When I first saw a game of lacrosse in middle school, I was mesmerized. It was nothing like I’d seen before; players were aggressive, but smart. They knew how to handle different situations like fast-breaks and man-down plays and the sport itself seemed like a harmonic mix of hockey and football. It highlighted the muscle contortion of hockey and the physicality of football. It tested your endurance and thinking skills, while also emphasizing the importance of teamwork and practice. From that game on, I knew I had to be a part of this.
In order to save money, one of the first sticks I purchased did not come with a mesh pocket. Figuring I’d have a pocket strung later by a professional, I bought it with confidence. Having a second stick would translate to a more aggressive and extroverted player on the field, since a backup would be ready in case the first one was damaged from checking and aggressive play.
When I inquired at a local specialty shop how much a stringing job would be, I was bewildered. It would cost me $30 for the service, which meant I would have to pay more for the entire stick than a stick that came with a mesh pocket originally. I had no choice; none of my friends or teammates knew how to string a pocket and I needed a backup for my games. I reluctantly paid the fee and waited.
The pocket came out terrible. All strings were loose, referees deemed it too deep for play, and my passes, once smooth and consistent, were unpredictable and sloppy. Needless to say, I was frustrated; I paid an unnecessary amount of money for a service that left me unsatisfied.
Soon enough, I sat down to truly examine the pocket. I studied the intricacies of the knots and how the pocket was put together. Once an enigma, the convoluted array of strings and laces became clear; there was a pattern that persisted, and I quickly learned why the pocket was hindering my ability to improve as a player. “Why can’t I do this myself?” I muttered. I then realized, “wait, I can.”
Using online tutorials and my basic, manual dexterity, I learned how to string my own pockets, which was how I started my own business. For each stringing service, I charged a mere $20 and in return, my teammates had sticks that were durable, reliable, consistent, and catered to their personal style. I became a name around my local lacrosse community for my unique abilities; a varsity player for the University of Delaware even asked me to string his sticks for him!
It is this fundamental way of thinking innovatively and enthusiastically that can be the real solution to many of our problems. It promotes our critical thinking skills and transcends our ideas above the more traditional ways of improving our lives. We learn to think outside the box and subsequently, introduce ideas never before considered.
Vincent Mark Abad-Santos lives in Potomac, and just finished his senior year at Richard Montgomery High School, where he worked on the sports section of the school newspaper, The Tide. He will attend Washington University in Saint Louis in the fall, and plans to study accounting and finance.