As lacrosse players graduate from college and fan out across the country, they’re bringing the game they love with them. The result: lacrosse fever, American style.
Epoch Lacrosse is helping to fuel this wave with high-tech, cutting-edge gear that puts your best game in your hands. We caught up with Epoch’s founder, James Miceli, a lifelong player and former NCAA championship winner, to get the scoop on the brand.
You founded Epoch in 2011 after a career in sales and marketing. Why a lacrosse company?
Lacrosse is my passion, so I really wanted to incorporate that in some way into my life and work.
I’m guessing that you’re a lacrosse guy and have spent a lot of time playing the game?
On Long Island where I grew up, lacrosse was like our baseball. My brother and I were deep into it from a young age, first holding a stick at age eight or nine, throwing in the backyard with my dad who played in high school and going to every camp and clinic we could find. Both of us went to Adelphi University, and I played in four national championship games. I still coach and play.
What’s your position?
I’m an attack wing.
Epoch specializes in bringing high-tech design and materials to the game’s relatively simple gear—sticks made up of a shaft, head, and mesh pocket. Was there a secret ingredient to improving these?
When we looked at the market, we saw that carbon fiber was being used in every other sport, from baseball bats to tennis racquets. But the game I grew up with and loved—lacrosse—was still so archaic. Alloy, which is heavier, was still used for every shaft.
And you guys came up with an unexpected way to improve the mesh pocket and make it more durable and long lasting?
Right. We’re constantly seeking new materials from new suppliers. I was talking to one of my suppliers, and one of their design engineers mentioned that they were selling material to the U.S. Navy for their ropes. She said it was hydrophobic, which means it resists moisture. So if you’re a Navy Seal and you come out of the water with your ropes—and they don’t absorb water—you can save 10 to 15 pounds, which means you can carry more ammo.
We had the same need in lacrosse. We needed mesh that would repel water and quickly dry out in all weather conditions. And in lacrosse, you can have all the seasons in a day. It can be sunny in the morning, humid later; it can rain; you can play in the snow. Typically, this would mean that the nylon in the pocket would change with the weather conditions. But this material remains absolutely neutral.
So that means the pocket holds its shape and there’s no dry out time, as with the old mesh?
Right. It’s great for all conditions. Our Otter Mesh is totally hydrophobic. It’s a game changer. We supply many university teams with it, and they love the stuff. We really feel like we’re helping move the sport forward, which is important to me.
You guys are based outside Minneapolis, which isn’t exactly a well-known lacrosse location, but I envision your office as having goals set up and a field out back.
You nailed it. We all absolutely live it every day. I came out to Minnesota about nine years ago when I was working for Pioneer Electronics, lived in SoCal for a couple years, and came back here.
I played men’s lacrosse in a league in Minnesota and did some coaching at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. I think whether it’s Denver or Utah, or Minneapolis, people who have played bring that passion for lacrosse with them.
So in other words, you all are lifetime lacrosse buffs?
Yes! Our business cards have our numbers and positions on the back of them. We have field trips where we grab our sticks and a bucket of balls and head out. We spend hours with sticks in our hands asking each other, “What if we did this, or what if we did that?”
If you look at our website, you’ll see that we’re focused on bringing the best performance and technology to the game. But at the end of the day, we’re lacrosse players. We do the same thing as our customers on Monday mornings, checking out the games we missed on YouTube.
What’s next for Epoch?
We’ll continue to use advance materials and design. There’s a lot of noise out there about saying this shaft or this head will make you a better player, but it’s the player that’s doing it. What we do is allow you to maximize your performance. It’s a different way of looking at it.