse Convention, luck would have it that both of our booths were next to each other, thus establishing and solidifying a friendship that has been genuine ever since. And as our friendship kept on growing, so did my personal interest with one of his handmade wooden sticks, thus telling Alf a few years ago.
In 2019 I didn’t attend the Lacrosse Convention, or ‘LaxCon’, due to wanting to enjoy a family trip to Panama during the Holiday Season, and preparing for a new title of ‘Head Coach’ of a high school lacrosse program. In 2020 my recent return to LaxCon in Philadelphia was to be a quick, one day stop over to see friends, clients, business partners and Alf for a particular reason. As soon as I entered the exhibition hall with the ‘Fan Fest’ crowd, I headed to Alf’s booth as it was obviously spotted with people crowding around it. He saw me confirming with a smile and simple nod of his head. Our hands finally grabbed each other for a firm shake, that was hovering over his highly sought after wooden sticks, lined up on a table. With his other hand, he pointed down to them and plainly said to me, “pick one.” After the transaction was made, Alf stepped aside and we caught up on life, cracked a few jokes and shook hands as his crowd of fans was growing, waiting for him. I left Alf with another signed print, this one of ‘The Stick’ for him to add to his studio wall.
Not being an exhibitor at LaxCon was awkward, but it also very liberating due to being able to freely walk all over the exhibition floor. And while it was very exciting to have in my hands a famed wooden stick by Alf Jacques, it was also nerve racking to walk around with it because of the ‘what if’ situation. An important and successful lunch meeting with manufacturing partner, Dale Tweedy of Crankshooter at the Hard Rock Cafe had Alf’s stick on the table just an arm’s length from my Cobb salad. A last minute walk around the floor talking to retailers and catching up with ‘social media friends’ made me antsy, reminding myself that I still have Alf’s stick with me.
While LaxCon still had a few hours left that Saturday, I knew it was really over for me and decided to leave. The walk from the Philadelphia Convention Center, through the famous but busy Terminal Market and weaving the streets to the parking garage about six blocks away, got looks from pedestrians on Alf’s stick. Once in my car and on the highway heading back to NYC, the stick was next to me, leaning on the passenger seat which I would look at from time to time, as the most important piece of cargo from the weekend.
I keep the stick in my studio office adjacent to my desktop computer and the mess of art materials that make up the random projects for The Art of Lax™. I don’t know if I’m ever going to use it because as an artist this is a masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece that was painstakingly crafted with so much care and attention, making it worth every dollar amount that Alf Jacques charges for them. Looking back, I’m very proud that I kept my promise of one day being able to own one, but only after creating an authentic friendship with Alf Jacques, first. That will remain something to forever cherish.
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